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St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Beirut’s oldest extant church, the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral is also one of the city’s most beautiful, and it’s well worth a visit.

 

The long and dramatic story of church building on the site dates to the fifth century AD, and borders the auditoria of Beirut's Roman law school. The church influenced the teachings of the school as law scholars.

 

In 551 AD a massive earthquake destroyed the whole of Beirut, including the original Anastasis cathedral. In the 12th century, a cathedral was built in the same location. The structure was badly damaged by a 1759 earthquake and was pulled down to be built anew.

 

The third incarnation was begun in 1764 and the new, larger structure, with one nave and a vaulted ceiling, was completed in 1767. However, the ceiling collapsed, killing 90 people, due to the lack of supporting pillars.

 

Construction of the church as it stands today began in 1772, on a cruciform plan with three naves, and a new portico added to the north façade. The main western facade was enlarged and a new bell tower was built on the northwestern corner.

 

Be sure to visit the museum in the church crypt, which includes a number of finds such as oil lamps, smoking pipes, pottery, statuettes and Christian vessels and ornaments. Other vestiges kept in-situ include parts of the older churches' altars and apse, mosaics, stone engravings, tombstones and columns, some of which belong to the old city's Cardo maximus.

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