Lebanon’s picturesque Shouf region offers a stunning glimpse into the country’s rich history. The region was once the royal seat of the emirs of Lebanon, and relics of that time dot the area.
Three of the most popular historical landmarks in the Shouf region are Beiteddine Palace, Moussa Castle and Marie Baz Museum, each of which provides a unique perspective on Lebanon’s archeological and historical past.
1. BEITEDDINE PALACE
One of Lebanon’s grandest and best-preserved treasures is the Beiteddine Palace. Perched on the ledge of a small mountain village, Beiteddine is an impressive and strikingly beautiful palace complex that exemplifies the extravagance of 19th century Ottoman-ruled Lebanon.
Commissioned in 1788 by Emir Bashir, the palace was built to serve as a symbol of his power and glory. After spending an afternoon meandering through its sprawling grounds, complete with multiple salons, bedrooms, gardens and bathhouses, we were thoroughly impressed. The palace’s many cushioned and intricately decorated rooms make it easy to picture old Ottoman rulers smoking pipes, trading secrets, and discussing politics in the dimly lit chambers.
Moussa Castle could be mistaken for something straight out of a children’s fairy tale, with turrets,
battlements, and a moat.
The story of Moussa sheds lights on
the eccentricity of his castle. Born in 1931, Moussa Maamari fell in
love with a beautiful girl in his village. Determined to win her over,
Moussa vowed to dedicate his life to building a castle for his beloved,
using his very own hands. Over the course of the next 60 years, Moussa
erected his dream castle, brick by brick.
is what is inside Moussa Castle that makes it truly unique. Life-like
puppets are scattered throughout the museum, depicting traditional
Middle Eastern scenes. You can see old fashion barbers and bakers,
mothers in traditional garb and children lugging their books to school.
tour of the castle ends in a sunny courtyard, where visitors can pose
for one final picture with the backdrop of the striking Lebanese
mountains behind them.
3. MARIE BAZ MUSEUM
Conveniently situated in Dar el Qamar’s charming main square, the Marie Baz Museum boasts over 80 life-like wax figures of key figures in Lebanese history. The museum is replete with eerily life-like wax figures that tell an interesting narrative of Lebanon’s past and present, and range from the Sultan Salim Khan to Emir Bachir II to U.S. President George Bush.
The detail of the wax statues is startling, down to the ruby rings that decorate the fingers of the emirs to the jeweled turban of the ancient Sultan. More than once, we had the unnerving sensation of being watched by the life-like figures throughout the halls. The Marie Baz Museum not only conveys the story of the past, but brings Lebanon’s bygone era to life before your very eyes.