Lebanese Architecture

Lebanese architecture has one of the longest histories in the world, dating over 7,000 years, to the Phoenician period.  The Phoenicians were a seafaring people, based in Lebanon.  Due to their advanced construction techniques, they were able to build boats that allowed them to trade throughout the Mediterranean.  They also developed ingenious architectural techniques that are still evident in Lebanon today.

In fact, there are a variety of styles of architecture in Lebanon, resulting from the many different types of people who have resided there throughout history.  The beautiful old mansions in Beirut are my favorite.  They feature traditional Lebanese elements and borrow from Ottoman, Damascene, and Venetian styles.  These houses are characterized by mandaluns, or  triple arcade windows, a style brought to Lebanon from Italy in the 17th century.

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Many of them also have musharrabiehs, windows that allowed inhabitants (usually women) to view people outside without being noticed themselves.  One of my favorite activities in Beirut was to walk around the city, going a different route each time, to discover and admire hidden architectural gems.

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If you want to learn more about Lebanese houses or a variety of other aspects of Lebanese culture, I highly recommend these books: Lebanese Heritage Books.  They are created by a mother-daughter team, and published in 3 languages (English, French, Arabic).  I had the pleasure of meeting them at the farmer’s market in downtown Beirut.  They are really nice people and their books are awesome (I have 3 of them).

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