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DeirElQamar (Historical Town)

The Midane Square and its Surroundings. (1983)
The Midane Square and its
Surroundings. (Photo.1983)

DeirElQamar is unique in Lebanon, a town restored and maintained in a style many centuries old. DeirElQamar not only preserves its grand feudal architecture, but its old stepped streets, walled gardens and picturesque corners as well.

Shortly after Emir Fakhreddine II came to power in 1590, a chronic water shortage in Baaqline forced him to move his capital to DeirElQamar. There he ruled until his death in 1635. The town remained the residence of the governors of Lebanon until the 18th century, when Emir Bechir II Chehab moved the capital to Beiteddine.

Dany Chamoun Square formerly known as Midane
Dany Chamoun Square
formerly known as Midane

The Huge public square or midane, which was originally used for jousts and other equestrian contests, is surrounded by historic buildings. The large water fountain was added in the 19th century.

The Water Fountain. (1983)
The Water Fountain. Added
in the 19th Century. (Photo.1983)

In the square itself is Fakhreddine Ist Mosque, constructed in 1493 and restored in the 16th century by Emir Fakhreddine Ist Maan for his Muslim mercenary soldiers. Behind the mosque is a 19th century Leather-workers' Souk or market, which today houses modern shops.

Beyond the souk is the Palace of Emir Younes Maan. Emir Younes, the brother of Emir Fakhreddine II, was army commander during Fakhreddine's voluntary exile to Italy in 1613. Later, Emir Youssef Chehab (1770 - 1789) demolished the third story and used the stones to build his own residence, now the Seraglio or the Municipality Palace.

DeirElQamar General View. West Side. (1983)
DeirElQamar General View.
West Side. (Photo.1983)

The Silk Khan or Ka´sariyyeh, located north of the Emir Youssef Chehab Seraglio, was built in 1595 during the reign of Fakhreddine II. It was designed in the classical khan or caravansary style, and originally used as a public market place for jewelry and for silk. Today the khan makes a unique setting for cultural activities.

The Kharj Barracks is a massive structure built by Fakhreddine II in 1616 as a munitions warehouse and barracks. It was remodeled under Bechir III Chehab (1840 - 1842) and became a food storehouse, mainly for soldiers. Now restored, this monument is the stunning setting of the French Cultural Center.

DeirElQamar General View. West Side. (1983)
DeirElQamar General View.
West Side. (Photo.1983)

Nearby is the synagogue, which was built in the 17th century to serve the local Jewish population, some of whom were part of the immediate entourage of Emir Fakhreddine II.

The Palace of Emir Ahmed Chehab (Gergis Baz), located east of the midane, was built by the Emir for his wife in 1755. After Emir Ahmed's death, his widow sold it to Gergis Baz, an important political figure of the time.

The Midane Square and its Surroundings. (1983)
The Midane Square and its
Surroundings. (Photo.1983)

The architecture of this two-story structure is the khan type, featuring a central courtyard and basin. Around the courtyard are bedrooms, apartments and baths. The impressive portal is made of alternating stones of different colors.

The Seraglio of Emir Fakhreddine II Maan (now the Emile Baz Palace) located behind the souks, was built with a central courtyard that opens onto room, apartments and kitchens. The palace is also the site of the Marie Baz Wax Museum featuring effigies of men and women who played a part in Lebanon's history.

The Emir Fakhreddine II Maan
The Emir Fakhreddine II Maan
1590 - 1635

Behind the Emile Baz Palace, is the Residence of Nicolas El Turq (1763 - 1828) court poet of Emir Bechir II. Built in 1805 in the khan style, it was restored in 1955 - 1962. A gallery of three arcades links the two sections of the building and on the south fašade are three arched windows.

The Hall of the Column gets its name from the massive column in its center although the vaulted construction is also supported by a number of pillars. A part of the palace of Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it later served as a residence of Emir Bechir II Chehab.

The Midane Square and its Surroundings. (1983)
The Midane Square and its
Surroundings. (Photo.1983)

The Seraglio of Emir Youssef Chehab, which today houses the town's mayoral offices, was built for Emir Fakhreddine Ist. Later enlarged by Emir Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it was then occupied by Emir Yousef Chehab. Finally, Emir Bechir II Chehab stayed there before the palace at Beiteddine was completed. The entrance is through a magnificent door decorated with two lions, symbol of the Chehab dynasty.

Bechir II - CHEHAB
Emir Bechir II Chehab
1789 - 1840

Two other sited are a short distance from the midane. The Mausoleum El Kobbeh is the resting place of Emir Ahmad Maan (1662 - 1697) and Haidar Chehab (1706 - 1732). Sa´det El Talle, or the church of our Lady of the Hill, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, although the structure we see today dates to Bechir II Chehab. The church has an old door decorated with half-moon under a cross - a reference to the name "DeirElQamar" (Monastery of the Moon). On the first Sunday of August the Feast of the virgin is celebrated here.


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1120 Arrival of the Maan in Lebanon.
1300 Arrival of the Chehab in Wadi el Taym.
1516 to 1918 Syria and Mount Lebanon under Ottoman rule.

DeirElQamar becomes the capital of Mount-Lebanon

Two dynasties of Emirs rule Lebanon

The Maan (Druzes): 6 Emirs including Fakhreddine II

The Chehab (Sunnites then Maronites): 8 Emirs including Bechir II
1697 End of the Maan dynasty and succession of the Emirs Chehab.
1842 End of the dynasty of the Emirs Chehab.
1842 to 1861 Rule of the two ka´makamats - 1 druze et 1 maronite.
1860 Massacre of 2.000 Christians in DeirElQamar.
1861 to 1914 Government of the moutassarifats.
1864 The first Municipal Council in the history of Lebanon is set up in DeirElQamar.
1914 to 1918 World War One.
1920 Beirut becomes the Capital of Lebanon.
1999 The first Municipal Youth Council in the history of Lebanon is set up in DeirElQamar.


DeirElQamar General View
DeirElQamar General View


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