Beirut was built on the largest rocky promontory of the coast at the near center of the country. Later it would become capital of the modern nation, but in ancient times its deep harbor and central location were not so apparent and the city was overshadowed by more powerful neighbors. Its earliest name was "Birot", a Semitic word meaning "well", or source. When the city-states of Sidon and Tyre began to decline in the first millennium B.C., Berytus, as it was then called, acquired more influence, but it was not until Roman times that it became an important port and cultural center with its famed Roman Law School. After Roman power waned, Greek influence dominated in the Byzantine period beginning in the 4th century A.D. Later, the Crusaders held the city for some 200 years. It was only at the end of the 19th century, after 400 years of Ottoman rule, that Beirut began to develop and modernize. Modern Beirut, which has well over a million inhabitants, remains the cultural and commercial center of the country. Although the city center was left in ruins by the war, business was taken to other parts of Beirut and commerce continued as usual. In the 1990's, however, plans were made to reconstruct and develop this war-ruined area. Over a period of 25 years the project will turn Beirut into a city that is modern yet retains its familiar eastern flavor. Such landmarks as Martyrs' Square, the Parliament Building, the Serail and the traditional souks are all part of the new design that covers 1.6 million square meters. Extensive archaeological investigations into the city's past are also being carried out under the general redevelopment plan.

Beirut before the War

View from sky I

Rouche I


Emir Mansour Mosque

St. George

General view I

General view II

Hotels I

Hotels II

Hotels III

Martyrs Monument I

Martyrs Monument Square

Museum Square I

Rivoli Square

General view III

Statue of Riad Solh

Beirut with Mount Sannine

View from sky II

Hotels IV

Museum Square II

Holiday Inn

War and Destruction

Omar Mosque I

Omar Mosque II

Rouche II

Rouche III

Destructed House

Beirut Square

Orth. Church I

Orth. Church II


Holiday Inn

Burj al Murr

Martyrs Monument II
Beirut after the War

Sports City I

Sports City II

More Information about Beirut

Beirut Central District, Development and Reconstruction

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1997-2001 by Ayman Ghazi
Last changes: September 24, 1997