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Places to visit in Tripoli-Lebanon :
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Mosques
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Churches
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Hammams
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Khans
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Kalaa
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Madrassah
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Palaces
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Souks
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Towers
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Districts
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Fountains
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Khanqah
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Old Houses
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Soap Factories
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Statues
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Takiyyah
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Clock tower
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Zawiyah

Mamluk Guard Towers of Tripoli

In al-Mina, the port section of Tripoli, stand the ruins of four great guard towers built by order of the Mamluk sultans of Egypt to defend their inland city of Tarabulus from sea attack.Originally there were seven towers, three have practically disappeared. They were seen by voyagers during their sojourn in Tripoli many years ago and mentioned in their travel accounts.Of the existing strongholds the "Tower of Sheikh Affan", so-named because the mausoleum of a high official of Tripoli was built on its south side, has been covered and disfigured by modern structures and is hardly identifiable today. Bourj as-Seraiya, used by various public administrations of Tripoli, is now incorporated into the city’s modem gendarmerie building. Originally it was a square tower and several column shafts are visible in its walls. The lower story presents a vaulted ceiling dating to Mamluk times. Top

These towers were built over a period of many years by successive Mamluk na’ibs or governors of Tripoli. From the ruins of the destroyed Crusader port city, they collected the necessary building material in order to defend their vulnerable coastline against the Crusaders’ return. An Arabic text tells us that Emir Aytmish al-Bajasi was responsible for the construct,on of one of these towers during the reign of Sultan Barquq (I382~1399).

By far the best preserved is Lions’ Tower, Bourj as-Saba. Its blue-grey hued limestone walls are studded with sections of granite column shafts used as headers in the construction which come originally from the Roman temples of Tripoli. Its imposing black and white west portal with two projecting granite column shafts is reached today by modern -built steps . An artistic molding in relief surrounds the portal. Above, the commemorative plaque appears to have been wrenched out as well as lion relief carvings which probably gave the tower its name. The lower walls of the tower slope sharply outward at the bottom thus forming a miniature talus. This was done, it would appear, for defense purposes in case of heavy attack. Thus stone missiles, dropped from the machicolation above, would rebound with force against the enemy’s first and second. lines. Top

Within the tower, the raised ground -floor hail has six rows of groined vaulting which rest on pillars and upon wall buttresses. Coats of arms of several Mamluk emirs are painted as frescoes here and there on the walls. By the west staircase entrance there is a circular escutcheon painted in red displaying the wine cups of Sultan Barquq.

On the second floor over the main entrance portal the floor is pierced with five machicoulis to enable the defenders to pour boiling water and oil upon besiegers who forced their way into the tower. This floor also has two central pillars and groined vaulting and a central hail surrounded by eight rooms. A staircase leads to the roof. Of the crenelated parapets all that remains today ate fragments of machicolation here and there. Lions’ Tower is one of the finest examples of Arab military architecture in Lebanon and Syria and is an outstanding example of Mamluk military fortification. Top

The tower had been restored during the years 1441-1442 by Emir Julban, Mamluk na’ib of Tripoli. Extensive repair work was undertaken by Sultan Qaidbey in the late fifteenth century. In 1477 this sultan traveled to Syria to inspect the northern defense line of his realm. Fear of an attack by the Ottomans was growing from day to day. Therefore important reparation work was begun on the fortresses of Aintab, Biredjik and the citadel of Aleppo. Striking similarities exist between the architecture and decoration of Lions’ Tower and the audience halt built by Qaidbey over the entrance of Aleppo’s citadel. Top

Bourj Ras an-Nahar, "The Tower at the Head of the Rivet", is located about one kilometer away from Lions’ Tower and stands at the point where the Abou Ali River flows into the sea. It is a smaller structure and one enters it through a low door which leads into a hall with a groined ceiling supported by a large central pitlar. In the south walt there is a prayer niche, or mihrab, facing Mecca. A barrel-vaulted staircase on the east wall leads to the roof which has been completely stripped of its crenelated parapet..

Originally small circular buttress towers were built on all four corners of the tower, the whole being faced with flat, well-dressed masonry blocks. Vandals throughout the years have removed the stone facing from almost all of the surface of the towers as well as from the south and east sides of the building, exposing a crumbling rubble core. The west side, facing Lions’ Tower, is relatively well preserved. It is believed that Sultan Qaidbey undertook repair work on this defense tower too during his inspection tour of Lebanon and Syria. Top

Historical References

Photo Gallery

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Click here to Enlarge - Photo by: Eng. Lamia KHAYAT


Click to Enlarge - Photo by : Eng. Lamia KHAYAT

Barsbay Tower or Borj Al Sibaa





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Eng.Lamia KHAYAT
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