Tripoli, 85 kilometers north of Beirut, has a special character all its own. Thanks to its historical wealth, relaxed lifestyle and thriving business climate. This is a city where modern and medieval blend easily into a lively and hospitable metropolis. Known as the capital of the North, Tripoli is Lebanon's second largest city.
Tripoli was founded by the Phoenicians in 800 BC and was named Athar, during the Persian era it became the center of Sidon, Tyre and Arados Island (Arwad in Syria) confederation, where Phoenicians met to debate their important affairs, thus became known as Tripoli or "the three cities".
The city flourished under Muslims as many of its principal monuments goes back to the Islamic times such as the Great Mosque and the Mosque of Taynal (built with elements from ancient and Crusader monuments), madrassas (theological schools), khans (caravansary), souqs (bazaars), and the famous Assiba Tower which was built by Mamluks in the 15th BC.
45 buildings in the city, many dating from the 14th century, have been registered as historical sites. Twelve mosques from Mamluk and Ottoman times have survived along with an equal number of madrassas. Secular buildings include hammams (public baths), which followed the classical pattern of Roman-Byzantine baths and the khan.
The souqs, together with the khans, form an agglomeration of various trades where tailors, jewelers, perfume-makers, tanners and soap-makers work in surroundings that have changed very little over the last 500 years.
Towering above the Abu-Ali River nearby stands the Fortress of Saint Gilles (Sinjil), built by Raymond de St. Gilles on Mount Pelerin in the early 12th BC and which was since remade and enlarged by the Mamluks and Ottomans.