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The Magnificent Portal of Gergis Baz Palace
The Magnificent Portal
of Gergis Baz Palace


The Emir Ahmed Chehab palace or the Gergis Baz palace, was built by the Emir Ahmed Chehab on the request of his wife Al-Khansa, daughter of the Emir Fares Abillamah, better known as “Oum Dabbous” (meaning “wearer of the pin”) because she always wore a pin adorned with an imposing gem in her hair.

Refusing to continue living in her first home in the village of Baakline where she had lost her two sons, and from where she had also plotted to assassinate her brother-in-law, Emir Melhem Chehab, son of the Governor of Lebanon, Emir Haïdar Chehab. To put an end to this drama, her husband finally conceded and accepted to build her this palace in 1755 as can be seen on the inscription over the second door on the northern side.

In 1770, the Emir Ahmed who had retired in 1763, died in this palace. His son Haïdar later became one of the most respected historians of his time and was the author of the precious chronicles, still an invaluable source of information for many of today’s historians.


Gergis Baz Palace
Gergis Baz Palace


This palace was inhabited successively by Ibrahim Pasha el Masri (1784), then for a while in place of Emir Bechir by the Emir Abbas Assaad Chehab then Governor.

In 1800, the widow of Emir Ahmed "Oum Dabbous" sold it to Gergis Baz protector and teacher of Emir Youssef Chehab’s children. He was also Minister in the latter’s government, and later became the arch enemy of Emir Bechir II Chehab and is believed to have been assassinated by him.

The imposing architecture of this palace, built to resemble a two-storey khan on one side, gives onto an open central courtyard on the other. The magnificent portico of the main entrance opens onto a small waiting room with two benches (one of which is “L”-shaped), where visitors would remain while waiting to be received. From here a small door opens onto a vast sixteen meter-wide rectangular courtyard with a richly decorated water fountain whose designs are encrusted with a variety of colored stone and marble, and surrounded on three sides by large reception rooms.

You will notice in one of these rooms a clever system which allows water to run down the arcade sculptured with stalactites thus cooling the room. A similar example can be found in Beiteddine palace.


The Baths of Gergis Baz Palace
The Baths
of Gergis Baz Palace


On the building plan you will also notice that the room at the north-west angle, accessible from the outside only, together with the door at the south-western angle of the courtyard, show an interesting architectural example because it allows the use of an independent angle room. The entrance to this room features a highly unusual detail where the horizontal beam over the door is intricately carved to form a double vault. This feature is extremely rare and probably unique in Lebanon.


The Fabulous Corner Door of Gergis Baz Palace
The Fabulous Corner Door
of Gergis Baz Palace


To the north on the upper floor is a “liwan” or outside seating area, giving out onto a series of arches under which a dovecote was installed, because in those days carrier pigeons were frequently used to carry messages.

To the west, a steeply inclined stairway leads to a gallery and a restored sculpted kiosk, which was perhaps used as a place of worship. The view from here is also particularly good overlooking the “Midane” and “Saraya”.

Looking back down to the courtyard one realizes that on the north-western side of the building are two domes encrusted with glass cup-like protrusions which served to direct light and heat to the “hammams” below.


The Hammams (Baths) of Gergis Baz Palace. (1983)
The Hammams (Baths) of
Gergis Baz Palace. (Photo.1983)


This palace, in dire need of repair and restoration, is only occupied in summer. However, despite its poor state of repair, one cannot help but notice and admire the beauty and originality of its design.


North - East of Dany Chamoun Square
DeirElQamar General View.
North - East of Dany Chamoun Square.

 

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