Built in 1853 by the Ottomans as a military barracks, the enormous Grand Serail was built using an architectural design epitomizing the late Ottoman military organization known as the “New Order.” Its elevated location and austere façade copies the Selimiye Barracks in Istanbul. The building served as the headquarters of the French governor during the French Mandate and has been the headquarters of the prime minister and the president of the council of ministers since Lebanon’s independence.
The Hamidiyyeh Clock Tower stands next to the building, the French clock faces of which were imported by the Ottoman embassy.
The Grand Serail complex also includes the Ottoman Military Hospital, a huge building built in 1860. It subsequently housed the Palace of Justice from the beginning of the French Mandate until the 1960's, and today it serves as the headquarters of the development and reconstruction council.