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Pass By: Downtown Beirut, Majidiyeh, Beirut, Lebanon
During 15 years Lebanon has witnessed civil war (1975-1990), resulting in an estimated 120,000 fatalities and destroyed main landmarks in the country and Beirut in specific. The war has demolished Lebanon and changed a lot the way it looks. The downtown area has witnessed major distortion, leaving nowadays the capital city with civil war remaining buildings and monuments.
Pass By: Martyr's Square, Beirut Lebanon
Lebanon has had a rocky political history. From colonialism to civil war and occupation, this small country has experienced a lot of strife for its size. Martyrs’ Square is one of the most iconic places in Beirut. Named in 1931, it was set up as a tribute to martyrs executed by the Ottoman rule. The martyrs were protesting to end the Ottoman rule over Lebanon in favour of Arab Nationalist movements. Originally, it was an open space beyond the Ottoman city’s walls and was named ‘Sahat Al Burj’ – or ‘Tower Square’ – because it was marked by ‘Burj Al Kashef’. Under the French mandate, however, it became a modernized meeting place with kiosks and souks.
In 1930, a sculpture of a Muslim and Christian woman holding hands over a coffin adorned the square. The scene was designed by local artist Youssef Hoyek as a testament to the locals coming together at a time of strife. The initial statue was changed, as in 1956, the foundations for the stone’s current monument in Martyrs’ Square were erected, but the actual monument as is today was not inaugurated until 1960. The structure was designed by Italian artist, Marino Mazzacurati.
During the Civil War, the square was used as a point that divided the city into East and West Beirut to indicate opposing sects. Subsequently, the spot was completely destroyed as buildings and statues fell to ruin under the rain of bullets and bombings. Like a lot of Beirut, not much survived in the wake of its 15-year war.
Later, it was renovated by a local university, as part of what is now Downtown Beirut. However, the bullet scarring was kept as a purposeful show of the monument’s history. The square once again became a popular site for political activity and protest as people come together year after year to remember the late politician. Today, they come together to have their voice heard.
Pass By: Place de l'Etoile, Beirut Lebanon
Nejme Square, or Place de l'Étoile, is the central square in the Downtown area. It is home to the Lebanese Parliament and its complementary buildings, two cathedrals, a museum, and several cafes and restaurants. Most notable for its Art Deco architecture, the square has become a recognizable icon of Beirut City worldwide. The jewel of the square is a 1930s clock-tower with its four-faced Rolex clock. The clock tower was a gift from Lebanese-Mexican émigré Michel Abed. Today, the square is filled with tourists and locals who come here to dine, walk or enjoy the street life. The square is also known for its noticeable population of pigeons.
Pass By: Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, Beirut Lebanon
The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Georges, completed in 1772, is located directly on Nejme Square and is the oldest orthodox church in Beirut. Its location is believed to be directly adjacent to the site of the renowned Roman Law School of Beirut. The church underwent several restorations in its history due to natural disasters, erosion, and intentional destruction. During the Lebanese Civil War, the church was burned and destroyed with most of its belongings stolen. The Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of Beirut began its renovation on October 16, 1995. The excavation at the site led to the discovery of the remains of three other churches and part of the Roman colonnades. These artefacts were incorporated into an underground museum directly located below the cathedral.