Underdeveloped infrastructure, overgrown vegetation and the sea overlooked by palm trees, as Banana grooves run for miles along the coast, act as a thick green barrier between the blue Mediterranean and the pot holed roadway running from Sidon to Tyre. The name of the city means, rock after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built.
Tyre, Sour in arabic, sings to its own tune, of a history so rich, of a land that’s been inhabited for thousands of years, and of the vast sea it faces. Its little fishing harbor gives the impression of a sleepy and peaceful backwater town with its brightly colored wooden boats lying lazily with their owners name freshly painted on them in blue as the soft wind brushes through them, gently rocking them.
A walk through the old part of Tyre is for dreamers and history lovers. As the fresh salty air drives you through its old alleys and narrow winding residential streets amongst its pot of plants and pictures of martyrs, its old souk seems to embrace you into its epicenter. Its roofed souk from the ottoman era appears to gather a world within a world, where locals and tourists’ life intermingle amongst the smell of fresh fish, running street water, jewelry shops, butchers, and fishmongers. In this world, where the light seeps through the roofs, choosing to embrace one thing over the other, the history of this little town unfolds. The sermons from two local mosques resound loudly in the air casting a spell above its old alleys that sways to a spiritual calling.
As the wind find its way through its alleys amongst its churches and mosques, the rich salt of the sea seems to cast a spell on the town. Life moves slowly there. The ancient ruins of Al Mina at the southern seafront makes one realize how steeped in history this place is. There is something about Tyre that is both enchanting and humbling.
As you walk around the northern side of the harbor, the city’s Christian quarter welcomes you with its little alleys and many churches. As the light of the early sun warms the earth, the many colors of their houses come to life reflecting the inner beauty of its inhabitants. In this little alley, the life of one is the life of other. The doors of their homes are always open, something I assume one learns from living facing the openness of the sea, humbly whispering of a daily life shared by its little community.
Heading south, past the lighthouse, a fantastic view of the sea opens up welcoming the sea to its rocky shores, with pristine blue water that lies gently waiting to be touched. As you sit there to enjoy the ever-changing landscape that comes with every sunset, remember this is Tyre, the queen of the sea, the one that helped shape the modern world into what it is. Don’t let its modesty or its dilapidated façade fool you, this beautiful spot of land is where the wind carried magical stories and tales of past times.
As I walked on its shore, I stepped on a couple of stones that the sea had just washed out under my feet, they were beautiful tiled mosaics, maybe old, maybe new, it didn’t matter. I took them in my hands in order to bring them back home with me. They were my way of keeping Tyre with me when I went back to my noisy city, yet Tyre’s blue skies and sea will always remain like a distant memory in my heart when I need to escape my daily routine.
If you listen wisely to the Mediterranean wind brushing through your hair whispering old tales in your ears and watch carefully under your feet to what the sea proudly displays on its shore, you will know that Sour is alive from within and its heartbeat is shared with those who love her.