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Hanging out

Deir El-Kamar

Lebanon Travel Guide - August 17, 2013, 10h58
Par Sara Lebbos
 Deir El-Kamar

Deir El-Kamar, or "Convent of the moon", was known for a long time as "Beit Sapharo" or "House of the moon". The crescent dominating the cross engraved on the old door of Our Lady-of-the Hill church, is not a Muslim symbol but rather a crescent moon to which the city owes its name, as inscribed on a stele from the pagan temple discovered after the earthquake of 1956.

Located in Mount-Lebanon, in the caza of the Chouf, the city was for more than a century the residence of the Maan Emirs who governed Lebanon in the 16th and 17th centuries and made it their capital. They built for their soldiers a palace, the Kharge, which was inhabited in the 18th century by the Chéhab dynasty before Beit ed Dine was built. The inhabitants of Deir El-Kamar, Christians in their majority, still take pride in their glorious past and affirm that this city remains for them "the center of the world."

South oriented above the valley, the small city is organized around a square, the midan, in the center of which flows a fountain of cool water known for its beneficial properties. On the west side of the square, a small mosque with an octagonal minaret, constructed in 1493 by Fakhreddine, is believed to be the oldest in Mount-Lebanon.

The kaissarié, or souk of silk, has been renovated and houses today a dynamic French Cultural Center which organizes every year, among others, the famous “Estivales” or summer festival. With its arcades, domes and square court, the kaissarié shows that Deir El-Kamar was an important commercial center until Beirut-Damascus road swept it away and pushed the city into the fringes of trade.

Deir El-Kamar
This city is dominated, on the mountainside, by several traditional houses.

The small streets, paved since the 17th century, have an Italian architecture style (Fakhreddine stayed some time with the Médicis family).
On the other side of the square, the Seraglio, built in the 18th century, includes a magnificent paved court ending above the valley by a kind of summer lounge. At the left of the entrance, a reception room is decorated with beautiful old woodworks. The stone chimney seems more modern. In the right side of the court, an abrupt staircase leads to the roof.

The Baz palace that goes back to the same period as the Seraglio closes the square at the East. It was built around 1760 by Emir Ahmed and then sold to Gérios Baz who was at the time Minister of Béchir II. The front door inlaid with marble and decorated with cable columns opens onto a court. A museum of wax, achieved by Emir Baz in collaboration with Grévin Museum - Paris, offers in two rooms of the palace a panorama of the history of Lebanon since 1512 through prominent figures, politicians, religious personalities….

The Baz palace, Deir El KamarBearing witness of this Lebanese constant represented by the uninterrupted succession of civilizations and men, Deir El-Kamar charmed many people, men of letters in particular such as Gérard de Nerval.

Tags
#CitiesofLebanon, #Destination
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