The Cultures of Beirut

beirut cultureOver the last several years Beirut has been known to have gone through many cultural changes. This has been due in part because of Beirut’s longstanding history with a variety of civilizations. In many parts of Beirut culture, there are still roots that primarily come from the ancient people of the city who were considered to be the city’s first settlers.

In fact, in many instances, Roman influence has been found throughout the city.

Despite the Roman influence, Beirut continues to be most commonly known for being the first law school in the world. Anytime you encounter a Lebanese person from Beirut they are guaranteed to boast about this local law school which continues to be a very prominent landmark in their society.

Today in modern day Beirut, it is a city that shows just how diverse the people and religions of Lebanon are. Many of the citizens in Beirut are both Muslim and Christian and in many parts of the cities, you will be surprised to find many churches and mosques literally side by side. Additionally, many churches and mosques are so in sync with one another that if you are standing outside of the church or mosque when their bells ring you will hear both locations ringing bells in unison.

Throughout history, Ottoman Turks have also impacted the region of Beirut but it did not stop the from the French making their impact on the country. Currently, the two most common languages spoken in the country are both French and English and quite a few people also speak Arabic. Because of these many people in Beirut are trilingual(meaning they speak three languages fluently).

Despite its rich culture, over the last several years Beirut has still struggled to reach a higher status within the world. This could be in part due to the fact that the city has been destroyed and then rebuilt at least seven times if not more over the last 5,000 years thanks to wars, earthquakes and a host of other natural disasters.

Many philosophers believe that the reason why Beirut has been able to withstand so many hard situations is because they have a strong will to survive because many other countries have allowed destruction to tear them down. Beirut has amazingly done the complete opposite, they’ve used destruction to keep propelling them forward in amazing ways.
Despite all of the natural disasters that have occurred, the natural beauty of Beirut has continued to bring in thousands of tourists every year. It’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and also the Lebanon Mountain’s have made it that much easier for people to be able to enjoy a variety of activities when traveling to Beirut including the beach and even perhaps a random ski trip.

Beirut literally has something for everybody whether you are touring or looking for a place to simply study and expand your horizons. Beirut is sure to give you everything you need and is guaranteed to have you wanting to return for more.

The History of Beirut

beirut historyIf you ask any historian who knows anything vaguely about Beirut you will find that many believe that Beirut’s history began and ended with a bloody civil war. This historic war that occurred along the Green Line with Muslims to the west and Christians to the east.

In fact, the earliest recollection of Beirut Stretches far and wide to as far as the Stone Age. During this time the city was actually two islands located in the delta of the Beirut River. Eventually, the river, however, became one land mass.

According to philosopher’s the name Beirut is actually derived from the Arabic derivative of the words “well” or “spring”. The first known reference of Beirut dates from as far back as the 14th Century BC during the reign of both Canaanite King of Beirut and Amenhotep IV.

As time progressed, specifically during the Phoenician times, Beirut was often overshadowed by Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos; however, once Alexander the Great’s conquest begins in history we begin to see more and more instances of Beirut being mentioned.

Once the 3rd Century AD, arrived, the city had gained much-needed notoriety through its School of Law because it was one of the top Roman centers of the jurisprudence. During modern days this center was the primary location of the Justinian Code, which according to philosophers was where the legal system drew inspiration from. As time progressed Beirut gained more attention as it continued to grow into a trading hub and primary place of learning.

The Downfall of Beirut

In 551, a devastating earthquake combined with a tidal wave practically destroyed the city. The destruction was so dramatic that many of the city’s citizens were killed on impact. In an attempt to save it’s most prized possession, the city quickly evacuated the School of Law and later relocated to Sidon. This heartbreaking tragedy is ultimately what led to the decline of the country that lasted for several centuries.

Over the last several years Beirut has been plagued with tragedy after tragedy. These tragedies in many ways have ultimately been responsible for Beirut’s constant struggle to not only thrive as a city but to gain relevancy throughout the world.

As of recent years, an even more dark shadow has been cast over the city’s history. IN 2006, The offensive Israel-Hezbollah struck the city. Although, there was not much damage done to Beirut’s center the impact was felt in many of the suburbs and the wealthiest people of Beirut had to be evacuated due to substantial damages. For many people living in Beirut, it is often felt that economic upturn is nearly impossible because any time things seem to be moving progressively another “storm” arrives and knocks the people of Beirut off of their feet. In addition to the physical damage, the economic downturn combined with the numerous killings and attacks that have occurred throughout the city have led many to believe that while Beirut’ past is full of heartbreaking tragedies, the worst may still be yet to come.