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Capital of the North Tripoli

Aug 17, 2007
Known as the capital of the North Tripoli 85 kilometres north of Beirut, has a special character all of its own. Founded by the three cities of Sidon, Tyre and Arados island during the Persian era. It became the centre of a confederation, where Phoenicians met to debate their important affairs. Since its foundation, probably in the 9th century BC, until the end of the Crusader period, Tripoli was situated around the Al Mina port district. After its destruction by the Mamlukes in 1289, however, it was replaced by a new town near the hill of the Crusader Castle of Raymond de Saint Gilles, founder of the County of Tripoli. The castle has been renovated and changed many times during its history, most recently in the early 19th century.

Modern Tripoli, which has a population of about 500,000, is divided into two parts El Mina, the port area and site of the ancient city and the town of Tripoli proper. The medieval city at the foot of the Crusader castle is where most of the historical sites are located. Surrounding this is a modern metropolis which is occupied with commerce, banking and recreation. The area known as At Tall dominated by an Ottoman clock tower in the heart of down town Tripoli is the transportation centre and terminus for most taxi routes. Thanks to its historical wealth, relaxed lifestyle and thriving business climate, this is a city where modern and medieval blend easily into a lively and hospitable metropolis.

When shopping in the old markets or downtown area, remember that gold is a good buy. Other popular items are Tripolis famous sweets and traditional olive oil based soap, water pipes and brass work. Al Mina is a good place to find seafood restaurants and fish markets. The citys most comfortable hotels and Western style restaurants can be found in the beach resorts south of the city.

There are many historical places of interest in Tripoli. Forty five buildings in the city, many dating from the 14th century, have been registered as historical sites. Twelve mosques from Mamluke and Ottoman times have survived along with an equal number of madrassas or theological schools. Secular buildings include the hammam or bathing house which followed the classical pattern of Roman Byzantine baths and the khans and caravansary. The souks, together with the khans, form an agglomeration of various trades where tailors, jewellers, perfumers, tanners and soap makers work in surroundings that have changed very little over the last 500 years.

Overlooking the sea is the imposing Citadel of Tripoli known as Saint Gillers which has been renovated and changed many times during its history. Of further interest is The Great Mosque that was completed in 1315. Its large courtyard is surrounded by porticos and a domed and vaulted prayer hall. Inside one can still see elements of Western architecture from the old church. Other interesting buildings include the beautiful 14th century Burtasiyat Madrassa Mosque, Hamman Al Abed, Tripoli s only functioning bathing house and Khan Al Khayyatin or Tailors Khan, one of the oldest in Tripoli.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works for The Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Tripoli Rental Site
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