Tripoli lies on the Mediterranean coast in the northwest of the country about 65 km from Beirut. It is Lebanon’s second largest city and port, an important commercial and industrial centre, and a beach resort.
Founded around 700 BC, Tripoli became the capital of the Phoenician triple federation of city states—Sidon, Tyre and Aradus—before coming under Seleucid and then Roman control. In AD 638 the city was taken by the Muslim Arabs. In the early twelfth century it was besieged and captured by Christian crusaders under Raymond of Saint-Gilles (who built the citadel overlooking the city). The crusaders were ousted by the Mameluks in 1289, and the city was destroyed in the process. For four centuries after 1516 Tripoli was under nominal Ottoman rule. It was incorporated into the state of Lebanon in 1920 under the French mandate. Having been occupied by the British and French in the Second World War, it then became part of the independent republic of Lebanon. With a predominantly Muslim population, Tripoli was a centre of rebellion against the Christian-dominated government in 1958 and again in the civil war of 1975–76.
Tripoli comprises Al Mina (the port area) and the city proper, which contains the modern centre (Saahat at-Tall) as well as the old quarter dating from the Mameluk era of the fourteen–fifteenth centuries. The city’s main industries are oil storage and refining, soap manufacturing, cotton goods, sponge fishing, and fruit and tobacco processing.
Places of Interest
Tripoli’s principal historic landmarks are the Saint-Gilles citadel, the fifteenth century Lion Tower (built to protect the port), the Great Mosque (dating back to 1294) and the Teynal Mosque (to 1336).