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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

Niha (Bekaa)

About eight kilometers north of Zahle, you’ll come across the small village Niha (not to be confused with the village of Niha in the Chouf). Like...

Kamed al-Loz

Excavators discovered at the center of the city one of the most important hills in the Bekaa: an artificial mountain made of ancient residence stores...

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...

Bekaa

The Geha House

The restored Geha House is a private residential emblem of Zahle’s local architecture in the old part of town. Its spacious courtyard, animated...

Souk al-Blatt

Souk al-Blatt, or the “tiled market,” used to be a busy but narrow market street leading to one of the oldest parts of the city. Much of Zahle’s...

Yammouneh Nature Reserve

The Yammouneh Nature Reserve lies on an eastern slope between mountains Makmel and Mnaytra. It abounds with water, feeding 84 natural springs, four...

Deir Mar Maroun (St. Maroun Monastery)

Two kilometers (1.2 miles) north of Qamou' al-Hermel towards town, look for the Ain Zarqa Spring, the most vital source of Al-Aassi River. That’s...

Chateau Kefraya

About 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Chtaura lies the second-biggest winery in the Bekaa Valley, Chateau Kefraya. With 300 acres of land...

Anjar

An entire palace-city from the Umayyad dynasty today lies in ruins. The name “Anjar” is a modification of the Arabic “Ain Gerrha,” the name of an...

Stone of the Pregnant Woman

An enormous Roman monolith with many legends behind its name. Some say Hadjar al-Hibla was named after a pregnant woman who convinced the people of...

Bustan al-Khan

Among the monumental buildings at Bustan al-Khan (the Khan's Garden), which is south of the Temple of Jupiter, is a portico with 12 columns, which...

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

Emir Assaf Mosque

Also known as Bab al-Saraya Mosque due to its proximity to the Emir Assaf Serail, the mosque is easily seen from Weygand Street across from the...

Crusader Castle

Built in the 12th century, rumors of the castle's existence had circulated for years, with a French historian having written about a Crusader castle...

Zawiyat Ibn Iraq

Located at the main entrance to the Beirut Souks, the vaulted structure that remains of this mosque was built in 1517 by Mohammed Ibn Iraq ad-...

Abu Bakr Mosque

Dating back to 1294, during the reign of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, Abu Bakr Mosque has been alternatively referred to as the mosque of the sea and the...

The Beirut Hippodromes

The ancient Roman hippodrome of Beirut was discovered in 1988 in the Jewish Quarter, Wadi Abu Jamil, and is considered to have been the grandest of...
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North Lebanon

Argoun Shah Mosque

The mosque of the Emir Arghoun Shah was built several decades before Tripoli fell to the Ottomans. Located in the Saff el-Balat neighborhood, its...

Al-Attar Mosque

Located in the souk area of Tripoli, the 14th century Al-Attar Mosque is one of the largest and most important mosques of Tripoli. Easily...

Our Lady of Nourieh Monastery

At the top of the historic Deir el Nourieh cliffs of Ras Chekka (historically known as Cape Theoprosopon, which protrude into the sea at Hamat, in...

Qasr Naous Roman Temples

Closely ensconced by thick stands of mature trees, the ancient Roman Naous temples are perched on a hilltop at 600 meters above sea level, and even...

Msaylhah Fort

Plainly visible from the highway stretching north from Batroun, Msaylhah Fort sits precariously on a tiny rocky outcrop. This early 17th-century fort...

Phoenician Wall

The ancient Phoenician sea wall was originally a natural structure composed of petrified sand dunes. It was reinforced gradually by the Phoenicians...

Jabal Akroum (Mount Akroum)

Akroum is the name of a mountain in northern Lebanon with many villages on it slopes, one of which is also called Akroum.   This mountainous region...

Tell Arqa

Arqa is a village near Miniara in Akkar District, northeast of Tripoli, near the coast. It is significant for its archeological tell, Tell Arqa,...

Mount Lebanon

Deir al-Qalaa

Deir al-Qalaa crowns the entrance to Beit Mery and overlooks an exquisite view stretching from a snowcapped Mt. Sannine to the coast of Beirut. Its...

Nahr al-Kalb "The Dog's River"

Nahr al-Kalb is a river that springs from a source near Jeita Grotto and runs down to the Mediterranean Sea. Army generals and conquerors of the past...

Faqra

The historic ruins of Faqra lie 1,600 meters above sea level, towering over a deep valley where the waters of Nabaa al-Aasal and Nabaa al-Laban flow...

Machnaqa Roman Altar

A wide, rectangular hall marks off the sacred walls of the Machnaqa sanctuary. At the center of the hall lie the remains of a Roman temple survived...

Afqa

Distinguished for its colossal grotto, Afqa is a rectangular-prism-shaped breach within a 200-meter-high cliffside. From a distance, the cave appears...

Moussa Castle

Just outside Deir al-Qamar and before you get to Beiteddine, you’ll find one solitary castle on the side of the road, perched over the green valley...

Niha Fortress

Part of the Chouf Reserve, Niha Fortress is an eclectic site, and while perfectly safe, not necessarily for the faint of heart. The ancient fortress...

The Midan

The picturesque town of Deir al-Qamar dates back to feudal times. Particularly well-preserved, Deir al-Qamar is known for its cobblestone streets,...

South Lebanon

Temple of Eshmun

The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing and one of the most important divinities of...

The Saida War Cemetery

The Saida War Cemetery was opened in 1943 by units of British forces occupying Lebanon after the 1941 campaign. It was originally used for the burial...

Sea Castle (Qal'at al-Bahr)

Visible from the corniche as one pulls into the center of Saida, the sea castle was built by the Crusaders in the 13th century on top of a Phoenician...

St. Louis Castle

The ruins of this once-impressive castle stand on a mound to the south of Saida. The present structure dates back to the Crusaders, who built on the...

Hammam el-Sheikh and Hammam al-Ward

Saida's public baths, reminiscent of Roman thermal baths, were used for hygiene and served for pleasure and as a social place. If you feel like...

Murex Hill

Murex Hill is an artificial hill about 100m high and 50m long, partially covered by a cemetery. This is Sidon's ancient garbage dump, largely formed...

Khan el-Franj

Just down the street from the souks of Saida, on the corniche, Khan el Franj (“Caravanserai of the French”), was built by Emir Fakhreddine in the...

Ancient Cemetery of Dekerman

South of Saida, the ancient cemetery known as Dekerman was used until this century. It is also an archaeological site, with an extensive collection...