Category Archives: Old Lebanon

Alexander The Great’s Siege of The Unconquerable Lebanese City Of Tyre

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Tyr2

I was reading an article about the 5 ancient acts of war that changed the face of the earth and the Great Alexander’s siege of Tyre was mentioned among them, so I decided to dig deeper into it and it’s a mind blowing story to say the least! In fact, I am surprised they haven’t done a movie about that siege alone.

So how did Alexander turn an Island Into a Peninsula?

Tyre was one of the largest and most important Phoenician city states and was a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean. The city had a nearby island with walls extending directly into the water, which meant that it’s impossible to attack the fortification by land and you couldn’t attack the city with a navy (which Alexander didn’t have anyway). As a result, Alexander decided to do the unthinkable and started building a long land bridge to link Tyre back to land, and he did so while his army was attacked with arrows and bombarded by Tyre’s navy.

causeway

Once the water became much deeper, Alexander constructed two towers 50 meter long each and moved them to the end of the causeway. This wasn’t enough yet as the Tyre defense and navy were still able to counter all the attacks. Once Alexander was convinced he couldn’t conquer the city without a navy, over 200 galleys sent by the King of Cyprus and Greece came to his rescue. The Tyre navy was able to hold the attacks for a while but Alexander was finally able to make a small breach in the south end of the Island, and then launched a final attack and conquered the island.

Tyr 1934 Tyre view from an airplane, 1934

The article shows a picture of Tyre before Alexander’s attack and how it looks like now. As you can see, it’s no longer an island anymore. If you are interested in reading the whole story, check it out [Here]. There’s also this french article that I found and this short [video].

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Why Beirut Was Once Known As ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’

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P14376

The Business Insider published a nice article two days ago explaining why “Beirut Was Once Known As The Paris Of The Middle East”. They used photos taken by Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer who visited Beirut in its golden years. I am familiar with Cushman’s pictures as he had stayed at the famous Excelsior hotel which I researched and posted about earlier this year but I think the author should have looked for better pictures to highlight Beirut’s golden years. Most of Cushman’s pictures were of random people in the street and not of Beirut’s nightlife and extravagant lifestyle that led people to compare it back then to the French capital.

Funnily enough, one of the pictures show a merchant selling Kaak on the street but the author thought they were croissants, hence the comparison to Paris. As we all know, Kaak is a street food that’s very cheap and affordable to all, unlike the croissant.

croissan

I will try to collect some old pictures from the 1960s and compile them in a nice post to show why Beirut was truly ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’. You can check out all of Cushman’s pictures [here] and my post on the famous Excelsior hotel that was visited by Iran’s Shah [here].

Beirut experienced a renaissance of sorts in the mid-20th century.

Following World War II, the Lebanese capital became a tourist destination and financial capital, nicknamed “the Paris of the Middle East” thanks to its French influences and vibrant cultural and intellectual life.

That changed when civil war broke out in 1975, ravaging the city. Beirut has been rebuilt in the decades since (despite occasional violence), and is one again becoming a popular place for travelers.

Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer, visited Beirut in its heyday in 1965 and captured some stunning photos of everyday life in the city. These photos are being shared with permission from the Indiana University Archives.

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AUB Medical Gate: 1963 vs 2014

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Tramway_AUB_Med Gate_1963

Back in 1963, there was a tramway that passed right in front of the American University of Beirut. I found some old footage a while ago that you can see [here]. I always thought Bliss Street should be a car-free street and I hope this happens one day.

PS: It doesn’t look like they are taking good care of the tree as it has considerably shrunk.

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