Phoenician Tyre was Queen of the Seas, an island city of unprecedented splendor. It grew wealthy from its far-reaching colonies and its industries of purple-dyed textiles. But it also attracted the attention of jealous conquerors, among them the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.
It was founded at the start of the third millennium BC. Tyre originally consisted of a mainland settlement and a modest island city that lay a short distance offshore. But it was not until the first millennium BC that the city experienced its golden age.
In the 10th century BC, King of Tyre, Ahiram, joined two islets by landfill. Later he extended the city further by reclaiming a considerable area from the sea and built two ports and a temple to Melkart, the city's god. Phoenician expansion began about 815 BC when traders from Tyre founded Carthage in North Africa.
Eventually its colonies spread around the Mediterranean and Atlantic, bringing to the city a flourishing maritime trade.
Recent excavations have uncovered Crusader, Arab, Byzantine and Greco-Roman remains, but the city that has come to light is the Roman and Byzantine settlement.
The loveliest relic is a reconstructed Triumphal Arch. A Necropolis situated on both sides of a long avenue is most impressive, and the Great Hippodrome for chariot racing is remarkable in that it was built of stone while most others were built of brick.
Also in Tyre is the Tomb of King AhiramÂ (970-936 BC), contemporary of King David (pbuh), who sent cedar wood and craftsmen to build King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.