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coat of arms
coat of arms
State : LebanonLebanon Lebanon
Governorate : Beirut
Coordinates : 33 ° 53 '  N , 35 ° 31'  E Coordinates: 33 ° 53 '  N , 35 ° 31'  E
Area : 100  km²
Residents : 2,332,000 (2017)
Population density : 23,320 inhabitants per km²
Time zone : UTC + 2
Telephone code : (+961) 00961 1
Mayor : Jamal Itani
Website :
Beirut (Lebanon)

Beirut ( ba͜iˈruːt , also ˈba͜iruːt , occasionally beiˈruːt or ˈbeiruːt , Arabic بيروت Bayrūt , in dialect Beyrūt ) is the capital of Lebanon . It is located on the eastern Mediterranean , on the Levant coast , roughly in the middle of its extension in north-south direction.

Beirut is the economic and cultural center of the country with many publishers and universities, including the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ). The city was often referred to as "Paris of the Middle East" before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990).


The exact population of the city is unknown as the last census was conducted in 1932. In 1991 the number was an estimated 1.5 million, for 2012 2,060,363 inhabitants were calculated for Beirut and the surrounding area. The Federal Foreign Office estimated the population in March 2014 at around 1.5 million. In recent years there has been an influx of refugees from Syria. For 2017, the UN estimates the population of the Beirut agglomeration at 2.3 million.

Population development of the agglomeration according to the UN

year population
1950 322,000
1960 561,000
1970 923,000
1980 1,623,000
1990 1,293,000
2000 1,487,000
2010 1,990,000
2017 2,332,000

Beirut is the most denominationally diverse city in the country and the Middle East . In it live Christians ( Maronite , Greek Orthodox , Syrian Orthodox , Syrian Catholic , Armenian Orthodox , Armenian Catholic , Roman Catholic and Protestants ), Muslims ( Sunnis and Shiites ) and Druze . Almost all Jews have left Beirut since 1975. The exact proportion of denominations in the population is unknown because the denomination of the inhabitants was last surveyed in 1932. 50% were Christians (30% Maronites, followed by Greek Orthodox with 16%), 50% Muslims, a third of them Shiites. It is possible that the majority of the population today is Muslim, the majority of whom are Shiites. Mostly Sunnis and Christians live in the north of Beirut . The east of Beirut is mostly inhabited by Christians, the west mostly by Sunnis. The south of Beirut is mostly inhabited by Shiites .


The earliest mention of the city dates back to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. BC Beirut was already an important city-state under the Phoenicians , its ancient Phoenician name was Be'erot (Eng. 'Fountain' (plural)). Derived from this, the Greeks called the city Βηρυτός (Berytós).

After the conquest by the armies of Alexander the Great , Beirut belonged to the Seleucid Empire for a long time . His reign ended in 63 BC. In the course of the conquest of the Levant by the Romans. Pompey made the area to which Beirut belongs as Syria a province of the Roman Empire . During the Roman era, the city, which now bore the name Berytus as a Roman colony , was very important and produced well-known lawyers, including Papinian and Ulpian . The Beirut Law School was influential until the 6th century. Latin was the dominant language of Beirut at least until the late 4th century, probably much longer ; so it stood out culturally from its surrounding area. In 551 an earthquake and a subsequent tidal wave destroyed the wealthy city.

In 635, Beirut was conquered by the Arabs who called it Bayrut . The still badly damaged city was rebuilt and trade began to flourish again. From 1110 to 1291 Beirut was in the hands of the Crusader States . It became important for European trade and had its own vassals within the Principality of Galilee . After being conquered by the Christian armies, Beirut fell to Fulko von Guînes ; In 1166 Amalrich I gave it as a fief to Andronikos Komnenos , the later Byzantine emperor , who, however, had to leave her after he became aware of his love affair with Queen Theodora of Jerusalem . In 1197, Johann I of Ibelin was enfeoffed with the city, which was badly destroyed at the time. After his death (1266) it fell to his daughter Isabella of Beirut . The Crusaders also established a diocese in Beirut and built a cathedral dedicated to John the Baptist , which is now used as a mosque. In 1291 the Kingdom of Jerusalem finally collapsed; this ended the rule of the Crusaders.

Beirut around 1900

After the reconquest of Beirut by the Muslims ( Mamluks ) under Shudjai in 1291, the city was mostly ruled by Druze , even after it fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1516 . In 1888, Beirut became a Vilayet of Syria , which included the sanjaks Latakia , Tripoli , Beirut, Akkon and Bekaa . In 1895 the Lebanon Railway, the Beirut-Damascus railway , opened .

In 1912, Italian forces sank Ottoman ships in the Battle of Beirut .

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War , Beirut fell to France as part of a League of Nations mandate . In 1942 the Haifa – Beirut – Tripoli line opened . After the Second World War , Beirut became the capital of the now independent Republic of Lebanon. Foreign investors were attracted by the Lebanese government's free trade policy, so that Beirut developed into an international financial center . It was considered the Paris of the Middle East .

Holiday Inn hotel in the center of the city center in the early phase of the 1975/76 war during the so-called hotel battle

During the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) the city was destroyed to a considerable extent. The front line ran right through the center and divided Beirut into the Muslim West and the Christian East. In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon; the west of Beirut was besieged and shelled for 10 weeks ( Lebanon campaign ). Israel forced the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to withdraw completely on August 21; this took place under the supervision of a multinational protection force.

US embassy in Beirut destroyed by a bomb attack , April 1983

On September 17, 1983, the US Navy first shelled Syrian positions near Beirut. However, the multinational peacekeeping force left Lebanon in 1983 after 241 US soldiers and 58 French soldiers were killed in two bomb attacks on Hezbollah's multinational headquarters on October 23, 1983 . In 1985, Israel set up a protection zone in the run-up to the Israeli border. 80 people were killed and 256 injured in a car bomb attack on March 8, 1985 against Shiite spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah . The civil war ended in October 1990. Most of Beirut was rebuilt.

Before 1975, downtown Beirut was the center of commerce and entertainment and an interdenominational meeting place. In the mostly denominational districts there was less public life. Downtown Beirut was a meeting place and peaceful coexistence that the city had been a symbol of for decades. In the first weeks of the war, the city center was severely destroyed in grueling street fighting; it fell into derelict over the years and fighting operations and was an impassable no man's land, controlled by militias and snipers. The special topography of Beirut - the city center is located in a hollow - made it possible to observe fights in the city center from other parts of the city.

During the 16 years of civil war there were numerous peace efforts as well as short or longer ceases to fire. The main acts of fighting and thus the most serious destruction took place in the city center and along the demarcation line ("Green Line") that separated West and East Beirut. The districts characterized by one religion separated themselves from the other religions.

The Lebanese writer Raschid al-Daif described the mood of the Beirut population during the war as follows: "... The war then was not a struggle of poor against rich, but of poor and rich against rich and poor. Palestinians fought one another, Syrians fought with Palestinians against Christians, then with Christians against Palestinians, finally the Christians among themselves and against the Druze, all with each other and against each other - who should understand that? [...] In the end we laughed at those who tried to analyze the situation. "

After 16 years of war, the younger residents had no picture of the city center or the other side. Urban areas with no access were 'hidden' and new public spaces - e.g. B. Trading places - created.

The religious segregation (status 2004) persists; some urban areas of Beirut hardly overlap with other parts of the city.

In the attack on Hariri on February 14, 2005 in Beirut, 23 people died, including Hariri.

On 13 July 2006 Israel attacked during the Lebanon war in 2006 the airport to the city. Many Lebanese were killed in this and other air raids; Districts (especially in the south of Beirut), traffic routes and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed.

With terror attacks on November 12, 2015 more than 40 people were killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks .

On August 4, 2020, an explosion occurred in the port of Beirut , in which 2,750 tons of unsecured ammonium nitrate caught fire. It is said to have resulted in an estimated 220 fatalities and 5,000 injured.

Urban development

The predominantly Muslim West Beirut in April 1983

While urban development was limited to a relatively small area until around 1840, under late Ottoman rule an expansion to the areas outside the city walls took place. The initially very loose development increased over time, especially along the major arterial roads to Tripoli in the north, Damascus in the east and Sidon in the south. Two thoroughfares were created within the city walls under late Ottoman rule.

During the mandate, these aisles were built with the implementation of a star-shaped Hausmann street scheme , so that medieval Beirut was almost completely reshaped. The city grew rapidly due to immigration and, in addition to expanding to the south, there was a concentration in the districts close to the center.

The civil war (1975–1990) led not only to the destruction of the buildings but also to extensive processes of displacement, which resulted in increased religious segregation of the city along the "Green Line".

For the reconstruction of the city center, the private reconstruction company Solidere was founded by Rafik Hariri in 1994 . The name Solidere stands for Société libanaise pour le développement et la reconstruction de Beyrouth (Society for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut).

The first thought of reconstruction should be devoted to the broken structure of society: After the end of the conflict, there is above all the need for social normalization. The first steps towards rebuilding are mostly physical in nature. In Beirut, attempts were made to clear up the gaps that had arisen in the cityscape as quickly as possible, at least in terms of urban planning, by cleaning up the war ruins. The first reconstruction plans were already in place during the civil war - within longer periods of peace in 1977 and 1983 - but they had to be abandoned when the fighting resumed. It was not until 1991, after the Tai'if peace agreement, with the support of the multibillionaire and later Prime Minister Hariri, that the then largest office in the Middle East, Dar al-Handasah, was commissioned to carry out initial studies on the reconstruction of Beirut, the results of which were published that same year presented to the public. Despite criticism from intellectuals and numerous property owners in the affected urban areas, the study, which was presented as the final master plan in 1994, hardly changed.

The plans of the so-called Beirut Central District, or BCD for short, were implemented by the corporation Solidere , which has meanwhile changed from a reconstruction to a real estate company and whose main shareholder was the former Prime Minister Hariri. Alongside Solidere, the State Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) was the most important institution in reconstruction. The CDR was established in 1977 after only two years of civil war and, as the executive body of the Planning Ministry, was intended to simplify and ensure rapid reconstruction at all levels.

Before the start of the reconstruction work, the owners of the land within the BCD were quickly expropriated and compensated with shares in the Solidere company. Due to the poor economic situation in post-war Lebanon, most of the compensated former owners or owner associations sold their shares back to Solidere. Refugees who had occupied empty buildings in the city center during the war received different amounts of compensation depending on their negotiating skills, and so gradually cleared the BCD as well. A private company was commissioned to rebuild downtown Beirut. This led to a kind of privatization of the inner city - and triggered numerous protests because parts of the population could not identify with the reconstruction plans for the inner city.

The reconstruction plans cover an area of ​​1.8 million square meters and focus exclusively on downtown Beirut. The destruction along the former demarcation line outside the BCD or individual punctual destruction in the rest of the city are not taken into account in Solidere's reconstruction plans. Solidere based all planning on a master plan. Not least for reasons of prestige, international implementation and ideas competitions were held - and continue to be - for individual projects. Solidere's task from the beginning was to organize and restructure the entire infrastructure of the downtown area. At the same time, Solidere had total decision-making power over what should be built or what could be demolished.

Districts, neighborhoods and suburbs

Beirut is divided into 12 districts ( French quartiers ), each of which is divided into several districts ( French secteurs ). The port of Beirut is a separate district. Well-known districts are Hamra in the west and Gemmayzeh in the east of the city. The center of the city center is also known as the " Beirut Central District " (BCD).


The 12 districts of Beirut



Beirut's suburbs are part of the Mount Lebanon Governorate



The clock tower on Sāhat an-Najma or Place de l'Étoile: one of the landmarks of Beirut

Since many religious currents meet in Beirut and Lebanon, one can find a large number of important sacred buildings . The Mohammed al-Amin Mosque is a Sunni mosque that was newly built in the 2000s . This is in the immediate vicinity of the Maronite St. George's Cathedral , the main church of the Archdiocese of Beirut . Until the inauguration of the Mohammed al-Amin mosque, the al-Omari mosque was the most important mosque in the city center. Before it was rededicated as a mosque, it was St. John's Cathedral. The Amir Assaf Mosque is located next to the al-Omari Mosque. The St. George's Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Church is located about 80 meters north of the Maronite St. George's Church on the eastern side of the Sāhat an-Najma (Place de l'Étoile), the Sternplatz. 200 meters west of the square is the church of Saint Louis des Pères Capucins , the episcopal church of the Latin Apostolic Vicariate of Beirut, built in 1953 . The cathedral of the Armenian Catholics is the church of St. Elias and St. Gregory , whose Cilician patriarchate was moved from Constantinople to Beirut after the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915 . The Arab Protestants use the Église Nationale Évangélique de Beyrouth from 1869 as the main church.

The most famous landmark of the city, the clock tower from Ottoman times, stands on Sāhat an-Nadschma, the Sternplatz . The Lebanese parliament building is also located there . The former Holiday Inn Hotel Beirut , the scene of heavy fighting in the Lebanese Civil War, is a high-rise ruin in the center and a symbol of the war or against it.

Museums and excavations

Exhibits of the archaeological museum under the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George

The Nicolas Sursock Museum was opened in the Aschrafija district in 1961 . An archaeological museum is located directly under the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, where excavations have made finds from the Hellenistic period, the Roman-Byzantine era, the Middle Ages and the period of the Ottoman Empire. The National Museum of Beirut was officially opened in 1942. The Roman bath is a publicly visible excavation of a Roman thermal bath .

Theater and film

In the 1960s and 1970s, the musicals by the brothers Mansour and Assi Rahbani starring Fairuz were performed in the Piccadilly Theater in the Hamra district .

The Beirut Opera House is located on al-Burdsch - Place des Martyrs (Martyrs' Square; also called Kanonenplatz) in the immediate vicinity of the City Hall.

The film Falafel (2006) is Michel Kammoun's first feature film, a socio-political investigation into the way of life in modern Lebanon.

The movie Caramel (2007) by director and leading actress Nadine Labaki is set in a beauty salon in Beirut and shows the everyday life of five women in Lebanon. Caramel has been sold in 50 countries so far. Caramel shows life in Beirut between the orientation towards western ideals and fashion and the old family traditions and religious values.


Beirut is the center for press, radio and publishing in Lebanon. The state broadcasting company Télé Liban has its headquarters here. The well-known daily newspapers include al-Akhbar in Arabic (founded in 2006), the English-language The Daily Star (founded in 1952) and the French-language L'Orient-Le Jour (since 1971 ); to the well-known publishers Dar al-Kotob al-ilmiyah .

Universities, institutes


Beirut is home to several universities. These include:

German-speaking institutions

There are also offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung , Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in the city .


The Beirut airport is located in the south of the city. In the north, near the city center, is the port of Beirut , the country's most important seaport. A tram network existed for public transport from around 1905 to around 1965. Up until the civil war, there was a railway network in Lebanon starting from Beirut with routes u. a. to Syria and temporarily to Palestine (today's Israel). As a result of the civil war, there is no longer any rail transport in all of Lebanon.

sons and daughters of the town

Famous sons of Beirut include the actor Keanu Reeves , the singer Mika , the author Elias Khoury , the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the soccer player Youssef Mohamad .

Town twinning

Climate table

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: Hydrometeorological Center, Russia ;
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Beirut
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 16.4 17.2 19.3 22.4 25.8 29.0 31.3 31.8 30.2 27.2 22.6 18.5 O 24.3
Min. Temperature (° C) 10.5 10.8 12.2 14.7 17.8 20.8 23.0 23.7 22.7 20.4 16.4 12.8 O 17.2
Temperature (° C) 13.2 13.7 15.1 18.0 20.7 23.4 25.7 26.6 25.5 22.7 18.6 15.1 O 19.9
Precipitation ( mm ) 191 133 111 46 15th 2 1 1 2 60 101 164 Σ 827
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 4.8 5.6 6.3 7.5 9.9 12.1 11.9 11.3 9.2 8.2 6.6 4.8 O 8.2
Rainy days ( d ) 15th 12 9 5 2 0 0 0 1 4th 8th 12 Σ 68
Water temperature (° C) 17th 17th 17th 18th 21st 24 27 27 28 25th 22nd 19th O 21.9
Humidity ( % ) 68 68 68 68 71 72 71 70 66 64 63 68 O 68.1
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

See also


  • Angus Gavin, Ramez Maluf: Beirut Reborn: The Restoration and Development of the Central District. Academy Editions, London 1996, ISBN 1-85490-481-7
  • Abe F. March: To Beirut and Back. An American in the Middle East. Publishamerica, Frederick MD 2006, ISBN 1-4241-3853-1
  • Joe Nasr, Eric Verdeil: The reconstructions of Beirut. In: Salma K. Jayyusi, Renata Holod, Attilio Petruccioli, André Raymond (eds.): The City in the Islamic World. (Handbook of Oriental Studies) Volume 2, Brill, Leiden 2008, pp. 1116–1141
  • Robert Saliba: Beirut City Center Recovery: The Foch-Allenby and Etoile Conservation Area. Steidl, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-88243-978-5
  • Heiko Schmid: The reconstruction of the Beirut city center. A contribution to action-oriented political-geographical conflict research. Heidelberg University, Institute of Geography, 2002, ISBN 3-88570-114-6

Web links

Commons : Beirut  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Beirut  travel guide
Wiktionary: Beirut  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Bayrūt. ( Memento of the original from December 29, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. World Gazetteer @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Foreign Office Germany - Lebanon Website of the German Foreign Office, accessed on May 12, 2014
  3. World Urbanization Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved July 23, 2018 .
  4. ^ Hans Gebhardt, Heiko Schmid (Geographical Institute of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg ): Beirut - Destruction and Reconstruction after the Civil War (1998). The reconstruction of Beirut / Lebanon - planning concepts, actors and acceptance in the population (summary of a research project)
  5. IS committed to attacks in Beirut , November 13, 2015. Accessed November 14, 2015.
  6. Beirut explosion causes strong shock waves. BGR , August 6, 2020, accessed on August 7, 2020 .
  7. A devastated city in shock. Retrieved August 5, 2020 .
  8. ^ Beirut Municipality Sector Maps
  9. Life and Works of Assi and Mansour Rahbani (Rahbani Brothers). The Educational Magazine, March 2009 ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 128 kB)
  10. German Embassy Beirut. Retrieved August 13, 2020 .