Beit ed-Dine

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Beit ed-Dine
بيت الدين
Beiteddine Palace
Beiteddine Palace
Map showing the location of Beit ed-Dine within Lebanon
Map showing the location of Beit ed-Dine within Lebanon
Beit ed-Dine
Location within Lebanon
Coordinates: 33°41′43.97″N 35°34′45.13″E / 33.6955472°N 35.5792028°E / 33.6955472; 35.5792028Coordinates: 33°41′43.97″N 35°34′45.13″E / 33.6955472°N 35.5792028°E / 33.6955472; 35.5792028
Country  Lebanon
Governorate Mount Lebanon Governorate
District Chouf District
 • Total 2.85 km2 (1.10 sq mi)
Elevation 800 m (2,600 ft)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Dialing code +961
Beiteddine is the capital of the Chouf District

Beit ed-Dine (in Arabic بيت الدين, translates to "House of Religion", originally Btaddine, in Arabic بتدين) is a small Lebanese town in the Chouf District, approx. 50 km southeast of Beirut and near the town of Deir el-Qamar from which it is separated by a steep valley. The town is famous for its magnificent Beiteddine Palace which hosts the Beiteddine Festival every summer.

The origin of the name,like the majority of the towns and villages names in Lebanon is Aramean, "Bet Din", has been "arabized" in Beit ed-Din ("bet" in Aramean is "Beit" in Arabic, for house). Down the valley between Beit ed-Din and Deir el-Qamar there is a place still called Bwardin, which translates from Aramean "the uncultivated lands" (Bwar or Bouar) of the goddess Diana. In Hebrew, Beth Din is "The House of Judgement".

Local emir Bashir Shihab II who was later appointed to rule Mount Lebanon, started building the palace in 1788 at the site of the Druze hermitage (hence the town's name, translating as "House of Faith"), indicating that the town was initially Druze before Bashir Chehab II lived in it. It took about 30 years to complete. The best craftsmen from Damascus and Aleppo as well as Italian architects were invited and given much freedom, so its style is a cross between traditional Arab and Italian baroque. In order to keep his palace a one-of-a-kind, Bashir cut off the architects' hands after the palace was built.

After 1840, when Bashir was sent into exile the palace was used by the Ottomans as a government building, during the French Mandate its role was preserved and it served as a local administrative office. In 1934, it was declared a national monument. In 1943, Bechara El Khoury, the first Lebanese president, declared it the official president's summer residence. During the Lebanese civil war it was heavily damaged. After 1984, when fighting in the area receded, Walid Jumblatt ordered its restoration. Parts of the palace are today open to the public while the rest is still the president's summer residence.

Bashir built three more palaces in the town for his sons, till today only Mir Amin Palace survived and is today a luxury hotel.

Beiteddine is home to a Lebanese Red Cross First Aid Center.[1]

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