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Lebanon

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    The road to Beiteddine leaves the coastal highway
17 kilometers beyond Beirut, just a few kilometers after the town of Damour. From there it climbs quickly along the beautiful Damour river valley for 26 kilometers to an elevation of 850 meters at Beiteddine. The most spectacular view of the palace and its surroundings is from the village of Deir El Qamar (Monastery of the moon), five kilometers before Beiteddine.
    The Beiteddine palace complex, Lebanon's best example of early 19th century Lebanese architecture, was built over a thirty year period by Emir Bechir El Chehab II, who ruled Mount-Lebanon for more than half
a century.

Beiteddine - Surrounded by history
   
In the Middle Ages Lebanon was divided up into fiefs governed by emirs or hereditary sheikhs. But in the 

 


Dar El Harim fašade

early years of the 17th century, Emir Fakhr Ed Dine II Maan (d. 1635) succeeded in extending his power throughout these princedoms and eventually ruled an area corresponding to present-day Lebanon.
His first capital was at Baaqline but because of a chronic water shortage, he was forced to move to Deir El Qamar where there were copious springs.
When the Maan dynasty died out at the end of the 17th century, the land was inherited by the emirs of the Chehab family. It was Emir Bechir Chehab II who decided to leave Deir El Qamar and to construct his own palace at Beiteddine (House of faith), a druze hermitage which today is part of the palace.

    In 1812, Emir Bechir obliged each of his able-bodied males subjects to provide two days of unpaid labor in order to ensure a plentiful supply of water at his new seat of government. Within  two years the project was completed.
   The palace remained the emir's residence until his forced exile in 1840. After the Ottomans suppressed the emirate in 1842 the building was used by the Ottoman authorities as the government residence. Later, under the French Mandate following World War I, it was used for local administrative purposes.
    The General Directorate of Antiquities carefully restored Beiteddine to its original grandeur after it was declared a historic monument in 1934. 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. Qualified guides are available for your tour through this monument, which is open daily. A visit to Beiteddine is ideally combined with nearby Dei Al Qamar

                            

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