Up in the Chouf Mountains there is the Beiteddine Palace complex which is well worth a visit. Go early if you can ---to avoid the tourists! The courtyard of this 19th century palace is beautiful, the views interesting, the history fascinating. It was built by craftsmen from far and wide for the Emir Bashir. It was apprciated by the French in the 20th century and less-appreciated by the Isaeli military (as I was informed on my visit) in the 1980s. Since then it has seen further restoration and more artefacts have been addded.
After your tour then enjoy the quiet garden.
The ceiling in the frigidarium(?) has lots of holes in the ceiling. These seem to be most odd. However, take your mirror-shades off your face and use them, as a mirror at stomach height, to view the ceiling. See the result? Think Malta!
If I went back to Lebanon I would hope to visit here once again.
open 090:0--18:00 in the summer; 09:00--16:00 in the winter.
This may be a difficult visit for someone with walking difficulties.
Our sole reason for visiting Beit ed Dine was to take a look around the beautifully restored Palace there, which we had heard was well worth a visit.
It was built by the Emir Bashir Shihab II, the Ottoman appointed Governor of what later was known as Mount Lebanon in the early 19th century and is the best example of 19th century Lebanese architecture surviving today. The Palace took 30 years to build and was declared an historic monument in 1943, after which it underwent extensive restoration. It became the summer residence of the President, Bechara el-Khoury, in 1943, the year of Lebanon's independence.
Just off the car park you will find the ticket office which leads into an extensive courtyard. Along the right side of this courtyard is a 2 storey wing, Al Madafa, which was used for receiving guests. On the upper floor today there is an Ethnographic Museum which houses items such as glass, pottery, jewelry and sarcophagi.
The Middle Section of The Palace houses the apartments of the Hamadeh Sheikhs who were responsible for the protection of the Palace and the offices of the Emir's Ministers.
There is also a lovely courtyard with a pretty fountain from which you can see views of the countryside as well as offices and reception rooms for the Emir's staff. These are richly decorated with mosaics and marquetry and filled with traditional furnishings.
Other sections of the Palace include: Private Apartments, The Room of The Column, The Salamlik (or Reception Room), The Lamartine Room, The Mahkamat (Tribunal), Kitchens, Hamman or Bath House, Graves and Stables.
The Beit ed Dine Festival is also held annually at the Palace.
Open 9am-4pm in winter and 9am-6pm in summer. However, we were there in Nov, 2009 and arrived at 3.15pm to be told that they were on the point of closing!! We did get in, but our visit was very rushed indeed, so get there early!!! Closed on Mondays. Entry costs LL7,500 for foreigners, LL5,000 for Lebanese and LL2,000 for students. Children are free. Guides are available for an extra charge. There is a gift shop and cafe also in the courtyard area.
It is one of the top places to visit in Lebanon in my opinion and affords many good photo opportunities.
The Hammam (bathhouse) at the palace of BeitEdDine. This is a beautiful Hammam with very nice marble decoration.
To go to BeitEdDine: Take a bus from Cola station in Beirut to Damour and from there a service taxi.
To get there: I took a minibus from Cola station in Beirut to Damour (750 LL), at the junction there is probably a servis taxis waiting. The service taxi to Beit Ed Dine was 3000 LL. This prices are from June 2002 when I visited Beiteddine.