The Lebanese Heritage Museum is the prime repository of artifacts and national treasures that reflect the heritage and culture of the Lebanese people. It is located in the city of Jounieh about 16 km from Beirut, the capital city.
The Lebanese Heritage Museum is the proud home of original pieces of history and authentic documents, photos and artifacts that represent the glorious past of the country. Although the world remembers Lebanon’s most recent history, particularly the civil war from 1975 to 1990, Lebanon and its culture go much further and more glorious than that.
The museum is divided into five halls representing five historical eras beginning from prehistory. The first hall is called Witness through the Ages, which represents the Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras.
Evidence reveals that the early settlers came to the ancient Lebanese city of Byblos sometime in 7000 BC. Byblos still exists today and is considered as one of the oldest continuing cities in the world.
In 3000 BC, the Phoenicians came and occupied the country for several centuries until about 539 BC. They were seafaring people and roamed the Mediterranean Sea to establish trade with other nations. The Greeks referred to Lebanon as Phoenicia.
Soon the Persians and Romans arrived and took control of the land. Lebanon became a part of the Roman Empire in 63 BC and became a constituent of Judea, a Roman province. In the 1st century, Christianity was introduced in Lebanon and in the 4th century, it became a part of the Christian Byzantium, which marked the Byzantine era.
The second hall of Lebanon’s heritage museum reflects the Islamic era that began in 631 AD. In the 19th century, the Ottoman Turks arrived and besieged the country. This marks another era in the history of Lebanon, and this era is reflected in the museum’s third hall. This was a tumultuous time in history as the Ottomans, Maans, Shihabs, and Emir Bashir II came and conquered.
The country finally experienced peace and prosperity when the Muslims, Druze and Maronite Christians finally decided to focus on developing the culture and economy of their country. The American University of Beirut was established and national literature, politics and economy flourished.
After World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and France took control of the five provinces that make up modern-day Lebanon. In 1926, the Lebanese Constitution was written.
The fourth hall in the museum is dedicated to Youssef Bey Karam, hero of the Independence of Lebanon and considered as a beloved martyr that stood for the freedom of his people. In 1860, the Ottomans appointed him as “kaymakan” or political administrator. But since he stood for independence, he was exiled and was made to spend the last years of his life away from his beloved country.
Finally, the museum’s fifth hall represents contemporary Lebanon in the 20th century.