A+ A-

Lebanon's beguiling Tripoli named capital of Arab culture for 2024

(Report) by Ayoub Khadaj

BEIRUT, July 3 (KUNA) -- Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, overlooking the eastern Mediterranean Sea and dotted with historic and renowned landmarks, has been thrust into the limelight after it was designated by a pan-Arab regional body as the capital of Arab culture for this year, helping bring global expsoure to the country's second largest metropolis.
Thanks to the vast array of hotspots the city has to offer, being the eastern Mediterranean Sea's largest coastal city, it is among Lebaonon's most attractive destinations in terms of history and culture, with settlement dating back as early as 1400 BCE, while the Phoenicians established a trading station in the city before the Persians took over to form a confederation of the city-states of Sidon, Tyre, and Arados Island.
Lebanese call the city a "living museum" given its vibrant ambiance and omnipresent historic landmarks including The Arch of Marcus Aurelius, Tripoli's Red Castle and the Al-Majidya mosque, said the municipality's tourism and culture committee chief professor Khaled Tedmiri, citing that the sprawling metropolis is home to more than 180 places of archeological significance.
Providing a historical background on the rich history of Tripoli, Dr. Jumana Baghdadi, who is in charge of "reviving" the city's cultural and archeological history, recalled the major offensive launched by Mamluk Sultan Qalawun in 1289 which altered the course of Tripoli's history, as he ultimately succeeded in bringing about the fall of Tripoli and the destruction of the Crusader State, capturing its last stronghold, Saint-Jean d'Acre a year later.
She cited the Mansouri Great Mosque as the first monument built in the city of Tripoli after the end of the Crusader State, saying it remains the largest and most famous mosque in the city with a modern touch albeit with an ancient charm still intact, including some four entrances to the building that overlooks the numerous districts of the new city.
On the "urban distinction" of Tripoli, Tedmiri said the city is often called the second capital of the Mamluk Empire after Cairo, with Mamluk rule also stretching to other cities including Jerusalem and Damascus, but Tripoli remains the most "unique" out of all of them thanks in part to the Mamluk architecture that still runs across the city, namely, the ornate minarets and the carved stone domes that are a hallmark of the Mamluk period, he underlined.
He went on to say that those planning a visit to the city are in for a treat since it offers a fascinating blend of "anicent and modern" ruins, with the city's architecture reflecting the different eras it had lived through, making Tripoli one of the most "geographically" signficant locations in the country.
On such strategic sights, Baghdadi cited the Kadisha River, which runs 45 kilometres east to west from the Kadisha grotto, halfway between Bsharri and the "Cedars of God," to the Mediterranean Sea at Tripoli, saying the waterway often acted as a bastion against "Byzantine threats and invasions." In addition to its archietctural and cultural history, the city is also known for its economic value thanks to the vast landscapes that stretch across Tripoli, including its mountainous terrain and strategic waterways, besides its flourishing shipbuilding industrry that make it a trade and commercial hub, which subsequently creates a positive ripple effect on the national economy, he added.
On Tripoli being named the capital of Arab culture, he hailed the distinction as an opportunity to bring global exposure to the "capabilties" of the city, given that this ancient Lebanese city forms an integral and inextricable part of the wider Arab region's history, he said. (end) ayb.nam