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Historical Tourism

Walk Through The Paths Of History

 

Lebanon has some of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. Byblos (Jbeil) has been a city for over 7,000 years, and carbon dating puts its earliest known settlements at 9,000 years. Beirut and Saida aren’t far behind, while Tyre (Sur) is quite young by local standards at a mere 4,750 years, give or take a century.

 

Naturally, then, Lebanon is very much a living museum of ancient culture, evidence of which you’ll find in every little corner you happen to visit. Quite often, the historic sites of Lebanon contain remnants of several ancient civilizations in the same place. What today is a mosque may well have been converted from a Crusader castle, which may in turn have been built on a Phoenician fort, which in turn will likely have been built on a Bronze-age tell, the exact origins of which are buried in the past. You’ll find this historical multiplicity to be true in all of the ancient cities at sites like the citadel in Tripoli, and the Roman Law School—the first one in the world—in downtown Beirut.

 

And it isn’t just the cities, of course. Around the country you’ll find castles, temples and other signs of ancient life in abundance; in Baalbek, of course, but also in Mount Lebanon, in the rolling hills of the south, and way up north by the Syrian border. And more recent history is equally as fascinating, with beautiful constructions all over the country from Lebanon’s Emirs, the Ottomans, and the influence of the French on architecture from the mandate era. The Lebanese Civil War left its mark in its own way, and evidence of that will be plain to see as you walk around Beirut.

 

Whatever period of history you’re interested in, Lebanon has an enormous wealth to offer you. From castles and Roman columns to souks, mosques and decaying mansions, the history of Lebanon is truly staggering. 

Abbasid Period Ayyoubid Dynasty Babylonian Period Mamluk Period Neolithic Period Persian Period Phoenician Period Greek Period Roman Period Crusader Period Umayyad Period Byzantine Period Ottoman Period Emirate Period French Mandate Spring Summer Autumn Winter

Things to do

Smar Jbeil

Located on a coastal hill in the northern district of Batroun, Smar Jbeil is one of the oldest villages in Lebanon, and was a Maronite refuge during...

Roman Temple of Bziza

In the northern village of Bziza (85 km from Beirut) lies a well-preserved 2d-century Roman temple with three of its frontal columns still standing...

Grand Omari Mosque (Saida)

Facing the northern tip of Sidon's harbor, the Omari Mosque is said to be one of the finest examples of Islamic religious architecture of the 13th...

Bekfaya

One of the Metn District's most popular summer resorts, Bekfaya provides respite from the summer heat with its cool summer climate and the Naas...

Beit Mery

Beit Mery, an ancient town in the Metn District of Mount Lebanon, is one of Lebanon’s main summer resorts and is also known for its international...

Baabda

The town of Baabda, overlooking Beirut from hills, is the seat of government in Mount Lebanon Governorate, and home to the presidential palace.   The...

Qasr Naba

Also known as Qsarnaba, this rural village is well known for its hilly terrain, deep valleys, and agricultural lifestyle. Most Qsarnabans are...

Qamou’ al-Hermel

On a hilltop some six kilometers (3.7 miles) away from Hermel, there is a 26-meter-high stone tower capped with a pyramid which can be spotted from...

Bekaa

Qamou’ al-Hermel

On a hilltop some six kilometers (3.7 miles) away from Hermel, there is a 26-meter-high stone tower capped with a pyramid which can be spotted from...

Ra's al-Ayn Mosque

Known as “Masjid el-Hussein,” this mosque was built in 681 AD on the ruins of an ancient Phoenician temple, the stones of which were appropriated for...

Chateau Nakad

The Nakad winery is a family business originally founded in 1923 by Joseph Nakad in Jdita, West Bekaa. With noble grapes including Cabernet, Syrah,...

The Monastery of Our Lady of Najat

It has the largest bell tower in Lebanon. Built in 1720, the monastery is also known for its beautiful icon of the Virgin Mary, which was a gift from...

Our Lady of Zahle (Tower of Saydet Zahle)

Take an elevator to the top of the eastern Tower of Saydet Zahle and feast your eyes on tranquil vistas of the city and the Bekaa Valley beyond. A...

The Monastery of Saint Elias at-Towaq

This monastery dates back to 1755. It was renovated in 1880 after a fire. Today it stands as one of Zahle's most venerable monuments. 

Saydet Zalzali

Zahle's oldest church. Built in 1700, it originally stood at the center of the city. 

The Saraya (Serail)

The Old Serail, or municipality house, in the old part of town dates back to 1885. This beautiful historic building is a mix of European and Oriental...

Nabatieh

Doubeih Fortress

Next to the village of Shakra w Doubeih, Bin Jbeil District, on a hill with impressive, sweeping vistas, the strong arches of the Doubeih Fortress...

Tebnine Castle

Some 30 kilometers from Tyre, Tebnine Castle is at the top of an 870-meter mountain. It was built during the Crusade period in 1104 by Hughes de...

Souk al-Khan

On the road from Hasbaya to Marjayoun is the khan built by Emir Chehab in 1350. It is said that Emir Ali, son of Emir Fakhreddine Maan, was killed...

Al-Hebbariyeh Roman Temple

On the left side of the main road to Hasbaya, the ruins of a small Roman temple can still be seen.   Parts of the walls remain intact, rising to a...

Mosques in Nabatieh

Nabatieh has two historic mosques: One was built in the 16th century and stands at the center of town. The other is called the Mosque of the Prophet...

Beaufort Castle

On a hilltop overlooking the southern part of the Bekaa Valley stand the moss-covered remains of the Crusader Beaufort Castle. In Arabic, the...

Beirut

Grand Omari Mosque (Beirut)

Before being eclipsed by the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, the Omari Mosque was Beirut’s central mosque. It takes its name from the caliph Omar Ibn aI-...

Castle Square Belvedere Park

Situated in the central business district of Beirut, Castle Square Belvedere Park is a public plaza adjacent to the oldest archaeological site in the...

USJ Prehistoric Museum

With more than 500 prehistoric items carefully catalogued by Jesuit scholars since the 19th century, the Saint Joseph University prehistory museum...

Beirut Souks

The Beirut Souks is a reconstructed shopping strip in the Beirut Central District consisting of a complex of alleys and pathways. The old souks were...

National Museum

Inaugurated in 1942, the National Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of important archaeological objects. Reopened after extensive...

Hadiqat As-Samah (the Garden of Forgiveness)

Formally called Cardo Maximus, Hadiqat As-Samah (the Garden of Forgiveness), is an ancient ruin on which 15 civilizations have lived successively....

Roman Baths Garden

Part unearthed vestiges of the ancient thermal baths built by the Romans and part accentuated garden, this quirky and unexpected landscaped space is...

Grand Serail

Built in 1853 by the Ottomans as a military barracks, the enormous Grand Serail was built using an architectural design epitomizing the late Ottoman...

North Lebanon

Roman Temple of Bziza

In the northern village of Bziza (85 km from Beirut) lies a well-preserved 2d-century Roman temple with three of its frontal columns still standing...

Mosques and Madrassas in Tripoli

Tripoli is a living museum, with madrassas, mosques, hammams and souks scattered across the old city, and no visit would be complete without stopping...

Madrassa al-Qadiriya

Near the Ezzeddin hammam, on one of Tripoli’s narrowest streets, stands the Al-Qadiriyah Madrassa, built in 1471. It is the second largest madrassa...

Sidi Abdel Wahed Mosque

One of the oldest religious monuments in Tripoli, located to the east of Souq al-Attarine (the perfumers market) in the Al-Mahatirah neighborhood,...

Madrassa al-Saqraqiyah

The Al-Saqraqiyah Madrassa is in the Al-Haddadin neighborhood and is the best preserved madrassa in Tripoli. Built in 1359, the mausoleum of its...

Takiyya Mawlawiya

Built circa 1619 by an Ottoman governor, the Takkiya al-Mawlawiyya of Tripoli is the largest of the seven takkiya (old Sufi hospices) outside Turkey...

Al-Tahham Mosque

Al-Tahham Mosque stands on top of a souk in the Al-Haddadine neighborhood, and is accessed by a staircase. The date of its foundation and its builder...

Al-Ouwaysiyah Mosque

Al-Ouwaysiyah Mosque stands at the southern foot of the Tripoli citadel, on a hill known by “Suq el-Samaq” (fish market), in the Bab el-Hadid...

Mount Lebanon

St. Charbel Church Museum

This museum is situated in the entrance to St. Charbel Church, a medieval church built on the foundations of a Roman temple. Several Roman...

Our Lady of Ilije Monastery Museum

This monastery housed the Maronite Patriarchate from 1120 to 1440. It now preserves the oldest Maronite icons in Lebanon, which date back to the 10th...

The Two Defense Towers

Built by the Crusaders at the port of Byblos to protect its entrance, a chain was once strung between them as an additional defense measure. Today,...

The Crusader Castle

Built by the Crusaders in the 12th century over the remains of Roman structures, Byblos castle is an immense and formidable testament to the city’s...

Saydet an-Najat Church (Our Lady of Deliverance)

It was built during the 12th and 13th centuries over the remains of a Byzantine church. It is distinguished for its massive pillars.

Medieval City Wall

The old medieval part of Byblos is surrounded by a huge stone wall the Crusaders built at the beginning of the 12th century, which they braced with...

Louis Cardahi Foundation & Museum

This cultural and museographic center focuses on the history of Byblos. It’s located in a traditional house south of the Cathedral of St. John the...

Byblos Site Museum

This museum displays the excavations undertaken on the site of the historical preserve of Byblos. The history of Byblos, from prehistory to the Arab...

South Lebanon

Grand Omari Mosque (Saida)

Facing the northern tip of Sidon's harbor, the Omari Mosque is said to be one of the finest examples of Islamic religious architecture of the 13th...

Tyre Old Town

The souk in Tyre is a lively area. It was a khan during the Ottoman period, and an old house which belonged to an Ottoman noble family.   In this...

Al-Mina Archeological Site

Located in the old section of the island, most of the structures in this site date back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The site features a...

Al-Bass Archeological Site

This sprawling site lies 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) east of the Al-Mina site. Just past the entrance is a vast funerary complex, with hundreds of...

Saida Soap Museum

Beautifully restored and expertly designed, the soap museum building dates back to the 13th century, though the soap factory per se was built in the...

Old Souks of Saida

Saida’s old town easily rivals its counterparts across the region. Extraordinarily well preserved, the cool, winding streets of the souk retain their...

Debbaneh Palace

This gorgeous 18th century house has all the classic elements of an aristocratic Arab-Ottoman home, with a generous, richly-ornamented central space...

Sarcophagus of King Hiram I

On the borders between the villages of Ain Baal and Hanaway, there is a limestone sarcophagus traditionally ascribed to King Hiram I. Four meters...