So I moved to Lebanon in April, 2016. The first weeks felt like vacation, and I wasn’t realizing yet that I had to consider this state as my HOME. And as any classical tourist I wanted to visit the sights, to make new discoveries. Admittedly, my husband didn’t put any pressure on me and didn’t try to convince me that the “vacation” was over. He carefully worked on the routes and new interesting places to see on every weekend.
By the way, here’s the fact about Lebanese youth: even though the country is as tiny as the pea, the majority hasn’t been anywhere apart from nearby towns or beaches. They are completely not interested in history and attractions of their motherland. They go to beaches, camping and parties in summer time or skiing in winter. No one is basically interested in museums or ancient ruins inside the country. In recent years, especially in connection with the successful development of large communities about Lebanon in Instagram,the interest in traveling around the country has greatly increased. However, young people prefer the natural beauty (rivers, mountains, valleys) to the fragments left in Lebanon by multiple civilizations.
But us, Russians, are not like that 🙂 We love old significant ruins, and we practice our love year by year in Egypt and Turkey! But seriously speaking, Europeans are always more interested when it comes to historically important sites than the locals. Therefore, my must-visit list consisted mainly of original symbols of the Lebanese history. The first was the one of its kind Ottoman Beiteddine Palace. This “handsome guy” is the classic version of the eastern palace, just like it was described on the pages of “1001 Nights” book.
Nevertheless, the construction of this Palace doesn’t take us way back in history. It was built in XIX century by Italian architects for Ottoman-approved Emir Bashir II. The Palace has been built within 30 years, and it was worth it! It consists of exquisite arched galleries, fountains, picturesque courtyards, stables, bathrooms and large decorated hammams . The biggest outside yard was open for everyone; all the public celebrations were carried out there. The Palace also represented a wide collection of Byzantine mosaics which were kept inside during the war.
I was totally charmed by the seilings in the Palace, each was such a piece of art! I apologize for the photo quality, it was quite dark and foggy inside that day.
I’m a big fan of “1001 Nights” and of smart queen Sheherazade in particular 🙂 Reading the fairy-tale each time, I used to imagine the beauty of Oriental palaces with rich decorations, large rooms with soft puffs and ottomans. Harem seemed like a separate kingdom of beautiful women in colorful feminine and tempting cloths, trying to satisfy their sultan each night… And even though life in harem wasn’t as romantic and sensual as it seems, but in this case the power of imagination is much stronger that the power of knowledge 🙂
Talking about present days, Emir’s Palace hosts an annual famous Beiteddine festival. The festival was launched during the Civil war in 1980’s and aimed to show the power of Lebanese culture and art opposing the war destructions. Quoting the Beiteddine official website, “It was a call for normality in the middle of the chaos and madness of the civil war”.