Sur is the fourth largest city in Lebanon and one of its largest seaports. The city is located 80 km south of Beirut. Sur was founded in 2750 BC on the coast and two small islands. Under King Hiram in the 10th century BC. both islands were united. Since the 9th century BC, when the Phoenicians came here, the city began to be called Tyre.. It was one of the most significant Mediterranean cities in Phoenicia, from where the Phoenician troops went on sea voyages, and became famous for the purple paint produced here. Purple was obtained from the pigment of rare molluscs. The paint was unique and very expensive, so it became a sign of wealth. In 332 B.C. The army of Alexander the Great approached Tire. All local residents moved to the island part of the city, where they held the defense for 7 months. Then Alexander ordered to make a mound from the mainland to the island part of the city, after which Tire fell. Today, Sur is located on an artificial promontory protruding into the sea.
The main historical sights of the city are concentrated in two archaeological zones: the western – the Ancient City, which in ancient times was located on the island, and the eastern – the El Bass region, which was previously the mainland.
The most interesting excavation area of the Ancient City. Its southern part is crossed by the Great Alley 11 m wide and 170 m long. A colonnade is located along the alley. From the east, the alley adjoins the area of glass workshops, the buildings of which date back to the 7th century AD. Nearby are the remains of Roman baths, followed by a market square from Roman times. On the north side of the Grand Avenue are residential areas, where mosaics can be seen among the ruins, and a rectangular arena with five tiers of seats, where boxing and wrestling matches were held. Every year in July-August, a festival of folklore performers of the Mediterranean is held in the Roman arena. In the northeastern part of the Ancient City, the Roman-Byzantine alley Petit, the ruins of an octagonal fountain, as well as the base and granite columns of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, erected in the 12th century by the Crusaders, have been preserved.
According to aristmarketing, El Bass area covers the mainland of the ancient city. Most of the buildings here date back to the 2nd-6th centuries AD. From the main entrance begins a Byzantine road paved with limestone slabs. At its very beginning, you will see the remains of a necropolis with marble sarcophagi decorated with bas-reliefs, a little further away – a Roman columbarium (a room for storing urns with the ashes of the dead), a Byzantine chapel of the 6th century AD. and a tomb with preserved floor mosaics depicting Christian symbols. The Byzantine road ends at a 20-meter three-span triumphal arch, which in Roman times adorned the entrance to the city. Behind the arch begins a Roman road, surrounded by a colonnade. The road is covered with limestone blocks, on which traces of chariots passing here in ancient times have been preserved. Not far from here you can see the remains of an aqueduct and a large fountain. South of the Roman road is the main attraction of the El Bass archaeological zone – the Roman hippodrome. This is the largest hippodrome of ancient times: it had a length of 480 m, a width of 160 m, and a capacity of 30,000 spectators. Chariot races continued here for several days every 30 minutes. In the center of the Hippodrome stands the Crusader Church, which was built on the site of a Byzantine church.
Between the districts of the Ancient City and El-Bass is the district of Hey Er-Raml (“district of sand”), it is located on the site where the bridge once was located, built by Alexander the Great between the island part of the city and the mainland. In addition to the archaeological areas in Sura, the fishing port, buildings of the Mamluk and Turk eras and, of course, numerous oriental markets are interesting.
In the vicinity of Sur, it is worth visiting the ancient city of Saida, the city of glass craftsmen – Sarafand, mentioned in the Bible under the name Serepta, burial places of the 6th-4th centuries BC, which, according to tradition, were named after the most famous king of Tire – Hiram, and the coastal reserve Tyra. Thira Coastal Reserve was established in 1998 south of Sur on an area of 8 sq. km. In the center of the reserve is the source of Ras El Ain with the remains of ancient aqueducts, which was the main source of water for the Phoenician Tire. There are also marches in the reserve where migratory birds stop in spring and autumn, and the local sandy beaches in the summer become one of the few places on Earth where rare large-headed and green sea turtles lay their eggs. In addition, some parts of the coast of the reserve are open for beach recreation. You can also swim and sunbathe on the numerous beaches located south and north of Sur.
Also in the coastal waters of Sura, the ruins of buildings from the times of the Roman Empire lie at the bottom, which attracts diving enthusiasts.