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Beiteddine

Lebanon Travel Guide - July 17, 2013, 10h34
 Beiteddine Palace

When Emir Bachir II Chehab decided at the end of the 18th century to leave Deir El Kamar and build a new castle of his own, he chose the village of Beiteddine located 50 km south of Beirut and about 1000 meters above sea level. Built on a former Druze hermitage, and surrounded by terraced gardens and orchards, the palace of Prince Bachir encompasses three main courtyards: Dar el-Baranié or the outer section, Dar el-Wousta or middle section, and Dar el-Harim or private apartments.

It is in this latter section that emir Bachir settled in 1806. The outer courtyard, Dar el-Baranié, is 60m long. According to the Arab tradition, it was a reception place reserved for passers-by, but it was also a theater for festivities and gatherings and the starting point for hunts and war expeditions. Dar el-Wousta is the most formal section of the palace; it was the place of the Emir’s guards, secretaries and ministers. This central courtyard that can be reached through two monumental staircases and a majestic lavishly designed gate is decorated by water fountains. The stables are built around the outer courtyards. About 500 horses used to wait for their riders there. The northern section of the Palace is the Hammam reached through the reception room. Bathers used to come here for relaxation before and after the bath.

Beiteddine Palace

The palace includes several museums

On the first floor, there was a museum of old weapons, music instruments, silverware, Lebanese outfits and traditional jewelry, but it was robbed during wartime. In August 1987, the Druze leader Walid Joumblatt restored the complex and converted a room into an exhibit including a collection of weapons, some of which date back to the 20th century.

An interesting collection of Byzantine mosaics coming from the ruins of a church of Jiyeh, the old Porphyreon, occupies the stables, the basement halls and a part of the gardens.

The museum benefited from additional restorations: A museum of the Druze leader Kamal Joumblatt, assassinated in 1977 was inaugurated on May 1st, 1991. It displays documents and manuscripts, telling the life story of this leader, in addition to a re-creation of his room at Moukhtara Palace where he used to isolate himself and meditate.

Other palaces were built by the sons of the Emir. The only one that remains in a good shape is the palace of Emir Amine, which is now one of the most luxurious hotels in Lebanon.

Beiteddine Mosaic

Tags
#Heritage, #HistoricalSite
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