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Tartus is currently the second largest port city in Syria, with a population of 115,769. Ancient Tartus dates back to Phoenician occupation in the 2ndmillennium BCE, when it was known as ‘Antaradus’.

Very little evidence of the Phoenician settlement remains, but the city became prominent in Greco-Roman times. Eventually, the city became an important Bishopric in the Catholic church and was favoured by the emperor Constantine.

During the Crusades, the city was taken by Crusaders and referred to as Tortosa. It was used by the Knights Templar as a military headquarters and was their last outpost on the Syrian mainland.

The fortress area of Tartus is rich in archaeological remains particularly of Crusader-era structures, including the fortified cathedral of Our Lady of Tortosa (now a museum). However, outside the old city and within the town, little remains. The city has been recently affected by the Syrian Civil War.

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