Tyre, Al-Bass, Hippodrome


Tyre (Phoenician צר, ṣūr, "rock"; Greek Τύρος; Latin Tyrus): port in Phoenicia and one of the main cities in the eastern Mediterranean.

General view

Tyre's hippodrome dates to the second century. It is 90 meters wide, 480 meters long, had a capacity of about 40,000 people, and was built for chariot races. In the center was a large granite obelish. On both sides were meeting places for the supporters of the teams, which were called the Blues (in the western part of the hippodrome) and the Greens (in the eastern part). These were luxurious buildings, with mosaics and equiped with baths.

Although primarily meant for chariot races, the hippodrome was also used for other types of sport, and it is likely that at least some of the events of the Tyrian Games were celebrated at this place. It may have been the place where, during the Diocletianic persecution, five Egyptian Christians were tortured to death (text). The hippodrome is singled out as worthy of praise in the Expositio Totius Mundi.