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  • 466
  • Date :
  • 7/9/2003

BEIRUT

(Arab. Bayrut, Fr. Beyrouth)

Capital of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains, Beirut, is an important port and financial center. Before the civil war of 1975–90 Beirut was also a flourishing tourist center, known for its beauty and luxury.
Beirut was originally a Phoenician city and in ancient times was called Berytos.
Berytos probably comes from Berûti, the Phoenician name of a fish-goddess related to the god of Gebal or Byblos, two towns of the Giblites, a Chanaanite tribe. Berytos was the birthplace of Sanchoniathon, an early Phoenician author, and seems to have been unimportant in remote times. It is mentioned by the Greeks before Alexander, but is not spoken of in connection with the expeditions of this conqueror. After the time of Antiochus IV, Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.), Berytos was known as Laodicea of Chanaan, a name which it kept until the reign of Alexander II, Zabinas (129-123 B.C.);[ see J. Rouvier, in "Revue de numismatique" (1896), and "Revue biblique", VII, 272-275]. According to Strabo (XVI, ii, 9) it was destroyed by King Tryphon (137-134 B.C.). If this be true, it must have been rebuilt after a short time, for there are records for the complete series of the coins of Berytos from 123 to 14 B.C. It is certain that the Romans enlarged and embellished it; that it was garrisoned by two legions, the Leg. V Macedonica and Leg. VIII Augusta, and that in the year 14 B.C. it became a Roman colony with the name Colonia Julia Augusta Felix Berytus, so called after Julia, the daughter of Augustus (Mommsen, Res gestae divi Augusti, II, 119).

The Jewish kings Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa I, and Herod Agrippa II built sumptuous monuments at Berytos and gave gladiatorial combats there (Josephus, Bell. Jud., I, xxi, 11; Antiq., XVI, xi, 2; XVII, x, 9; XIX, vii, 5; XX, ix, 4); Titus also, after the siege of Jerusalem, gave gladiatorial games at Berytos, in which the combatants were Jews. (Josephus, Bell. Jud. VII, iii, 1.) From that time dates the magnificent aqueduct, the remains of which are yet visible, which carried to the city the waters of the River Magoras, now Nahr Beiruth. About the middle of the third century Berytos became the seat of the most renowned law school in the Eastern Roman Empire. Many celebrated jurisconsults were among its teachers (Montreuil, Hist. du droit byzantin, I, 264-273, 279-283). This school was spared by Justinian when he closed all similar schools in favour of Constantinople. Berytos became aChristian see at an early date, and was a suffragan of Tyre in Phoenicia Prima, a province of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
In 450 Beirut obtained from Theodosius II the title of metropolis, with jurisdiction over six sees taken from Tyre; but in 451 the Council of Chalcedon restored these to Tyre, leaving,
 however, to Beirut its rank of metropolis (Mansi, VII, 85-98). The city was captured on 27 April, 1111, by Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, and with the exception of short intervals was held by the Franks till 1241. At an early date they established there a Latin see subject to Tyre and, with the provinces of Arabia and Phoenicia Prima, erroneously comprised in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Lists of its Latin bishops are available (Lequien, III, 1325-27; Gams, 434; Eubel, I, 137; II, 117; Revue Benedictine, 1904, 133-34).

Owing to the fertility of the soil and the security of the harbour, Beirut soon became one of the most active commercial cities in the East. The Druze Emir Fakhr al-Din (1595-1634) improved the city and made it better known in Europe.

In the 19th cent. Beirut was one of the centers of the revolt ofMuhammad Ali of Egypt against the Ottoman Turks.Ibrahim Pasha took it for the Egyptians (1830), but in 1840 the French and British bombarded and captured the city, reestablishing Ottoman rule. It was taken (1918) by French troops in World War I. Beirut became the capital of Lebanon in 1920 under the French mandate. The French rapidly developed the city, despite the domestic tensions that arose between the Muslim and Christian populations.

In the 19th cent. Beirut was one of the centers of the revolt ofMuhammad Ali of Egypt against the Ottoman Turks.Ibrahim Pasha took it for the Egyptians (1830), but in 1840 the French and British bombarded and captured the city, reestablishing Ottoman rule. It was taken (1918) by French troops in World War I. Beirut became the capital of Lebanon in 1920 under the French mandate. The French rapidly developed the city, despite the domestic tensions that arose between the Muslim and Christian populations.

Violence erupted in 1958, and fierce fighting began again in 1975 and 1976 when the civil war broke out. Throughout the 1980s the city was a base for a number of militant extremist groups. In 1990 Christian and Muslim militias withdrew, ending the division of Beirut and returning it to the control of the national government.

Sights around Beirut

Roman and Byzantine Structures


Group of five columns

These columns found on the left of the St. George Maronite Cathedral, were once part of a grand colonnade of Roman Berytus. They were found in 1963.

Roman Exedra

Discovered west of the St. George Maronite Cathedral, this semi-circular cultural building was moved in 1963 to Blvd. Charles Helou near the eastern entrance to the modern port.

Roman baths

Now undergoing clearance and landscaping. View of brick vaults supporting the floors and allowing hot air to circulate, heating the warm and hot rooms and bathing areas. From Roman times to the present, baths have served as important public and social meeting places (excavations of the Directorate General of Antiquities).

Four corniced columns

These columns in front of the Parliament Building in Nejmeh Square were discovered
in 1968-69.

Highly carved colonnade

Found in the 1940's between Nejmeh Square and the Great mosque, this five column colonnade is part of the Roman basilica.

Crusaders, Mamluke and Ottoman Structures


Medieval wall

An excavated wall dating from Crusader and Mamluke times can be seen north of Weygand Street along the old Patriarch Howayyek Street.

Crusader Castle

A large Crusader land castle once stood near the present port area. Excavations in 1995 revealed a large well-preserved section of the foundation wall complete with Roman column drums used as bond-stones or reinforcements.

The Grand Serail

Constructed in 1853, as an ottoman military Barracks, this building was the headquarters of the French governor during the French Mandate. After Lebanon's Independence, it became the Governmental Palace.

Ottoman Clock Tower

Located near the Grand Serail, this tower was built in 1897 and restored in 1994.

Ottoman Military Hospital

Just in front of the Grand Serail, this large building was constructed in 1860 as a military hospital. From the French Mandate Period until the 1960's it served as Law Courts. Completely renovated, it now houses the Council for Development and Reconstruction.

Al-Omari Mosque

Originally the Crusader Cathedral of St. John (1113 - 1115 A.D.), the building was transformed into the city's Grand Mosque by the Mamlukes in 1291.

Zawiyat Ibn al-'Arraq

Built in 1517 by Mohammed Ibn al-'Arraq al-Dimashqi, this building was originally an Islamic law school and continued as an Islamic sanctuary into late Ottoman times.

Emir Mansour Mosque

The Emir Mansour Mosque was built in 1620 on an earlier structure. Also called Naoufara (Fountain) Mosque, there are eight Roman columns in its courtyard.

Majidjiyyeh Mosque

This mosque was constructed in the mid-19th century and named after the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Majid I (1839-1861).

Churches

 The Greek-Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George

Until the recent war in Lebanon this church, built in 1767, was the oldest functioning church in Beirut. The decorations on its walls were lost during the war.

The Greek-Catholic cathedral of Saint Elias

This mid-19th century church with its vaulted interior was once decorated with a marble iconostasis.

The

Saint Louis Church of the Capucins

Inaugurated in 1863, this church served the foreign community of the Latin rite in Beirut.

The

Evangelical Church

This church was built in 1867 by a group of Evangelical Anglo-American missionaries.

The Maronite Cathedral of Saint George

Built in 1888, the style of this church is neo-classical.

Museums

National Museum

Opened in 1942 to house Lebanon’s archeological treasures, the National Museum on Damascus Street is temporarily closed.
Projects are underway to restore the building and gradually bring this national institution back to its former importance.

Taken from:

http://www.middleeast.com/beirut.htm

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02392a.htmhttp://www.infoplease.com/ce6/world/A0806803.html

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