Martyrs' Square, Beirut

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Martyrs' Square in 1982, during the Lebanese Civil War.

Coordinates: 33°53′46.86″N 35°30′25.31″E / 33.8963500°N 35.5070306°E / 33.8963500; 35.5070306

The "Old Opera House" on Martyrs' Square

Martyrs' Square (Arabic: ساحة الشهداءSahet el Shouhada, French: Place des Martyrs) is a square in the heart of downtown Beirut, Lebanon, next to the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque.

Its central statue commemorates Lebanese nationalists who were hanged during World War I by the Ottomans.[1]

History[edit]

In the 19th century, the square was known as Place des Canons. During World War I, Lebanon was under Ottoman rule. In 1915, Lebanon suffered from a food shortage due to Ottoman Turks confiscating food from the local population, swarms of locust invading the country, and western blockade by the Allies, intended to starve the Turks out.[citation needed] The effect was a famine, followed by plague, which killed more than a quarter of the population, mainly Christian Maronites from Mount Lebanon.[citation needed] A revolt against the Turks broke out which resulted in hanging of many intellectuals and nationalists on 6 May 1916 in the renamed Martyrs' Square. Among them were Said akl, note the difference between the martyr and the modern day poet, Father Joseph Hayek, Abdul Karim al-Khalil, Abed al-Wahab al-Inglizi, Joseph Bishara Hani, Mohammad and Mahmoud Mahmassani, Omar Hamad, Philip and Farid el-Khazen, and Sheikh Ahmad Tabbara.[citation needed]

Present day[edit]

Some remains of the old Cinema Opera building (now a Virgin Megastore) and the bronze Martyrs statue are the only features left of the Martyrs' Square. The statue, which was inaugurated on March 6, 1960, is the work of Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati.[2] The statue, riddled with bullet holes, has become a symbol for all that was destroyed during the Lebanese Civil War.

The Martyrs' Square is a common location for protests and demonstrations, among the more notable demonstrations were the 2005 anti-Syrian protests of the Cedar Revolution and 2007 anti-government opposition protests led by Hezbollah and The Free Patriotic Movement.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alabaster, Olivia. "Martyrs’ Square: a true public space?". The Daily Star. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Mattiti, F.: Mazzacurati, Renato Marino, Italian Biographical Dictionary. URL retrieved 2011-08-23.