The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          




The small island of Arwad, off the coast of Tartous, can be visited by a regular boat-ride service. Only 3 Km away, it only takes 20 minutes to get there.

Arwad, or Arvad to the Phoenicians and Aradus to the Greeks and Romans, was first used for urban settlement by the Canaanites. It was conquered by all those who conquered Syria and was always heavily reliant on trade. But when it was annexed to Tartous by the Romans in 64 BC, trade declined and its wealth dropped as its importance to trade diminished. St Paul is said to have stopped here for a visit on his way to Rome. It fell to the Arabs in 640, and it was where the Crusaders and the Templars made their last stop after being defeated at the mainland castles.

There are two small castles on the island; the one in the middle is the remains of the Crusader fort, which was built in the 13th century. The other, on the port side is an Arab castle and has now been turned into a museum. Also to be seen are the remains of the Phoenician wall, although some parts of it have been used for housing. This island is often visited by tourists and is quite popular for the locals who might visit for lunch in one of the many fish restaurants.

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