One of the oldest cities in Lebanon and a place of pilgrimage for tourists in love with ancient history, Tire boasts a remarkable archaeological park – and its scale is so huge that UNESCO, including the city on the World Heritage List in 1984, was forced to divide the sights into three vast zones: Al-Mine-1 and Al-Mine-2 you can see the oldest evidence of the activities of the civilizations of the Middle East – the Egyptians, Romans and Byzantines, and Al-Bass is entirely dedicated to Roman “works”, of which the most remarkable are the hippodrome for 20 thousand spectators and the arched gallery. NATO soldiers and the Al-Bass refugee camp, almost at the entrance to the archaeological park, slightly overshadow the picture, and there are no people who want to stay in the city for a long time, so it makes sense to come here on a one-day excursion. See Citypopulationreview for weather in the capital of Lebanon.
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ performed his first great miracle, turning water into wine, at a wedding celebration in Cana, 13 km from Thira.
How to get to Thira
The easiest way to get to Tire is by road from Beirut – there are buses, minibuses and fixed-route taxis “service” on the route. The bus ride will take from one to one and a half hours and will cost 3000 LBP; they leave every 15 minutes from 5 am to 9 pm from the Cola transport station in the Lebanese capital. Minibuses from Beirut “waddle” for one to two hours, depending on the driver’s skills; the fare will cost 2000-3000 LBP. “Service” is the fastest way to get to Tire. Cars start off as soon as all places are filled; fare – 10-15 000 LBP.
A trip to Tire can be combined with a visit to Sidon – buses run between the two cities, travel time is about 30-45 minutes, the journey will cost 2000 LBP.
How to navigate in the city
The oldest part of the city is located on a narrow promontory protruding into the sea. Here, right behind the fishing port, where the colorful boats of local fishermen and large trawlers moor interspersed, there is a Christian quarter, and immediately after it begins the Al-Mina archaeological park, both parts of it. Al-Bass Park is located in the depths of the city, in close proximity to the Palestinian refugee camp of the same name.
Given the small size of Tire, it can be easily bypassed on foot. If by the end of the day you get tired of walking, a taxi is at your service. Meters have not been heard of in Tire since the time of Queen Elissa, so you should discuss the amount of payment with the driver before getting into a taxi.
4 things to do in Tire
- Shout “Carthage, I’m coming!” on the embankment of Thira, becoming like the Phoenician queen-fugitive Elissa. Then, of course, hurry to Tunisia.
- Walk along the main street of the Roman city, intricately paved with mosaics – it is 18 centuries old!
- Take a walk along the grandiose baths and regret that the scale of washing is not the same now.
- After visiting the ruins, dine in style at the “Little Phoenician” in the old port.
In Tire, it is especially not customary to stop at night – it is quite possible to see archaeological sites during daylight hours. However, for fans of the excavations, there are several options for accommodation, which are especially convenient if you decide to go to Sidon in the morning. The most pompous hotel bears the unpretentious name “Rest House” and offers spacious modern rooms, an excellent restaurant, a cozy bar, two outdoor pools and a private sandy beach for 140-170 USD (there are also “suites” for 400 USD). A simpler, but no less charming option is the Al-Fanar Hotel-Restaurant. A homely atmosphere reigns here, delicious traditional dishes are prepared and they are asked to pay democratic 70-90 USD per night.
Among the most notable ruins of the park are large-scale Roman baths and an adjacent rectangular area that could accommodate up to 2,000 spectators – presumably watching an ancient form of water polo.
Cuisine and restaurants
Fast food establishments “bunch” on the busy street of Abu Deeb. The ubiquitous falafel and shawarma are served here; The most popular eatery among the locals is called Abu Deeb. For something more substantial, we recommend going to the Tanit restaurant near the fishing port. Their traditional dishes are a huge amount of “meze”, steaks and a bar with foreign spirits, beloved by NATO soldiers. Another nice option is called “Tiros” – there is delicious food at affordable prices, and live music sounds on Saturdays. For the purpose of dinner “with pomp” you have a direct road to the “Little Phoenician”, which is in the old port – there is a “trick” there – delicious fish dishes and an open terrace above the old pier.
Entertainment and attractions of Thira
Al-Mina Archaeological Park includes ruins dating back to the 3rd millennium BC – once an Egyptian harbor, the sea later receded, giving space for later Roman construction. Note the mosaic-paved street, lined on both sides with columns of green marble imported from Greece. Among the most notable ruins of the park are large-scale Roman baths of the 2nd-3rd century and a rectangular viewing platform adjacent to them, accommodating up to 2000 spectators – presumably watching an ancient form of water polo.
A 5-minute walk from Al-Mina are the ruins of a medieval Crusader castle (12th century), to which several streets of the Roman and Byzantine periods lead.
The Al Bass Archaeological Park is located about 2 km from the ruins of Al Mina. The first thing to do here is to see the ancient Roman necropolis with hundreds of sarcophagi beautifully carved from marble – on some you can read the names of the “inhabitants”, others are poetically decorated with lines from the Iliad. Next, you should definitely admire the surprisingly well-preserved arched gallery of the emperor Hadrian (2nd century), which rose to a height of 20 meters, walk along the Roman road 1.6 km long and take a walk along the largest and first preserved ancient Roman hippodrome in the world – it once held more than 20 thousand spectators! Here are the ruins of the aqueduct, which delivered water to the baths of Al-Mina.
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ performed his first great miracle, turning water into wine, at the wedding celebrations in Cana. There is still lively debate about where the biblical city of Cana was located, but the people of Lebanon are sure that a miracle happened in the town of Cana, located 10 km southeast of Thira. Evidence of the miraculous transformation of drinks, of course, has not been preserved, but the main attraction of the village – Cana’s cave – deserves attention. According to legend, it was here that Jesus spent the night before performing a miracle. On the way to the cave, pay attention to the ancient wall bas-reliefs carved into the rock, depicting the life of the Savior.
The cave is open from 8 am to sunset, the entrance costs 4000 LBP for adults and 2000 LBP for children.
Continuing for another 18 km, you can reach the town of Tibnin to admire the 12th century Crusader castle built on a hill in the city center. In clear weather, breathtaking views of the fields, mountains and coastline open from the walls of the castle.