Ever since its founding in 2,750 BC, the Lebanese city of Tyre (Sour) has been a center of conquest, exploration and empire. Originally an island city with one of the finest harbors in the eastern Mediterranean, scholars argue that the first explorers to navigate the waters of the Mediterranean Sea departed from the modern day port of Tyre. Although heavily fortified and able to repel many previous attacks, the island of Tyre was finally conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC when his armies constructed a causeway to get within striking distance of the island. Due to thousands of years of sedimentation caused by the man-made causeway, the city of Tyre is now an isthmus which forms a rugged promontory jutting out into the sea.
Tyre is renowned for having the cleanest beaches in Lebanon, and is also known for the authenticity of its souks and wealth of Roman ruins. In addition to the Monumental Arch which once served as the entrance to the city, the most notable ruin in Tyre is the massive Roman hippodrome set in the Al Bass Archeological site. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest ever constructed in the ancient world, the hippodrome staged raucous chariot events for crowds numbering over 20,000.
While regarded as safe for modern day travelers, Tyre has been a place of much turmoil in the past. The city was damaged in 1982 and 2006 during conflicts with neighboring Israel, and though Tyre is fully open for tourism and deserves a spot on any Lebanon itinerary, the political situation can nevertheless be tense.
Microbuses to Tyre leave Beirut on a regular basis. They take no more than two hours and cost 2000 Lebanese Pounds (approximately $1.33 USD).