Tyre – The Coastal Hara

Tyre or Sour is a Lebanese coastal city well known for its uber rich history across different eras. Phoenicians (being the historical natives), Romans, Crusaders, Mamalik and Ottomans have all left their traces in the city and you can clearly see this through the historical monuments spread across the city. What’s most noteworthy is that Tyre was originally built at 5 meters below sea level and recent findings in Saydet el Bihar church clearly highlight this.

The most striking ruins are those erected by the Phoenicians and the Romans. They can be found in many spots across the coast. However, I won’t delve much into Tyre’s history or historical ruins in our post. Instead, I will attempt to steer your attention towards somewhere more contemporary and vivid, the narrow and colored streets of the Haret El Masihiye in Tyre. As one of Al Akhbar’s articles eloquently depicts this neighborhood:

When you tell people from Tyre “I live in Haret el Masihiyeh,” eyes shine and you might even hear “lucky you!” A sort of urban utopia, the hara is a small agglomeration of winding streets, where mostly stone buildings of the turn of the last century or older are accompanied by small gardens or courtyards and share an uninterrupted relationship with the street.

Getting There

Do not be fooled by Lebanon’s small surface. Tyre is FAR! The road trip will take you approximately  2+ hours from Beirut if the roads were clear. First off, you need to take the southern highway and drive straight until you reach Sidon. Once there, follow the signs and you will get to Tyre in around 45 minutes.

Our Journey

It was our first time in Tyre, and we only came across the Hara as we were following the maps to reach a restaurant for lunch. We parked the car next to the port and walked our way to the restaurant. Once inside the neighborhood, we got dazzled by the tiny yet spectacular buildings of the Hara; yellow, white, blue, pink etc. A myriad of colored houses all with flowers and small objects hanging on walls. Their sight is unbelievable it makes you feel you’re wandering the streets of Venice (minus the water).

This place will make you happy; coming across visitors roaming the streets with big smiles on their faces was very natural. These alleyways will require no more than 30 minutes to check them all, we spent the rest of our time having lunch under the sun.

Unfortunately however, a few meters away from the Hara the area is strikingly different. A small corniche lies around the coast and although it was filled with garbage, people were swimming.

Our Recommendations

  • We recommend that you spend the night in Tyre since the road trip is a bit tiring especially if you’re visiting during the weekend.
  • Apartments can be rented for as low as 35 USD per night, we saw ads on the streets.
  • The beach seems okay around the hara, try to take a dip.
  • We had lunch at Dar Alma, the place is tiny yet very pleasant.

Happy Roadtripping!