Tripoli, Lebanon

Tripoli, Lebanon

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Tripoli

image_caption = El-meena District
mapsize =
map_caption =
subdivision_type =
subdivision_name =
leader_title =
leader_name =
area_note =
area_magnitude =
area_total =
area_land =
area_water =
population_as_of =
population_total = appx 500,000
population_metro =
population_density =
timezone = +2
utc_offset =
timezone_DST = +3
utc_offset_DST =
latd= 34
latm= 26
longd= 35
longm= 51
latitude = 34°26' N
longitude = 35°51' E
website = []
footnotes =

Tripoli (Lebanese Arabic: طرابلس Ṭrāblos or Ṭrēblos, locally Ṭrōbles, Standard Arabic: Ṭarābulus; _el. Τρίπολις Tripolis) is the second-largest city in Lebanon, located north of Batroun and Cape Lithoprosopon. Tripoli is the capital of the North Governorate and a qada of the same name. The city is located 85 km north of the capital Beirut and can be described as the Eastern-most port of Lebanon.

In ancient times, it was the center of a Phoenician confederation which included Tyre, Sidon and Arados, hence the name Tripoli, from the Greek meaning "triple city". Later, it was controlled successively by the Assyrian Empire, Persian Empire, Roman Empire, the Caliphate, the Seljuk Empire, Crusader States, the Mamluks, and the Ottoman Empire. The Crusaders established the County of Tripoli there in the twelfth century.

Today it is the second-largest city and second-largest port in Lebanon, with approximately 500,000 inhabitants, mainly Sunni Muslims , along with fairly large communities of Christians and Alawite Muslims. The city borders the city of El Mina which is the port outlet of Tripoli district. The two cities are geographically conjoined to form the Greater Tripoli.

Names and Etymology

Tripoli had a number of different names as far back as the Phoenician age. In the Amarna letters the name "Derbly" was mentioned, and in other places "Ahlia" or "Wahlia" are mentioned (14th century BC). [Les Peuples Et Les Civilisations Du Proche Orient by Jawād Būlus. p. 308.] In an engraving concerning the invasion of Tripoli by the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II (888-859 BC), it is called Mahallata or Mahlata, Mayza, and Kayza. [ Wanderings -2: History of the Jews by Chaim Potok. P. 169.]

Under the Phoenicians, the name Athar was used to refer to Tripoli. ["History of Syria, Including Lebanon and Palestine" By Philip Khuri Hitti. p. 225.] When the Greeks settled in the city they called it "Tripoli", meaning "three cities". [Lebanon in Pictures By Peter Roop, Sam Schultz, Margaret J. Goldstein. p. 17.] The Arabs called it a variety of names, including the Princedom of Tripoli, the State of Tripoli, and the Eastern Tripoli Kingdom. In addition, the names Tarabulus, or Atrabulus, and Tarablus al-Sham, were also used. The Crusaders settled in Tripoli for about 180 years and made it the capital of the County of Tripoli. The city was also simply named "Triple".

Today, Tripoli is also known as Al-Fayha'a, derived from the Arabic verb Faha which is used to indicate the spread of a certain smell. Tripoli was best known for its vast orange orchards. During the season of blooming, the pollen of orange flowers gets carried by the air spreading a splendid odour that can be felt anywhere in the city and its suburbs, hence the name al-Fayha'a. [ [ Names of Tripoli through the history] ]


There is evidence of an early settlement in Tripoli that dates back as early as 1400 BC. In the 9th century BC, the Phoenicians established a trading station in Tripoli and later, under Persian rule, the city became the center of a confederation of the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Arados Island. Under Hellenistic rule, Tripoli was used as a naval shipyard and the city enjoyed a period of autonomy. It came under Roman rule around 64 BC. In 551, an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed the Byzantine city of Tripoli along with other Mediterranean coastal cities.

During Umayyad rule, Tripoli became a commercial and shipbuilding center. It achieved semi-independence under Fatimid rule, when it developed into a center of learning. The Crusaders laid siege to the city at the beginning of the 12th century and were able finally to enter it in 1109. This caused extensive destruction, including the burning of Tripoli's famous library, Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge), with its thousands of volumes. During the Crusaders' rule the city became the capital of the County of Tripoli. In 1289, it fell to the Mamluks and the old port part of the city was destroyed. A new inland city was then built near the old castle. During Ottoman rule from 1516 to 1918, it retained its prosperity and commercial importance. Tripoli and all of Lebanon was under French mandate from 1920 until 1943, when Lebanon achieved independence.

Prehistoric Tripoli (Before the 7th Century BC)

Many historians deny the presence of any Phoenician civilization in Tripoli before the 8th (or sometimes 4th) century BC. However, a careful investigation of the sequence of Phoenician port establishments on the Lebanese coast will realize a north-to-south gradient, thus, indicating an earlier age for the Phoenician Tripoli. Other evidence is supported by the idea that Phoenicians always preferred cities that had islands in front of them. Tripoli fulfills this criterion and in addition it has the Kadisha (Abou Ali) river that, for sure, helped in the establihement of a prosperous city.

Tripoli has not been extensively excavated because the ancient site lies buried beneath the modern city of El Mina. However, a few accidental finds are now in museums. Excavations in El Mina revealed skeletal remains of ancient wolves, eels, and gazelles, part of the ancient southern port quay, grinding mills, different types of columns, wheels, Bows, and a necropolis from the end of the Hellenistic period. A sounding made in the Crusader castle uncovered Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, in addition to Roman, Byzantine, and Fatimid remains. At the Abou Halka area (at the southern entrance of Tripoli) refuges dating to the early (30,000 years old) and middle Stone Age were uncovered [Saliba, R., Jeblawi, S., and Ajami, G., Tripoli the Old City: Monument Survey - Mosques and Madrasas; A Sourcebook of Maps and Architectural Drawings, American University of Beirut Publications, Beirut, Lebanon, 1995.] .

Persian Tripoli (6th to 4th Century BC)

Tripoli became a financial center and main port of northern Phoenicia with sea trade (East mediterranean and the West), and caravan trade (North Syria and hinterland).

Hellenic Tripoli (312/311 - 64 BC)

Under the Seleucids Tripoli gained the right to mint its own coins (112 B.C.); it was granted autonomy between 104 and 105 (kept it until 64 B.C.). At the time, Tripoli was a center of shipbuilding and cedar timber trade (like other Phoenician cities).

Roman and Byzantine Tripoli (64 BC - to 7th Century AD)

During this period, Tripoli witnessed the construction of important public buildings including municipal stadium or gymnasium due to strategic position of the city midway on the imperial coastal highway leading from Antioch to Ptolemais. In addition, Tripoli retained the same configuration of three distinct and administratively independent quarters (Aradians, Sidonians, and Tyrians). The territory outside the city was divided between the three quarters.

Arab Tripoli (645/646-1109 AD)

Tripoli gained in importance as a trading centre for the whole Mediterranean after it was inhabited by the Arabs. Tripoli was the port city of Damascus; second military port of the Arab navy after Alexandria; prosperous commercial and shipbuilding center; wealthy principality under the Banu Ammar emirs. During a visit for the traveler Nasir-i-Khusrau in 1047, he estimated the size of the population in Tripoli to be around 20,000. Legally, Tripoli was part of the juridiction of the military province of Damascus (Jund Dimashk) [Tadmouri, O. AS., Loubnan min AlFath AlIslami hatta Soukout AlDawla AlOumawia (13-132 H/ AD 634-750): Silsilat Dirasat fi Tarih AlSahel AlShami, Tripoli, 1990. Arabic.] .

Crusade Tripoli (1109-1289 AD)

The city became the chief town of the County of Tripoli (Latin Crusader state of the Levant) extending from Jubayl to Latakia and including the plain of Akkar with the famous Krak des Chevaliers. Tripoli was also the seat of a bishopric. Tripoli was home to a busy port and was a major center of silk weaving, with as many as 4,000 looms. Important products of the time included lemons, oranges, and sugar cane. It is curious to reflect that for 180 years, during the Frankish occupation, Langue d'Oc, the language of Provence, was spoken in Tripoli and a neighbouring village, owing to the influence of a number of Provencal nobles and courtiers who came here. At that time, Tripoli had a heterogeneous population including Western Europeans, Greeks, Armenians, Maronites, Nestorians, Jews, and Muslims. During the Crusade period, Tripoli witnessed the growth of the inland settlement surrounding the "Pilgrim's Mountain" (the citadel) into a built-up suburb including the main religious monuments of the city such as: The "Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Pilgrim's Mountain" (incorporating the Shiite shrine), the Church of Saint Mary's of the Tower, and the Carmelite Church.The state was a major base of operations for the military order of the Knights Hospitaller, who occupied the famous castle Krak Des Chevaliers (today a UNESCO world heritate site). The state ceased to exist in 1289, when it was captured by the Egyptian Mamluk sultan Qalawun.

Mamluk Tripoli (14th Century AD)

During the Mamluk period, Tripoli became a central city and provincial capital of the Mamlakah or kingdom (one of six in Mamluk Syria). Tripoli ranked third after Aleppo and Damascus. The kingdom was subdivided into six willayahs or provinces and extended from Jubayl and Aqra mountains south, to Latakia and al Alawiyyin mountains north. It also included al-Hermel, the plain of Akkar, and Hosn al-Akrad (Krak des Chevaliers) [Tadmouri, O. AS., Tarih Tarablus AlSiyasi WalHadari Aabr AlOusour: Aasr AlMamalik, Tripoli, 1981. Arabic. ] .

Tripoli became a major trading port of Syria supplying Europe with candy, loaf and powdered sugar (especially during the latter part of the 14th century). The main products from agriculture and small industry included citrus fruits, olive oil, soap, and textile (cotton and silk, especially velvet).

The Mamluks formed the ruling class holding main political, military and administrative functions. Arabs formed the population base (religious, industrial, and commercial functions) and the general population included the original inhabitants of the city, immigrants from different parts of Syria, North Africans who accompanied Qalawun's army during the liberation of Tripoli, eastern Christians, some Western families, and a minority of Jews. The population size of Mamluk Tripoli is estimated at 20,000-40,000; against 100,000 in each of Damascus and Aleppo [Tadmouri, O. AS., Tarih Tarablus AlSiyasi WalHadari Aabr AlOusour, Tripoli, 1984. Arabic.] .

Mamluk Tripoli witnessed a high rate of urban growth and a fast city development (according to traveler's accounts). It also had poles of growth including the fortress, the Grand Mosque, and the river banks. The city had seven guard towers on the harbor site to defend the inland city. During the period the castle of Saint Gilles was expanded as the Citadel of Mamluk Tripoli. The "Aqueduct of the Prince" was reused to bring water from the Rash'in spring. Several bridges were constructed and the surrounding orchards expanded through marsh drainage. Fresh water was supplied to houses from their roofs.

The urban form of Mamluk Tripoli was dictated mainly by climate, site configuration, defense, and urban aesthetics. The layout of major thoroughfares was set according to prevailing winds and topography. The city had no fortifications, but heavy building construction characterized by compact urban forms, narrow and winding streets for difficult city penetration. Residential areas were bridged over streets at strategic points for surveillance and defense. The city also included many loopholes and narrow slits at street junctions.

The religious and secular buildings of Mamluk Tripoli comprise a fine example of the architecture of that time. The oldest among them were built with stones taken from 12th and 13th Century churches; the characteristics of the architecture of the period are best seen in the mosques and madrassas, the Islamic schools. It is the madrassas which most attract attention, for they include highly original structures as well as decoration: here a honeycombed ceiling, there a curiously shaped corniche, doorway or moulded window frame. Among the finest is the madrassa al-Burtasiyah, with an elegant facade picked out in black and white stones and a highly decorated lintel over the main door.

Public buildings in Mamluk Tripoli were emphasized through sitting, facade treatment, and street alignment. Well-cut and well-dressed stones (local sandstone) were used as media of construction and for decorative effects on elevations and around openings (Ablaq technique of alternating light and dark stone courses). Bearing walls were used as vertical supports. Cross vaults covered most spaces from prayer halls to closed rectangular rooms, to galleries around courtyards. Domes were constructed over conspicuous and important spaces like tomb chambers, mihrab, and covered courtyards. Typical construction details in Mamluk Tripoli included cross vaults with concave grooves meeting in octagonal openings or concave rosette as well as simple cupolas or ribbed domes. The use of double drums and corner squinches was commonly used to make transition from square rooms to round domes [Saliba, R., Jeblawi, S., and Ajami, G., Tripoli the Old City: Monument Survey - Mosques and Madrasas; A Sourcebook of Maps and Architectural Drawings, American University of Beirut Publications, Beirut, Lebanon, 1995.] .

Decorations in Mamluk buildings concentrated on the most conspicuous areas of buildings: minarets, portals, windows, on the outside, and mihrab, qiblah wall, and floor on the inside. Decorations at the time may be subdivided into structural decoration (found outside the buildings and incorporate the medium of construction itself such as ablaq walls, plain or zigzag moldings, fishscale motifs, joggled lintels or voussoirs, inscriptions, and muqarnas) and applied decoration (found inside the buildings and include the use of marble marquetry, stucco, and glass mosaic) [Saliba, R., Jeblawi, S., and Ajami, G., Tripoli the Old City: Monument Survey - Mosques and Madrasas; A Sourcebook of Maps and Architectural Drawings, American University of Beirut Publications, Beirut, Lebanon, 1995.] .

Mosques evenly spread with major concentration of madrasas around the Grand Mosque. All khans were located in the northern part of the city for easy accessibility from roads to Syria. Hammams (public baths) were carefully located to serve major population concentrations: one next to the Grand Mosque, the other in the center of the commercial district, and the third in the right-bank settlement.

Major buildings in Mamluk Tripoli included six congregational mosques (The Mansouri Great Mosque, al-Aattar, Taynal, al-Uwaysiyat, al-Burtasi, and al-Tawbat Mosques). In addition, there were two quarter masjids (Abd al-Wahed and Arghoun Shah), and two mosques that were built on empty land (al-Burtasiah and al-Uwaysiyah). Other mosques incorporated earlier structures (churches, khans, shops, ...). One of the most beautiful mosques is the Taynal mosque, whose quiet design, splendid minaret and different cupolas make it one of the most interesting sights in the city. Mamluk Tripoli also included 16 madrasas of which four no longer exist (al-Zurayqiyat, al-Aattar, al-Rifaiyah, and al-Umariyat). Six of the madrasas concentrated around the Grand Mosque. Tripoli also included a Khanqah, many secular buildings, five Khans, three hammams (Turkish baths) that are noted for their cupolas. Hammams were luxuriously decorated and the light streaming down from their domes enhances the inneratmosphere of the place.

Early Ottoman Tripoli

During the Ottoman period, Tripoli became the provincial capital and chief town of an Ottoman pashalik (or vilayet) encompassing the coastal territory from Jubayl to Tarsus and the inland Syrian towns of Homs and Hama; the two other vilayets were Aleppo, and Damascus. Until 1612, Tripoli was considered as the port of Aleppo. It also depended on Syrian interior trade and tax collection from mountainous hinterland. Tripoli witnessed a strong presence of French merchants during the 17th and 18th centuries and became under intense inter-European competition for trade.

Public works in Ottoman Tripoli included the restoration of the Citadel of Tripoli by Suleiman II, the Magnificent. Later governors brought further modifications to the original Crusader structure used as garrison center and prison. Khan al-Saboun (originally a military barrack) was constructed in the center of the city to control any uprising. Early Ottoman Tripoli also witnessed the development of the southern entrance of the city (al-Muallaq Mosque and Hammam al-Jadid).

Even though a fair amount is known about the codes of medical ethics and practice and the physician-patient relationship in ancient civilizations, there is little evidence that the formalized practice of legally binding informed medical consent existed before the late 19th century.

A documented case of legal informed medical consent, which is dated 12 Shaban 1088/Nov 10, 1677, described the extraction of hernia of the Christian Ya'qub son of Ghanem, by the Christian Nicholas, son of Yanni:

"The reason why this document had been written down is that the Christian Ya'qub, son of Ghanem, the Monk in Balamand Monastery, Koura Sub-district, province of Tripoli, presented himself at the Holy Shari'a Council of Tripoli and hired and engaged the Christian surgeon Nicholas, son of Yanni, to extract his (Ya'qub's) hernia on the right side in return for a fee of 10 piasters. After the hired has undertaken to extract the hirer's hernia and treat it with ointments, the aforementioned hirer asked people to duly and legally bear witness that if the hirer died as a result of fate and Allah's divine decree because of his being treated by the hired, the latter shall not be held as guarantor for him; and the hirer has also relieved the hired from any responsibility for his death and blood money, and that the hirer or his heir after him shall not be entitled to any related claims made against the aforesaid surgeon. Effected and written down on thetwelfth day of the holy month of Sha'ban of the year 1088.

Witnesses: Mawlana Sheikh Mustafa - may his grace be augmented. Mawlana Sheikh Mohammed, scriber of the original copy. Mohammed Shalabi, Interpreter. Hussein Buluk Bashi. Haj Ramadan, Chief Court Usher."

The document, which was recorded during the Ottoman Empire, attests to the established practice of legal contracts between physician and patient, which were drawn up and signed in the presence of witnesses [AlHumsi NS. History of Tripoli Through the Shari'a Court Documents in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century. Beirut (Lebanon): Al-Rissalah Foundation/Dar Al-Iman; 1986. p. 289.] . It is interesting to note that the contract was not limited to the surgical procedure, but also included postoperative treatment and physician fees.

Ottoman Tripoli embraced many religious buildings, such as: al-Muallaq or "hanging" Mosque (1559), al-Tahhan Mosque (early 17th century), and al-Tawbah mosque (Mamluk construction, destroyed by 1612 flood and restored during early Ottoman Period). It also included several secular buildings, such as: Khan al-Saboun (early 17th century) and Hammam al-Jadid (1740).

Historical Timeline

* 1400-1200 BC: Recent discovery of pottery fragments: evidence of late Bronze Age settlement. Historical written records mention the settlement of the Had'teen Tribe (Cana'anian) after migrating from Palestine (13th BC); later on they were known as Tripolitans. Greeks named the Cana'anians 'the Phoenicians.'
* 14th-8th century BC: Phoenician trading station. Later on, Phoenicians started sailing to shores of Northern Africa and South Europe and establishing cities in many Mediterranean localities.
* 550-351 BC: Phoenicia became a province of the Persian Empire.
* 351 BC: Full independence proclaimed by Phoenician states from the Persian Empire.
* 358 BC: Triple city coalesced into one entity; became the center of Phoenician confederation and neutral meeting ground for the governors of the three main Phoenician cities/seaports: Aradus (modern Ruad in Syria), Sidon, and Tyre.
* 333 BC: Alexander the Great in Phoenicia following victory over Persian king at Issus, arsenals of Tripolis harbor burned down.
* 323 BC: Alexander's death and break-up of his empire into three parts: Macedon, Egypt (ruled by the Ptolemies), and the Seleucid Empire. Struggle between the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucid kings of Antioch; Tripolis passed back and forth between the two powers.
* 64 BC: Phoenicia and the rest of Syria became a Roman province; Tripoli, Tyre and Sidon granted privileges of self-government (secondary role of Tripolis compared to Beirut and Sidon); Roman general Pompey beheaded Dionysius, the ruler of Tripolis, judged as tyrant.
* 37-36 BC: Tripolis is a part of the donations by Marc Antony to Cleopatra.
* 117-138 AD: Under emperor Hadrian Tripolis was granted the right of asylum and assigned a naval command; it became an important religious center with a temple for imperial cult; from numismatic evidence it must have had temples dedicated to Astarte, the Dioscuri and Zeus Haghios.
* 551 AD: City destroyed by earthquake and tidal wave and rebuilt with the help of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
* 645/646 AD: Muslim army laid siege to Tripoli. General Sufyan built a fort on Abu Samra hilltop to survey the city; population fled to Cyprus; Tripoli captured and resettled with Persians and Jewish population.
* 646-1070 AD: Tripoli subject to Byzantine incursions during the Ummayad, Abassid and Fatimid rule aimed at the control of the coastal road.
* 1070-1109 AD: Tripoli politically independent from the Fatimids under the Banu Ammar emirs, who built the famous Dar Al-Ilm (a library that contained around 3,000,000 manuscripts).
* 1099 AD: Beginning of a ten years siege of Tripoli by Raymond of Saint-Gilles, count of Toulouse (d. 1105 prior to the ending of the siege).
* 1103 AD: Beginning of the construction of the Citadel.
* 1109 AD: Fall of Tripoli to the Crusaders and its rebuilding over Muslim town.
* 1268 AD: The castle and the Crusaders burg occupied and destroyed by Baibars.
* 1289 AD: Fall of Crusader Tripoli (harbor city or El Mina) to Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun.
* 1289 AD: Fall of Crusader Tripoli (harbor city) to Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun; city site transferred inland at the foot of Mount Peregrinus (Abu Samra) for protection against the return of the knights still on Cyprus and Rhodes; Arab Tripoli or medina built around inland citadel (the castle of saint-Gilles) over Crusader bourg and along the banks of Qadisha River (Abu Ali).
* 1516 AD: Syria and Egypt fell to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I.
* 1535 AD: Signature of treaty by Suleiman the Magnificent and Francois I, king of France, giving France favors and privileges in the Levant.
* 1612 AD: Flood destroyed Mamluk monuments.
* 1623 AD: Fakhr-ed-Din attacked the forces of Pasha of Tripoli at Anjar; Tripoli fell to Fakhr-ed-Din, (Sultan al-Barr or Sultan of the Land).

ister cities

flagicon|Italy Naples, Italy

flagicon|Syria Damascus, Syria

flagicon|Cyprus Larnaca, Cyprus

flagicon|Portugal Faro, Portugal

See also

* El Mina
* Krak des Chevaliers
* Raymond IV of Toulouse
* Siege of Tripoli
* County of Tripoli


External links

* []
* [ : pictures of Tripoli, Beirut, Lebanon]

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