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Beirut back then

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altBeirut has been built and rebuilt over the centuries by Canaanites, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs.  In 4000 BC, the Canaanite-Phoenicians settled along the eastern Mediterranean coast and from their ports at Byblos, Sidon and Tyre they established trade with Europe and colonized North Africa. Lebanon came under Roman rule in 64 BC and was later part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. Beirut, as a Roman colony, was named Colonia Julia Augusta Felix Berytus. The original town was located in the valley between the hills of Ashrafieh and Musaytibah. Beirut’s famous law school, which is now almost 300 years old, attracted scholars from throughout the Mediterranean world. It was here that the famous Justian Code was drawn up. Berytus flourished as a Roman city with many beautiful temples, theaters and public buildings, many of which have disappeared over time, destroyed by a series of earthquakes. A few Roman remains survive, one such being the public bath just behind the present day Bank Street.

In the 7th century, Moslem Arabs took over and in the 12th century the coastal plains and mountains came temporarily under the Crusaders. Beirut has been governed by many hands, its fortunes being linked with fluctuations in trade of spices and silks with Europe. In the 16th century, though the region became part of the Ottoman Empire, it was ruled by various local powers. Increase in commerce lead to development of the town. By the middle of the 19th century, Beirut’s population had increased and now expanded beyond the city walls. Missionaries from the West and Arab intellectuals moulded the city and their influence could be seen in education, architecture, etc. The Syrian Protestant University, later called the American University of Beirut, was founded in 1866 by American missionaries.

At the end of World War I, the city was captured by the Allied Forces and then included in the mandate granted to France by the League of Nations. Lebanon achieved independence in 1943 and Beirut became the capital of the state of Greater Lebanon. In 1946, the French withdrew completely leaving behind them a Lebanese society which had absorbed many French elements; their language, their outlook and their architecture, among others. 

A series of civil wars has led to Beirut being destroyed many a times, but this city has risen again and again to re-establish itself as an important commercial center, as well as a leading tourist destination.


Transportation/Getting Around

 A convenient way of getting around the city is by bus. The privately owned red and white buses ...
Taxis are easily available from the international airport. The yellow taxis are expensive.  A ...
From the airport
Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut (RHIAB) is not too far from the city and it operates its ...
Car for Hire
Here is a list of car hire companies you could contact:
Advanced Car Rental (999 884/5; ...
Driving Tips
Driving is the best way to get around Beirut and elsewhere in the country. Car rental is a bit ...