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The Lighthouses Of Beirut

Al Manara

· Beirut

Introduction

By the beginning of the 19th century, Beirut became a maritime crossroad between east and west, making it one of the most important economic and financial hubs in the region.

To safely guide ships, four consecutive lighthouses were erected in Ras-Beirut, specifically in an area commonly known today as “Al Manara” (Arabic translation of Lighthouse).

Keepers

The four lighthouses have been managed by the Cheblis, a Beiruti family who took it upon itself, from father to son, to beam the lighthouses for the past 150 years.

Lighthouses

1835 – Beirut’s first lighthouse was built in Ras-Beirut, near LAU Kraytem today.

The initial structure measured around 15 meters height, constructed from bricks, and burned kerosene for light.

The lighthouse was later on replaced by a 25 meters concrete structure by the beginning of the 20th century.

The lighthouse was turned off during WWI and WWII for security reasons, and it finally lost its function in the 1950's.

During the 2006 war, the Israelis bombarded the roof of the structure, causing the loss of the old lightning mechanism.

1952 – Beirut’s second lighthouse was built in Al Manara area on top of a hill overlooking the shore, following the incident of the French SS Champollion which sank near Khaldeh, south of Beirut, as it headed to the capital, on December 22nd, 1952. Back then, the ship's captain confused the lighthouse lights with the airport ones.

Consequently, the first lighthouse was shut down.

The structure was constructed from bricks, and measured around 15 meters height.

By the mid 1950's, the lighthouse became useless as buildings were rising around it.

1956 – Beirut's third lighthouse replaced the second one. It measures 25 meters height, and is built from concrete.

It is located behind the German school on Bliss Street and right next to the famous "Pink House".

During the Israeli invasion of 1982, the Cheblis were asked to turn off the lighthouse to prevent the Israelis from using the light to land on the beaches of Beirut. It remained dark until the end of the civil war.

The tower finally turned off its lights when skyscrapers encircled it by the end of the 1990’s.

2003 – Beirut’s forth lighthouse was built in Al Manara area, right on the shores.

Measuring 25 meters, the structure is painted in white and red vertical bands.

It is today guarded by the Lebanese army and it houses a radar and surveillance installations.

Scroll down to enjoy the pictures and to locate the site on the map.

Karim Sokhn

Tour Operator & Tour Guide

References:

https://vimeo.com/236548922

https://www.dailystar.com.lb/Life/Lubnan/2016/Mar-14/342016-guardians-of-the-sea-beiruts-lighthouse-family.ashx

Beirut’s first lighthouse

Beirut’s first lighthouse

Beirut's second lighthouse

Beirut's second and third lighthouses (Notice the short and tall structures)

Beirut's third lighthouse

Beirut's third lighthouse

Beirut's forth lighthouse

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