BEIT ED DINE
About 40 km southeast of Beirut, Beiteddine was chosen by Emir Bechir El Chehabi
II in 1788 under the Ottoman rule as the capital of Mount Lebanon.
The palace of Beiteddine was built over a thirty year period during the 18th and
19th centuries. The palace is the perfect example of Lebanese architecture, with
its arcades, galleries, and courtyards. It also has richly decorated ceilings,
colorful mosaic floors, luxurious Turkish baths, harem suites, and a guest house
in which French poet Lamartine once stayed.
The palace is divided into three traditional sections: Dar El Baranie - the
exterior lodging, Dar El Wousta - the middle lodging, and Dar El Harim - the
Emir's private quarters. The oriental palace has been declared a historic
monument and today houses three museums; a feudal weapons, costumes and jewelry
museum, an archaeological museum and a Byzantine mosaic museum.
The main entrance, leads to Al-Midan, the courtyard, where horsemen, courtiers
and visitors used to meet for various gatherings. Along the right side of this
court is a two-story wing, Al-Madafa, which was once used for receiving guests
of high rank.
At the northern edge of the Dar El Harim section is the "hammam", one of the
most beautiful in the Arab world. The second section of the baths comprise the
lukewarm room, or the tepidarium. This was used for massages and served as a
transition between the cold and warm sections. The third part comprised the warm
rooms or caldarium. The paving stones of the baths were supported by brick
pillars and vault with heated air passing underneath.
Beginning in 1943, the year of Lebanon's independence, the palace became the
summer residence of the president. Bechara El Khoury was the first president to
use Beiteddine and he brought back the remains of Emir Bechir from Istanbul,
where he had died in 1850. Today Beiteddine, with its museums and its gardens,
is one of Lebanon's major tourist attractions.
Beiteddine holds every year the Beiteddine Festival where Cesaria Evora, Elton
John, Majida El Roumi, Stomp, Montserrat Caballé, Andrea Bocelli, Joe Cocker,
Placido Domingo, Kazem El Saher, Notre Dame de Paris, and many more talented
artists performed throughout the years.
Mir Amine Palace
Mir Amine (Prince Amine) Palace was built for the emir's son, Amine. The palace
dominates the Beiteddine complex, and it was beautifully restored and converted
into a luxury 24 rooms hotel by the Ministry of Tourism.