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El Mina, the City of "Waves and Horizons"
El Mina, the City of "Waves and Horizons"
Sara Lebbos

El Mina is a city bordering the waters of northern Lebanon. Its location used to be that of the old Phoenician city of Tripoli and has always played the role of a Harbor for Lebanon’s second largest city ‘Tripoli’. El Mina is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Lebanon in company with Byblos, Tyre and Sidon. After the Islamists reconquered the city from the Crusaders, the entire site of Tripolis shifted inwards away from the coast and the city of El Mina transformed into the harbor of the tremendous city.

This sleepless marine city of North Lebanon. Located on a headland overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, 85 km from Beirut, is famous for the historic coexistence of different religious backgrounds. Essentially, the city was inhabited by Orthodox Christian and Sunni Muslim with an outnumbered group of Maronites. They lived together in it for centuries and survived even through the darkest periods of the Lebanese Civil War. Since El Mina is situated at the middle of the Mediterranean commerce, the culture within the city is a combination of many cultures. As a result, many citizens are able to speak several languages aside Arabic.

Traditionally, El Mina was a bounded city and was equipped with 5 frontier towers to protect it in case of an external invasion, one of which is the Lion Tower which remains standing until today. The sea has given El Mina its distinguished features. It makes the living of its fishermen and craftsmen. Known as the City of Waves and Horizons, El Mina is a growing tourist city that attracts people from all around the country and the world. Previously known as Al Askala, El Mina acclaimed its new name (which means “port” in Arabic) through a presidential decree signed in 1979. History, the sea and the generous local people intermingle in El Mina to give it a distinguished glamour and natural beauty.

The old town: The old town is medieval in its design with the old souk, the fish market, the khan, the old cafes, the mosques and the churches that coexist in a quite pedestrian area. The main local industries in the old town are carpentry, fishing, pottery, Arabic ice-cream, oriental sweets and grocery.

The modern district: There is also a modern district that has lately become a lively zone with modern restaurants and cafes that offer delicacies from international and local cuisines.

Khan Al Tamasylee: Khan Al Tamasylee is a historical place that has been badly damaged during the civil war. Built by the Mamalik during the 14th century, it was initially used as a residence for the travelers and the negotiators.

The Lion Tower (Borj Alsebaa): The Lion Tower is a miniature fortress dating from the end of the 15th century that was built by the Sultan Qait Bey to protect the coastline against attacks from the Turks. It is an exceptional example of Muslims military architecture. At the top of the tower there is a terrace which has views over the city and the harbor area.

The islands: El Mina offers to the beach lovers a great escape. Along the sea front there are many boats that take you to the lovely nearby islands. The Palm Islands, which has become a wildlife sanctuary, consists of three far islands: Palm, Sanani, and Ramkine. During the summer, the Palm islands are open to visitors who can enjoy the crystal sea, the sandy beaches, fishing and scuba-diving excursions.

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