Dar El Wousta: The Inner Courtyard

Click for Slightly Larger ImageThe courtyard of Dar El Wousta: this is the middle section of the Palace. From this point on, the impressive but austere appearance of the outside court and buildings gives way to the delightful architecture and greenery that has given Beiteddine its nickname of Lebanon's Alhambra (or so says Lebanon's Tourism Board). The double staircase in the picture leads to the private quarters of the Hamade Sheiks, rules of the Chouf mountains, who built the inner sections of the palace

Dar El Kataba Facade--home of government buildings (Click for Slightly Larger Image)Dar El Kataba facade: To the right as you enter the courtyard one sees the Dar El Kataba facade, a series of rooms that have held the offices of local government. The other side of the palace leads to the Dar El Harim, or the private apartments. There are two levels. The top level consists of private rooms and the Hamman, or private baths. Following a tradition dating to Roman times, these baths comprise a cold The Hamman or Cold Baths-Click for Slightly Larger Imageroom or frigidarium, used for undressing and for relaxation before and after the bath. (It is pictured to the right) In this reception room one could discuss politics or literature or listen to the latest rumors. The second section of the baths comprise the lukewarm room, or the tepidarium. This was used for massages and served as a transition between the cold and warm sections. The third part comprised the warm rooms or caldarium. The paving stones of the baths were supported by brick pillars and vault with heated air passing underneath.

Byzantine Mosaics-Click for Slightly Larger ImageThe Stable and Mosaic Exhibition: The lower level of the inner courtyard houses the former stables, now a showcase for an extensive collection of Byzantine mosaics. The largest of them come from the ruins of a Byzantine church in the coastal city of Jiyyeh, south of Beirut. the Greek inscriptions appearing on the mosaics date them to the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. Mosaics from other sites are displayed in these stables and the adjacent gardens.

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