Beirut’s Ottoman and French heritage under threat

Beirut’s historical buildings losing character due to modernisation, meaning architectural heritage is under threat

Courtesy of: Save Beirut Heritage
Courtesy of: Save Beirut Heritage

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The capital of Lebanon, Beirut is considered to be over 5,000 years old and thus one of the oldest cities in the world, yet the city’s architectural heritage is not being protected according to civil activists.

Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottomans all lived and built in Beirut, all leaving history behind.

After 15 years of civil war and an Israeli invasion, the city was left extremely damaged.

But for civil activists, the postwar development and reconstruction has in some way been more damaging than the war and invasion.

Activists are campaigning to protect architectural heritage in the city from real estate deals.

They say modern luxury apartment block towers are being built on top of crumbling Ottoman and French mandate-era buildings across the city.

Civil activists have been complaining about the government's lack of concern over preserving Beirut's architectural heritage.

They are accusing the government of choosing to make new real estate deals instead of conserving the remaining historical buildings in the city.

According to a statistic from 2013, 80 percent of the buildings originally listed as historical landmarks after the war ended in 1990, have since been destroyed.

The Save Beirut Heritage and the Association for the Protection of Lebanese Heritage’s are campaigning to preserve what is left of Beirut’s heritage.

The organisations are pushing for a new law to protect the old buildings and want the state to spend more money and time on protecting architectural heritage.