The port city of Tyre was the ancient capital of Phoenicia and was best known for the production of purple dye extracted from the murex sea snail. As it is rare in nature, purple pigment was expensive in ancient times, worn only by royalty and other nobles.
The city's strategic and commercial value made it a target of many conquests, and several civilizations have left behind their architectural and cultural legacies. Roman ruins in the Al-Bas district include the largest and best-preserved Roman hippodromeor horse racing arenain the Middle East, which held more than 20,000 spectators.
During the recent fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah forces, Tareq Mitri, Lebanon's Minister of Culture, appealed to UNESCO and the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon to intervene and ask Israel not to bomb the ruins in Tyre.