This is the only island in Syria, and it is located 3 km from Tartus.
This is the only island in Syria, located 3 km off-shore from Tartous.It was an independent kingdom named Aradus in the days of the Canaanites. It was often mentioned in inscriptions because of its importance in commerce and seafaring.
Arwad provided shelter for those escaping from foreign invasions in ancient times, especially for the people of Amrit in the south of Tartous. Amrit still retains its name since the 5th century B.C. It has a temple surrounded by water. Arwad is a beautiful, small island, with a mass of houses and fortresses and narrow lanes. It has many cafes and restaurants overlooking Tartous and the sea. Its ancient citadel was used as a prison for the nationalists during the resistance against the French. The walls of some cells in this citadel are still covered with the writings of the nationalists.
From the fishing harbor of Tartous, fishing boats offer a regular service, increased on Fridays, to the island of Arwad, called Arvad by Phoenicians or Aradus by the Greeks and Romans, 3 km off-shore. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Well-entrenched in their island, the Arvadites, of Canaanean origin, had good relations with Tyre and Egypt, created numerous small colonies on the shore between Amrit and Djebleh, and opened trade routes towards the valleys of the rivers Orontes and Euphrates. Its masters included all those who dominated Syria, from Assyrians to Alexander the Great. The Arvadites took part in the battle of Salamine (480 B.C.) in the fleet of Xerxes against the Greeks. They were always able to withdraw in time and keep a certain amount of autonomy. In fact, they really declined only when Syria was annexed by Rome, in 64 B.C. The island was reputed for the works of Phidias and Praxiteles that it is said to have possessed. Saint Paul, in journeying to Rome, is said to have enjoyed a stop at Aradus to admire pagan statues. The Crusaders fortified it again and were its masters until 1302.
An excursion to Arwad will mean an agreeable and very restful walk, as this island is no more than a rocky shelf, 800 m long by 500 m wide. A long wall was built on the edge of the island, entirely surrounding it, except on the harbor side. Only some parts of this wall remain today. You will enjoy a leisurely walk in the village with its very narrow streets,. It lies at the foot of a crenellated castle probably dating from the 13th century. Another castle, Arab this time, was built at the top of the jetty separating the two docks.
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