Tartous, this small harbor city with over 160 000 inhabitants, is now Syria's second port city. Formerly known as Antaradus and Constantia in Latin or Antartus and Tortosa by the Crusaders, it has developed rapidly over the recent years, and has nearly lost its charm as a small fishing town. However there are a few remains that the Crusaders left that remind us of the past. 

History of Tartous

Not much remains of the Phoenician Antaradus (Anti-Aradus - the town facing Arwad), the mainland settlement that was linked to the more important and larger settlement in Arwad. 

This town was favored by Constantine for its devotion to the cult of the Virgin. The first chapel to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary is said to have been built here in the 3rd century. Two centuries later an earthquake hit the chapel and the altar was miraculously saved. This miracle was further enhanced by an icon of the Virgin believed to be painted by St. Luke resembling the one in Seidnaya. The church 'Our Lady of Tortosa' was built upon this miracle by the Crusaders in 1123. It now houses this altar and has received many pilgrims. 

Nur Al Din occupied for a brief time and then it was recaptured by the Crusaders. Tartous was placed under the control of the Templars who rebuilt and redeveloped its defenses. It was then recaptured by Saladin in 1188, whence the Templars locked themselves into the keep. However it was rebuilt and remained under Templar control until 1291. Tartous was the last stand the Templars had on the mainland of Syria departing to Arwad, which they kept for another decade. 

It was of little use to most, including the Ottomans and the French, however in recent decades it has quickly developed into Syria's second port. As for the Cathedral it was used as a mosque for a while then as a barracks for the Ottomans. It was renovated under the French and turned into a museum.


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