12. Tyre, Lebanon: When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 2,750 BC
The legendary birthplace of Europa and Dido, Tyre was founded around 2,750 BC, according to Herodotus. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC following a seven-month seige and became a Roman province in 64 BC. Today, tourism is a major industry: the city's Roman Hippodrome is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Bible: "Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes.”
10. Beirut, Lebanon: When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 3,000 BC
Lebanon's capital, as well as its cultural, administrative and economic centre, Beirut's history stretches back around 5,000 years. Excavations in the city have unearthed Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman remains, while it is mentioned in letters to the pharaoh of Egypt as early as the 14th century BC. Since the end of the Lebanese civil war, it has become a lively, modern tourist attraction.
Jan Morris (Welsh historian and travel writer): “To the stern student of affairs, Beirut is a phenomenon, beguiling perhaps, but quite, quite impossible.”
6. Sidon, Lebanon: When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 4,000 BC
Around 25 miles south of Beirut lies Sidon, one of the most important - and perhaps the oldest - Phoenician cities. It was the base from which the Phoenician's great Mediterranean empire grew. Both Jesus and St Paul are said to have visited Sidon, as did Alexander the Great, who captured the city in 333 BC.
Charles Méryon (French artist): "Few persons new to the climate escape a rash of some description."
2. Byblos, Lebanon: When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 5,000 BC
Founded as Gebal by the Phoenicians, Byblos was given its name by the Greeks, who imported papyrus from the city. Hence the English word Bible is derived from Byblos. The city's key tourist sites include ancient Phoenician temples, Byblos Castle and St John the Baptist Church - built by crusaders in the 12th century - and the old Medieval City Wall. The Byblos International Festival is a more modern attraction, and has featured bands such as Keane and Jethro Tull.