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Offshore Islands

Tripoli-Lebanon And The :
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Phoenicians
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Persian Empire
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Selucid Empire
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Emperors of Rome
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Arabs
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Crusaders
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Slave Sultan of Egypt (Mamalik )
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Ottomans
WB00827_.GIF (132 bytes) Offshore Islands

The Offshore Islands Of Tripoli

Opposite Tripoli are four islands located at a slight distance from the shore . The largest is called today the "Island of Palm Trees" by some, and by others "Rabbits’ Island". There is no life on this arid, windswept isle therefore one wonders why the island has been given such unusual names. Once again our literary sources provide a plausible answer. Several hundred years ago these offshore islands offered safe anchorage for foreign vessels. Two Dutch travelers in the year 1795 observe: "The harbor (of Tripoli) is very much exposed, its chief shelter for the vessels being two small islands about five miles from land. The one is called Pigeon Island from the multitude of pigeons on it; and the other Rabbit Island, a name given it by a master of a Dutch ship on his putting ashore a number of those creatures, which have since so greatly increased that the sailors frequently enjoy the benefit of his economy.’ Top page 

The presence of numerous potsherds dating to the late Roman and medieval periods as well as several rock-cut cisterns suggested the presence of an important settlement there. The first excavation of "Rabbits’ Island" was undertaken in October 1973 and revealed foundations of several buildings dating to the Crusades in which earlier architectural elements, such as column drums and fragments of capitals had been re-used."

Several medieval sources mention the offshore isles of Tripoli. The Arab geographer Idrisi who visited Tripoli during the twelfth century at the time the city was ruled by Raymond III of Toulouse writes: "Opposite the city of Tripoli are four islands in a row. The first of them, and nearest to the land, is the Narcissus Isle (an -Narjis) ; it is very small and is unoccupied. Then comes the Isle of the Column (al-tantid), then Monk’s Isle (ArRdhib), and then the Isle of Ardhdkun (or Udhákun). Top page 

The Crusaders built a church upon the largest island. It was there that the widow of Hugh I of Cyprus, Alix de Champagne, came in 1224 to marry Bohemund, son of the Prince of Antioch, and the royal wedding took place within the church. Years later the island became the scene of a bloody massacre. When the Mamluks entered Tripoli in 1289, the panic-stricken inhabitants fled to the port and crossed over to the island. Many took refuge in the church which we are told by Arab chroniclers was dedicated to Santomas (Saint Thomas). There they were put to death when the Mamluks caught up with them.’ The island then was abandoned for many years and the church with time and neglect fell into ruins. Top page 

Barely a decade before the sack of Tripoli by the Mamluks, a pilgrim journeying to the Holy Land gives a description in his travel account of the prosperous conditions in the Crusader city:

Two leagues beyond Nephin (Enfe) is Tripoli, an exceeding noble city, standing almost entirely in the sea like Tyre. It is full of people, for therein dwell Greeks and Latins, Armenians, Maronites, Nestorians and many others. Much work is done there in silk. I have heard for certain that therein there are weavers of silk and camlet and other like stuffs... The plain before the gates of the city is one league in length and half a league in breadth. In this space there are gardens, where in divers fruits grow in such plenty that it is said that every year they bring their owners three hundred thousand gold byzants. Top page 

The pilgrim also records in his diary: "The land round about it may without doubt be called a paradise because of its endless beautiful vineyards. And here he emphasizes the quality of the wine of Tripoli by referring to a biblical passage written many hundreds of years earlier: "They shalt blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon."’  Top page 

Tripoli has many offshore islands. The largest is called today the "Island of Palm Trees" by some, and by others "Rabbits’ Island".

Palm Islands Nature Reserve or Rabbits’ Island

This is the largest of the islands with an area of 20 hectares (49 acres). The name "Araneb" or Rabbits comes from the great numbers of rabbits that were grown on the island during the time of the French mandate early in the 20th century. It is now a nature reserve for green turtles, rare birds and rabbits. Declared as a protected area by UNESCO in 1992, camping, fire building or other depredation is forbidden. In addition to its scenic landscape, the Palm Island is also a cultural heritage site. Evidence for human occupation, dated back to the Crusader period, was uncovered during 1973 excavations by the General Directorate of Antiquities. Top page 

The Bakar Islands

Locally known as Abdulwahab Island, the island was leased to Adel & Khiereddine Abdulwahab as a shipyard, since the Ottoman rule and till this day a well known ship and marine contractor. It was also known as St Thomas Island during the Crusades. It is the closest to the shore and can be accessed via a bridge that was built in 1998.

The Bellan Island

The island's name comes from a plant found on the island and used to make brooms. Some people claim that the name comes from the word "blue whale" (Baleine in French) that appeared next to the island in early 20th century.

Fanar (Lantern) Island

The island is 1,600 meters (5,200 ft) long and is the home of a light-house built during the 1960s Top page 



Historical References

Photo Gallery

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Click to Enlarge , Photo by : Eng. Nabil KHAYAT

Ramkin Island

Click to Enlarge , Photo by : Eng. Nabil KHAYAT

Fanar on Ramkin


Photos by

Eng.Nabil KHAYAT

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