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Beirut - Lebanon Highlights:
City, Byblos, Beit Eddine, Baalbeck
Beirut or Bayrūt (ancient Beyrtus) is capital and largest city of Lebanon, located on the the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Once a famous port and as recently as the 1970s a banking and cultural centre for the Middle East, Beirut was devastated by civil war and successive Syrian and Israeli occupation between 1975 and 1991. Currently the city is in the process of reconstruction, though it has a long way to go to recapture its past glories. Traditional Beirut exists on a peninsula which projects slightly west into the Mediterranean, and is contained by the Lebanon Mountains that rise to the east.

From Beirut you can visit Byblos, Beit Eddine and Baalbeck. Byblos is a medieval town with a moated castle and 12th century crusader church, but it claims a 7000 year old history as a papyrus scroll exporter and giving the world the concept of books and a name for the Bible. Baalbeck (Heliopolis) contains Greek temples, a monumental gateway, colonnaded porticoes and Corinthian columns.

Beirut is mentioned as far back as the 15th century BC, its name appearing in the Tel al-Amarna tablets. Prominence came when it was given the status of a colony of Rome in the year 14 BC. The Roman city was destroyed by a succession of natural disasters, culminating in the year 551 AD. The Arab invaders found little to suggest earlier development when they occupied the city in 635. King Baldwin I conquered the city from the Fatimids in 1110 during the First Crusade. Though nominally under the authority of the Ottoman Empire after 1516, the city was ruled by a variety of local powers. At the conclusion of World War I Lebanon was stripped from the Ottoman Empire, and the French were granted a Mandate by the League of Nations. Their rule in Lebanon lasted until 1943, and it was during this period that the city absorbed many of its European elements.

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