Who Were The Ancient Phoenicians?

Posted by Crooked Compass

Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel were once an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea called Phoenicia. The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships adorned with horses’ heads in honour of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot who was the god of death.

Bacchus Temple
Bacchus Temple

The city of Tyr and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centres. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing centre until 332 BCE and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.

Our small group tour, Land of The Phoenicians, is a journey to discover and explore ancient Roman ruins, majestic cedar forests that lend their image to the national flag and a sea port town that once boasted the greatest naval fleet of its time. Explore the mysterious Crusader Castle of St. Gilles, be enchanted by the Jeita Grotto’s, witness the raw beauty of the countryside as you travel along the Mediterranean coast. What are some of the highlights of this tour that you can expect to experience - read on to find out more about this fascinating region.

Beirut - 'Paris of the Middle East'

No other Middle Eastern city has proved itself to be a hub of art and fashion quite like Beirut - a vibrant fusion of East and West as well as of tradition and modernity. From colony to couture a visit to Beirut will show how the Lebanese capital earned the nickname: The Paris of the Middle East. War-torn and tired, the people of Beirut have shown they can turn tragedy into cultural innovation.

City of Tyr

According to legend, purple dye was invented in Tyr. This great Phoenician city ruled the seas and founded prosperous colonies such as Cadiz and Carthage, but its historical role declined at the end of the Crusades. There are many important archaeological remains, mainly from Roman times, located in this city and is associated with the important stages of humanity.

Astute navigators and merchants, the Phoenicians were reputed to have given birth to the great figures of mythology  including Cadmos, credited for the introduction of the alphabet to Greece and his sister, Europe, who gave her name to the European continent.

Tyre, Lebanon
Tyr, Lebanon

Village of Bcharre

Quaint, welcoming and charming - all words that describe this village in the heart of the Qadisha Valley. What Bcharre lacks in size, it more than makes up for in art, history and culture.  The village of Bcharre is also the birthplace of Gibran Khalil Gibran, the world famous poet, artist and novelist. You will have a chance to visit the modified 7th century grotto originally designed for hiding monks that was adapted into Khalil Gibran’s tomb before becoming a museum about his life.

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), who immigrated to The United States and published his most famous work, The Prophet in 1923, was buried in a 19th century monastery built into the rocky slopes overlooking Bcharre. The monastery, which has been converted into a museum, houses a large collection of Gibran’s paintings, drawings, gouaches and some of his manuscripts. His coffin is in the monastery’s former chapel, which is cut straight into the rock. The views of the valley from the museum’s terrace are quite amazing!

Crusader Castle of St. Gilles

The Crusader Castle of St Giles was originally built during the period from 1103 to 1104 and stood as a towering fortress above Tripoli and the river. Burned down in 1297, it was partly rebuilt the following century and is still used by the Lebanese military. Today, it's an impressive structure whose most impressive element is the imposing entrance with its moat and three gateways (one Ottoman, one Mamluk, one Crusader).

Roman Baths of Berytus in Beirut
Roman Baths of Berytus in Beirut

Jeita Grottos - Lebanon's Natural Miracles

The longest cave in the Middle East, Jeita Groota, is the pride of Lebanon. Located a short drive north of Beirut, this natural wonder has an array of breathtaking rock formations coupled with some incredible stalactites and stalagmites. A river flows through its glistening caverns and feeds the nearby Nahr al-Kalb, also known as the Dog’s River. Your visit will be sure to leave you speechless when you see what strong water currents can do over millions of years - truly an amazing sight! The cave’s name – Jeita – comes from the town within which it is located, and can be translated to ‘roar’ or ‘noise of water’.

Make this experience yours, let us help you secure your spot on this amazing adventure of a lifetime - Land of the Phoenicians. Contact us today!