History and culture
Human habitation of Tripoli goes back to at least the 14th century BC, but it wasn't until around the 9th century BC that the Phoenicians established a small trading station here. Under Roman rule, the city flourished, but along with other Mediterranean coastal cities, it was destroyed by the earthquake and tidal wave that hit the region in 551 AD.
While the city’s conquest by the Crusaders at the beginning of the 12th century saw extensive destruction, including the burning of the city’s famous library, the Dar il-Ilm; which housed thousands of priceless volumes, many of the buildings standing in Tripoli today date back to the 1300’s and have been registered as historical sites.
The city’s main hammam is a classic example of a traditional Roman-Byzantine bathhouse, while the many tailors, jewellers, perfumeries, tanners and soap-makers still trading in the tiny souks produce their wares in surroundings that have changed very little in 500 years.
Modern Tripoli, which has a population of about 1.7 million, is divided into two key parts; mediaeval and modern. While the El-Mina; the ancient port area at the foot of the Crusader Castle, is where most of the historical and cultural sites are located, modern Tripoli, which surrounds it, is a wealthy and bustling metropolis dominated by commerce, banking and recreation.