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Built thousands years ago, Beirut historical past was known on the archeological level, through minor dis-coveries. It was peace reinstatement in 1991 that enabled systematic and scientific explo-rations.

Until then, Beirut Central District, home of the ancient capital, was destroyed. Its reconstruction was planned through archeological excavations in 1993, in order to unveil the hidden wealth of the city.

A few historical marks:

The city's name had appeared on cuneiform inscriptions dating from the 14th century BC. By the end of the 1st century BC, Beirut became a Roman colony which persisted up to the Byzantine period. The glory and prestige of the city were ravaged in 551 AD by a triple catastrophe : an earthquake, an ebb and flow and a devouring fire.

En 1110, Beirut fell to the Crusaders and succumbed to the Mameluks conquest in 1291. Beirut was then subjugated by the Ottomans in 1516 and endured their domination for 400 years. Awakening after that to the world war I outbreak, the city became a French colony until 1943, when Lebanon gained its independence.
Today, the different structure remainsrelated to the domineering masters of Beirut are displayed in Beirut Central District.

Heritages of History :

Heritages from Roman & Byzantine periods :
1. Located to the left of the Maronite St-George Cathedral, five columns were discovered in 1963, going back to the Roman epoch.
2. Discovered in 1968-69, behind the street of the Banks, Roman Thermals or public bath were explored between 1975 and 1997.
3. Located in the heart of the Place de l'Etoile, facing the parliament, 4 columns with their architrave were found in 1968-69 when "Sa'at al-Abd" (the Clock Tower) was removed. The mosaics seen today in the square of the National Museum of Beirut, were found a Byzantine church in Khalde around the fifties.

Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman structures:
1. The excavators found remains of the Crusader Castle built near the port in 1995. This same castle was demolished when development works in the port were undertaken in 1860.
2. The Grand Serail, first built by the Ottomans in 1853, served as a military barracks. Under the French mandate, it was used as the center of the French governor then as the Government headquarters. Three years ago, it was the seat of the Interior Ministry and right now, the Serail is undergoing major restoration works in order to be once again the Presidency of the Council of Ministers place.
3. Facing the Grand Serail, is the Ottoman Military Hospital. Built in 1860, the Hospital hosted the Justice Palace under the French mandate and till the 1960s. Today and after its renovation, the Ottoman monument is the seat of the Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR).
4. The Tour de l'Horloge, next to the Serail, was built in 1897 and restored in 1994.
5. The Great al-Omari Mosque was first known as the Saint-Jean Cathedral, built between 1113 and 1150 by the Crusaders. The Mamluks changed it to become the greatest Mosque in the city, in 1291.
6. The Islamic traces are also seen in the following edifices : Zawiyat ibn al-Arraq built in 1517 and found in 1991, Emir Assaf Mosque built on a Byzantine Church site, Emir Mounzer Mosque built in 1620.
7. Other religious structures : Saint-George Cathedral (Greek-Orthodox) built in 1767 on Crusaders and Byzantine sites. It was considered the most ancient church of the city.
Also built in the Central District are the Saint-Elie Cathedral, the Capucins Saint-Louis Church (inaugurated in 1863), the Evangelical Church (built in 1867 to serve the Protestant community of Beirut) and the Maronite Saint-George Cathedral built in 1888.
Today, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is re-establishing its place in the world community. The Pearl of the Orient is booming once again. Tourists will definitely not be deceived by joining work and pleasure.

l Jbeil - Jeita - Sidon - Tripoli - Tyr l

Cultural Diary
in Lebanon