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Discover The Hidden Beauty Of Old Beirut

A picture of old Beirut, Martyr Square

Discover some of Beirut’s most preserved gems. Hidden among newer buildings in modern Beirut, lies history of war, resistance and independence of old Beirut.

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is one of the oldest cities in the world having survived some of history’s most notorious eras.

The city is known to have been settled for more than 5,000 years no, and its name derived from the Canaanite-Phoenician word for wells, be’erot. Another theory says it was named after Beroe, the Phoenician daughter of Adonis and Aphrodite.

The city has been part of several large empire and cornerstones of modern civilization. Excavation of the city has revealed buried archaeological monuments from Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman rule..

Being once called the most Roman city in the eastern province of the Roman Empire, Beirut turned to Arab control in 635, and in 759, Prince Arslan bin al-Mundhir founded the Principality of Sin El Fil in Beirut. From there on, the principality developed into the Principality of Mount Lebanon, paving the way to the establishment of Greater Lebanon.

During Ottoman rule, Beirut was devastated and pushed into the a small town with a population just around 10,000, due to conflict between the Ottomans, the local Druze, and the Mamluks. But, rose once more in the second half of the nineteenth century, to become a commercial hub for the region. It became a center for trade and commerce, with European interest particularly in Lebanese silk.

After continuous decline, the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I, and Lebanon fell into French colonization. The French and the British decided to divide Greater Syria and added three regions to Mount Lebanon. With north Lebanon, south Lebanon, Bekaa valley put under Beirut control, the country Lebanon was established with a French flag with a cedar tree.

A large part of the population resisted the state upon creation, and wished for reunification with Syria. Resistance continued to into 1943, when France finally withdrew from Lebanon and the Republic of Lebanon won its independence.

Until this day colonial era architecture remains scattered around Lebanon, mainly in Beirut. Being the industrial and economic center of the Lebanon, the city of Beirut faced heavy urbanization. After the devastating civil war in 1975, and Israeli occupation from 1982, there was not one part of Beirut which was left undamaged. The city was rebuilt after the war ended in 2000, with most building demolished and new ones emerged above their ruins. But still hidden in the narrow streets of the City, carrying the humiliation of colonization, and the pride of resistance lies the beauty of old Beirut.

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