The palace remained the emir’s residence until his forced exile in 1840, when the Ottomans used it as the government residence. It was declared a historic monument in 1934, and then began a restoration process. Since 1943, it has been the summer home of the president. A folkroric museum occupies one wing and in the palace's renovated stables is an exquisite display of mosaics from a ruined Byzantine church and other structures of the same period.
Mir Amine Palace
Just minutes from Beiteddine is a restored palace of the same period that is now one of the most beautiful hotels in Lebanon. Make a quick detour to see the hotel, not forgetting to check out the bottom of the swimming pool which is tiled to look like a Persian carpet. The view from the hotel is breathtaking.
Dar El Baraniyyeh, The outer section of the Palace.
On the approach to the palace a large parking area offers some of the best views of the buildings and grounds. The main entrance leads to a 107x45 meter courtyard, Al-Midan, where horsemen, courtiers and visitors used to meet for various gatherings. From here, too, the Emir would leave with his retinue in solemn procession, either for war or for the hunt. On the ground floor is a museum, inaugurated on May 1, 1991. Through photographs, documents and manuscripts, it tells the life story of Kamal Jumblatt, member of Parliament, cabinet minister and Druze leader.
Beit Eddine History
In the Middle Ages Lebanon was divided up into fiefs governed by emirs or hereditary sheikhs. But in the early years of the 17th century, Emir Fakhr Ed Dine II Maan (d. 1635) succeeded in extending his power throughout these princedoms and eventually ruled an area corresponding to present-day Lebanon.
His first capital was at Baaqline but because of a chronic water shortage, he was forced to move to Deir El Qamar where there were copious springs.
When the Maan dynasty died out at the end of the 17th century, the land was inherited by the emirs of the Chehab family. It was Emir Bechir Chehab II who decided to leave Deir El Qamar and to construct his own palace at Beiteddine (House of faith), a druze hermitage which today is part of the palace.
In 1812, Emir Bechir obliged each of his able-bodied males subjects to provide two days of unpaid labor in order to ensure a plentiful supply of water at his new seat of government. Within two years the project was completed.
The palace remained the emir's residence until his forced exile in 1840. After the Ottomans suppressed the emirate in 1842 the building was used by the Ottoman authorities as the government residence. Later, under the French Mandate following World War I, it was used for local administrative purposes.
The General Directorate of Antiquities carefully restored Beiteddine to its original grandeur after it was declared a historic monument in 1934. Beginning in 1943, the year of Lebanon's independence, the palace became the summer residence of the president. Bechara El Khoury was the first president to use Beiteddine and he brought back the remains of Emir Bechir from Istanbul, where he had died in 1850.
Today Beiteddine, with its museums and its gardens, is one of Lebanon's major tourist attractions. Qualified guides are available for your tour through this monument, which is open daily. A visit to Beiteddine is ideally combined with nearby Dei Al Qamar.
Palace of Emir Amine
A palace was built for each of the emir's three sons, Qassim, Khalil and Amine. The palace of Emir Qassim, now in ruins, is perched on a promontory facing the great Palace. Today Emir Khalil's palace is used as the Serail of Beiteddine, the seat of local administration.
As for the palace of Emir Amine, which dominates the Beiteddine complex, it was beautifully restored and converted into a luxury hotel by the Ministry of Tourism.
Now called the Mir Amine Palace, most of the hotel's 24 rooms open onto private terraces and a hanging garden.
Within walking distance from Mir Amine Palace is the summer residence of the Maronite Archbishop of Sidon, formerly Emir Bechir's country house. Some of the original architectural elements remain, including a beautiful stone doorway covered with a pagoda-shaped roof. This elegant doorway is reached by a high circular staircase easily visible from a distance.