Beiteddine

Overview

Introduction

Beiteddine, Lebanon, is 30 mi/45 km southeast of Beirut. The Palace of Beiteddine is one of the most popular day trips from Beirut, and the drive through the beautiful Chouf Mountains is an added bonus. The palace, completed in the early 1800s, is the product of Italian architects and Levantine artisans. Touring the complex—rooms and buildings connected by terraces and courtyards—can be a bit disorienting, though: You're never quite sure where you have or haven't been. But don't give up until you've seen the baths, the kitchens, the harem, the reception room and the nicely landscaped gardens. There are several museums and exhibitions on-site, including the Ethnographic Museum, the Joumblatt Memorial Exhibit (honoring the late Druze leader) and a nice collection of Byzantine mosaics displayed in the former stables. An international festival (http://www.beiteddine.org) is held at the palace every summer in July or August.

On your way to or from Beiteddine, you can stop in Deir al-Qamar, a scenic town with well-preserved historical buildings. You'll also, no doubt, notice Castle Mousa along the way. It was built by a man with an affection for things medieval. It belongs in a category with Bavaria's Neuschwanstein and Disneyland's castle, but it's even less authentic.

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