Friday, October 15, 2010

Lebanon - Beit Eddine

Beit Eddine.

Sent by Daniela, a Facebook friend from Lebanon.

This is from Wikipedia : Beit ed-Dine (in Arabic بيت الدين, translates to "House of Religion") is a small Lebanese town in the Chouf District, approx. 50 km southeast of Beirut and near the town of Deir el-Qamar from which it is separated by a steep valley. The town is famous for its magnificent Beiteddine Palace which hosts the Beiteddine Festival every summer.

Local emir Bashir Shihab II who was later appointed to rule Mount Lebanon, started building the palace in 1788 at the site of the Druze hermitage (hence the town's name, translating as "House of Faith"). It took about 30 years to complete. The best craftsmen from Damascus and Aleppo as well as Italian architects were invited and given much freedom, so its style is a cross between traditional Arab and Italian baroque.

After 1840, when Bashir was sent into exile the palace was used by the Ottomans as a government building, during the French Mandate its role was preserved and it served as a local administrative office. In 1934, it was declared a national monument. In 1943, Bechara El Khoury, the first Lebanese president, declared it the official president's summer residence. During the Lebanese civil war it was heavily damaged. After 1984, when fighting in the area receded, Walid Jumblatt ordered its restoration. Parts of the palace are today open to the public while the rest is still the president's summer residence.

Bashir built three more palaces in the town for his sons, till today only Mir Amin Palace survived and is today a luxury hotel.

Beiteddine is home to a Lebanese Red Cross First Aid Center.

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