Beirut is the Capital of Lebanon and its largest city. It is located on a cape almost in the middle of Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast on a peninsula that was once divided into two islands by the River of Beirut, that have silted over time.
It is a vibrant city with many historic and contemporary attractions. It is said that from its harbour the first Umayyad caliph, Muawiya, launched his campaign against Cyprus in the 7th century. Beirut was a major center in many of the cultures that succeeded in ruling the eastern Mediterranean. Beirut became a prominent Roman city. That is attested by the extensive Roman remains in the city which include a hippodrome, basilicas, baths, and the Cardo Maximus, in addition to many historical documents. During this period, the city was the Chair of the renowned Beryte Law School. Many of the archaeological findings are located in the National Museum.
The city was destroyed by a tidal wave and a major earthquake in 551 AD. In 635 A.D. Beirut fell to the Umayyads, and it remained under the rule of Islamic dynasties until 1110. In 1291, the Mamluks included the city in their empire. Like the rest of Lebanon it fell to the Ottoman in 1516, and only in 1918, the French ended the Ottoman dominance. Due to its commercial port, the growing economic role of Beirut on the Lebanese coast enabled it to become the capital of the newly formed country in 1922.
The urban history of the city so started in the late Ottoman Empire with the modernization policy that created several monumental buildings and public squares. This continued into the French mandate period and after the independence in 1943. The city center, which was severely damaged in the civil war in 1975, was restored in late 1990s. It is now a hub for commercial and entertainment outlets in addition to governmental buildings along with historic churches and mosques.