Tripoli ( / ALA-LC: Ṭarābulus; Lebanese Arabic: Ṭrāblos; / Tripolis) is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in the country. Situated north of the capital Beirut, it is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Tripoli overlooks the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is the easternmost seaport in Lebanon. It holds offshore a string of four small islands, the only surviving islands of Lebanon. The largest of these islands, the Island of Palm Trees, was declared a protected reserve by UNESCO in 1992 for its rich ecosystem of trees, green sea turtles, and exotic birds.
With the history of Tripoli dating back to the 14th century BCE, it is home to the largest fortress in Lebanon (the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles), and continues to be the second largest city (behind Cairo) in Mamluk architectural heritage. In ancient times, it was the center of a Phoenician confederation which included Tyre, Sidon and Arados, hence the name Tripoli, meaning "triple city" in Greek. Later, it was controlled successively by the Assyrian Empire, Persian Empire, Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Caliphate, the Seljuk Empire, Crusader States, the Mamluks, the Ottoman Empire and France. The Crusaders established the County of Tripoli there in the 12th century.
With the formation of Lebanon, Tripoli, once equal in economic and commercial importance to Beirut, was cut off from its traditional trade relations with the Syrian interior and declined in relative prosperity.
The city borders El Mina, the port of the Tripoli District, which it is geographically conjoined with to form the greater Tripoli conurbation.
There is evidence of settlement in Tripoli that dates back as early as 1400 BCE. In the 9th century BCE, the Phoenicians established a trading station in Tripoli and later, under Persian rule, the city became the center of a confederation of the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Arados Island. Under Hellenistic rule, Tripoli was used as a naval shipyard and the city enjoyed a period of autonomy. It came under Roman rule around 64 BCE. In 551, an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed the Byzantine city of Tripoli along with other Mediterranean coastal cities.
During Umayyad rule, Tripoli became a commercial and shipbuilding center. It achieved semi-independence under Fatimid rule, when it developed into a center of learning. The Crusaders laid siege to the city at the beginning of the 12th century and were able finally to enter it in 1109. This caused extensive destruction, including the burning of Tripoli's famous library, Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge), with its thousands of volumes. During the Crusaders' rule the city became the capital of the County of Tripoli. In 1289, it fell to the Mamluks and the old port part of the city was destroyed. A new inland city was then built near the old castle. During Ottoman rule from 1516 to 1918, it retained its prosperity and commercial importance. Tripoli and all of Lebanon was under French mandate from 1920 until 1943, when Lebanon achieved independence.
Prehistoric Tripoli (before the 7th century BCE)
Many historians deny the presence of any Phoenician civilization in Tripoli before the 8th (or sometimes 4th) century BCE. However, a careful investigation of the sequence of Phoenician port establishments on the Lebanese coast will realize a north-to-south gradient, thus, indicating an earlier age for the Phoenician Tripoli. As well, the Phoenicians generally preferred cities that had islands in front of them, as is the case with Tripoli. In addition, the proximity of the Kadisha (Abou Ali) river would have been a strong draw to the area.
Tripoli has not been extensively excavated because the ancient site lies buried beneath the modern city of El Mina. However, a few accidental finds are now in museums. Excavations in El Mina revealed skeletal remains of ancient wolves, eels, and gazelles, part of the ancient southern port quay, grinding mills, different types of columns, wheels, Bows, and a necropolis from the end of the Hellenistic period. A sounding made in the Crusader castle uncovered Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, in addition to Roman, Byzantine, and Fatimid remains. At the Abou Halka area (at the southern entrance of Tripoli) refuges dating to the early (30,000 years old) and middle Stone Age were uncovered.
Persian Tripoli (from the 6th to the 4th century BCE)
Tripoli became a financial center and main port of northern Phoenicia with sea trade (East Mediterranean and the West), and caravan trade (North Syria and hinterland).
Hellenic Tripoli (312/311–64 BCE)
Under the Seleucids, Tripoli gained the right to mint its own coins (112 BCE); it was granted autonomy between 104 and 105, which it retained until 64 BCE. At the time, Tripoli was a center of shipbuilding and cedar timber trade (like other Phoenician cities).
Roman and Byzantine Tripoli (from 64 BCE to the 7th century CE)
During this period, Tripoli witnessed the construction of important public buildings including municipal stadium or gymnasium due to strategic position of the city midway on the imperial coastal highway leading from Antioch to Ptolemais. In addition, Tripoli retained the same configuration of three distinct and administratively independent quarters (Aradians, Sidonians, and Tyrians). The territory outside the city was divided between the three quarters.
Arab Tripoli (645/646–1109)
Tripoli gained in importance as a trading centre for the whole Mediterranean after it was inhabited by the Arabs. Tripoli was the port city of Damascus; the second military port of the Arab Navy, following Alexandria; a prosperous commercial and shipbuilding center; a wealthy principality under the Banu Ammar emirs. During a visit by the traveler Nasir-i-Khusrau in 1047, he estimated the size of the population in Tripoli to be around 20,000. Legally, Tripoli was part of the jurisdiction of the military province of Damascus (Jund Dimashq).
Crusader Tripoli (1109–1289)
The city became the chief town of the County of Tripoli (Latin Crusader state of the Levant) extending from Jubayl to Latakia and including the plain of Akkar with the famous Krak des Chevaliers. Tripoli was also the seat of a bishopric. Tripoli was home to a busy port and was a major center of silk weaving, with as many as 4,000 looms. Important products of the time included lemons, oranges, and sugar cane. It is curious to reflect that for 180 years, during the French rule, Langue d'Oc, the language of Provence, was spoken in Tripoli and a neighbouring village, owing to the influence of a number of Provençal nobles and courtiers who came here. At that time, Tripoli had a heterogeneous population including Western Europeans, Greeks, Armenians, Maronites, Nestorians, Jews, and Muslims. During the Crusade period, Tripoli witnessed the growth of the inland settlement surrounding the "Pilgrim's Mountain" (the citadel) into a built-up suburb including the main religious monuments of the city such as: The "Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Pilgrim's Mountain" (incorporating the Shiite shrine), the Church of Saint Mary's of the Tower, and the Carmelite Church. The state was a major base of operations for the military order of the Knights Hospitaller, who occupied the famous castle Krak Des Chevaliers (today a UNESCO world heritage site). The state ceased to exist in 1289, when it was captured by the Egyptian Mamluk sultan Qalawun.
Mamluk Tripoli (14th century)
During the Mamluk period, Tripoli became a central city and provincial capital of the Mamlakah or kingdom (one of six in Mamluk Syria). Tripoli ranked third after Aleppo and Damascus. The kingdom was subdivided into six willayahs or provinces and extended from Jubayl and Aqra mountains south, to Latakia and al Alawiyyin mountains north. It also included al-Hermel, the plain of Akkar, and Hosn al-Akrad (Krak des Chevaliers).
Tripoli became a major trading port of Syria supplying Europe with candy, loaf and powdered sugar (especially during the latter part of the 14th century). The main products from agriculture and small industry included citrus fruits, olive oil, soap, and textiles (cotton and silk, especially velvet).
The Mamluks formed the ruling class holding main political, military and administrative functions. Arabs formed the population base (religious, industrial, and commercial functions) and the general population included the original inhabitants of the city, immigrants from different parts of Syria, North Africans who accompanied Qalawun's army during the liberation of Tripoli, eastern Christians, some Western families, and a minority of Jews. The population size of Mamluk Tripoli is estimated at 20,000-40,000; against 100,000 in each of Damascus and Aleppo.
Mamluk Tripoli witnessed a high rate of urban growth and a fast city development (according to traveler's accounts). It also had poles of growth including the fortress, the Grand Mosque, and the river banks. The city had seven guard towers on the harbor site to defend the inland city. During the period the castle of Saint Gilles was expanded as the Citadel of Mamluk Tripoli. The "Aqueduct of the Prince" was reused to bring water from the Rash'in spring. Several bridges were constructed and the surrounding orchards expanded through marsh drainage. Fresh water was supplied to houses from their roofs.
The urban form of Mamluk Tripoli was dictated mainly by climate, site configuration, defense, and urban aesthetics. The layout of major thoroughfares was set according to prevailing winds and topography. The city had no fortifications, but heavy building construction characterized by compact urban forms, narrow and winding streets for difficult city penetration. Residential areas were bridged over streets at strategic points for surveillance and defense. The city also included many loopholes and narrow slits at street junctions.
The religious and secular buildings of Mamluk Tripoli comprise a fine example of the architecture of that time. The oldest among them were built with stones taken from 12th and 13th-century churches; the characteristics of the architecture of the period are best seen in the mosques and madrassas, the Islamic schools. It is the madrassas which most attract attention, for they include highly original structures as well as decoration: here a honeycombed ceiling, there a curiously shaped corniche, doorway or moulded window frame. Among the finest is the madrassa al-Burtasiyah, with an elegant façade picked out in black and white stones and a highly decorated lintel over the main door.
Decorations in Mamluk buildings concentrated on the most conspicuous areas of buildings: minarets, portals, windows, on the outside, and mihrab, qiblah wall, and floor on the inside. Decorations at the time may be subdivided into structural decoration (found outside the buildings and incorporate the medium of construction itself such as ablaq walls, plain or zigzag moldings, fishscale motifs, joggled lintels or voussoirs, inscriptions, and muqarnas) and applied decoration (found inside the buildings and include the use of marble marquetry, stucco, and glass mosaic).
Mosques evenly spread with major concentration of madrasas around the Grand Mosque. All khans were located in the northern part of the city for easy accessibility from roads to Syria. Hammams (public baths) were carefully located to serve major population concentrations: one next to the Grand Mosque, the other in the center of the commercial district, and the third in the right-bank settlement.
Major buildings in Mamluk Tripoli included six congregational mosques (The Mansouri Great Mosque, al-Aattar, Taynal, al-Uwaysiyat, al-Burtasi, and al-Tawbat Mosques). In addition, there were two quarter masjids (Abd al-Wahed and Arghoun Shah), and two mosques that were built on empty land (al-Burtasiah and al-Uwaysiyah). Other mosques incorporated earlier structures (churches, khans, shops, ...). One of the most beautiful mosques is the Taynal mosque, whose quiet design, splendid minaret and different cupolas make it one of the most interesting sights in the city. Mamluk Tripoli also included 16 madrasas of which four no longer exist (al-Zurayqiyat, al-Aattar, al-Rifaiyah, and al-Umariyat). Six of the madrasas concentrated around the Grand Mosque. Tripoli also included a Khanqah, many secular buildings, five Khans, three hammams (Turkish baths) that are noted for their cupolas. Hammams were luxuriously decorated and the light streaming down from their domes enhances the inner atmosphere of the place.
Early Ottoman Tripoli
During the Ottoman period, Tripoli became the provincial capital and chief town of the Eyalet of Tripoli, encompassing the coastal territory from Jubayl to Tarsus and the inland Syrian towns of Homs and Hama; the two other eyalets were Aleppo Eyalet, and Şam Eyalet. Until 1612, Tripoli was considered as the port of Aleppo. It also depended on Syrian interior trade and tax collection from mountainous hinterland. Tripoli witnessed a strong presence of French merchants during the 17th and 18th centuries and became under intense inter-European competition for trade. Tripoli was reduced to a sanjak centre in the Vilayet of Beirut in 19th century and retained her status until 1918, when was captured by British forces.
Public works in Ottoman Tripoli included the restoration of the Citadel of Tripoli by Suleiman II, the Magnificent. Later governors brought further modifications to the original Crusader structure used as garrison center and prison. Khan al-Saboun (originally a military barrack) was constructed in the center of the city to control any uprising. Early Ottoman Tripoli also witnessed the development of the southern entrance of the city (al-Muallaq Mosque and Hammam al-Jadid).
Even though a fair amount is known about the codes of medical ethics and practice and the physician-patient relationship in ancient civilizations, there is little evidence that the formalized practice of legally binding informed medical consent existed before the late 19th century.
A documented case of legal informed medical consent, which is dated 12 Shaban 1088/Nov 10, 1677, described the extraction of hernia of the Christian Ya'qub son of Ghanem, by the Christian Nicholas, son of Yanni:
"The reason why this document had been written down is that the Christian Ya'qub, son of Ghanem, the Monk in Balamand Monastery, Koura Sub-district, province of Tripoli, presented himself at the Holy Shari'a Council of Tripoli and hired and engaged the Christian surgeon Nicholas, son of Yanni, to extract his (Ya'qub's) hernia on the right side in return for a fee of 10 piasters. After the hired has undertaken to extract the hirer's hernia and treat it with ointments, the aforementioned hirer asked people to duly and legally bear witness that if the hirer died as a result of fate and Allah's divine decree because of his being treated by the hired, the latter shall not be held as guarantor for him; and the hirer has also relieved the hired from any responsibility for his death and blood money, and that the hirer or his heir after him shall not be entitled to any related claims made against the aforesaid surgeon. Effected and written down on the twelfth day of the holy month of Sha'ban of the year 1088. Witnesses: Mawlana Sheikh Mustafa - may his grace be augmented. Mawlana Sheikh Mohammed, scriber of the original copy. Mohammed Shalabi, Interpreter. Hussein Buluk Bashi. Haj Ramadan, Chief Court Usher."
The document, which was recorded during the Ottoman Empire, attests to the established practice of legal contracts between physician and patient, which were drawn up and signed in the presence of witnesses. It is interesting to note that the contract was not limited to the surgical procedure, but also included postoperative treatment and physician fees.
Ottoman Tripoli embraced many religious buildings, such as: al-Muallaq or "hanging" Mosque (1559), al-Tahhan Mosque (early 17th century), and al-Tawbah mosque (Mamluk construction, destroyed by 1612 flood and restored during early Ottoman Period). It also included several secular buildings, such as: Khan al-Saboun (early 17th century) and Hammam al-Jadid (1740).
In the late 1970s during the Lebanese Civil War, two neighborhoods in Tripoli, the Sunni Muslim Bab al-Tabbaneh district and the adjacent Alawite neighborhood of Jebel Mohsen, allies of Hezbollah, erupted into conflict, often leading to violence. During the Lebanese Civil War, this deep-rooted conflict was exacerbated when the Sunni were allied with Al Fatah and the Alawites with the Lebanese army. In 1983, the crackdown on Fatah guerillas in Bab al-Tabbaneh district was blamed as much on the Alawites as on the military. In 2013, the neighborhood took opposite sides in the Syrian Civil War and attacks back and forth during the last six months of the year left over one hundred dead. In August 2013 two Sunni religious compounds were hit by bombs that resulted in the deaths of forty-two people.