History in Beirut

Edit This

Beirut history, which dates back to the 14th century B.C., is rich and varied.

Early History of Beirut

The early history of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, has to do with the following ruins: Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman. The ancient Phoenician city, called Berytus, was destroyed in 140 B.C. and rebuilt on a more regular Hellenistic plan. The city became part of the Roman Empire, with the erection of large public buildings and monuments, and flourished with the expansion of the silk trade.  Then a disastrous earthquake struck the city in 551, killing a vast number of citizens.

In 635, Beirut fell to Muslim Arab conquerors, who ruled until the Crusaders took over from 1110-1291. Muslim Mamluks ruled the city next, from 1291 to 1516, until they were ousted by the Ottoman Army in 1516. Beirut remained autonomous and prospered during this period of Ottoman rule, as long as taxes were paid to the sultan.

Recent History of Beirut

The 19th century was a period of mixed fortunes for the city of Beirut. An alliance with Mohammed Ali of Egypt threatened the Ottoman Empire and the balance of power with Europe. In 1840 the city was bombarded and recaptured for the Ottomans. In 1840, the population of Beirut was 45,000, but the booming silk trade and the influx of Maronites fleeing massacre caused the population to double by 1860. In 1866, the American University of Beirut (one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East) was founded.

During World War I, a blockade by the Allies ended Turkish control in 1918. Lebanon was placed under a French mandate in 1920 by the League of Nations. Beirut served as a major supply center for the Allies during World War II. The French left Beirut in 1946. After the end of the first civil war in 1958, Beirut became one of the main commercial and banking centers of the Middle East.

But the period of prosperity ended in 1975, when a second civil war transformed Beirut into a bloody, anarchistic mess. The civil war ended in 1991, which allowed rebuilding and recovery until the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah offensive, which did little damage to the city center, but devastated the southern suburbs.

Where World66 helps you find the best deals on Beirut Hotels