Just after Deir el Qamar and overlooking a terraced hill appears the palace of Beit Eddine. A delightful example of early 19th Century oriental architecture, the palace was built by Emir Bechir el Chehabi II (1788 -1840) who was for over fifty years not only the most independent and self-willed of sovereigns but whose reign was equally characterised by both justice and prosperity. Under his rule there was a boom in public works; roads were laid down or enlarged while new bridges were built and others repaired. His most spectacular achievement, however, remains the aqueduct of the Safa, a spring whose waters are regularly swollen by the melting snows.
This 14-kilometer aqueduct was designed to ensure a water supply for the new capital, Beit Eddine, and for its construction Emir Bechir drafted his highlanders, each one being obliged to provide two day's unpaid labour.
The resulting eighty thousand working days enabled the project to be completed in two years without putting undue strain on the Treasury.
From the Middle Ages on, the Lebanon was divided up into fiefs governed by Emirs or by hereditary Cheikhs. In the early years of the 17th Century, the Emir Fakhred-Dine II Maan (1572 - 1634) extended his power throughout these princedoms thus coming to rule an area corresponding to the present-day Lebanon. He transferred his capital from Baaqline to Deir El Qamar, but also had his seat of government in Sidon and Beirut, particularly after the Sultan extended his power from the north of Syria to central Palestine.
At the end of the 17th Century, the Maan dynasty died out and their lands were inherited by the Chehab family, Emirs of Waditaim. Following the usual customs which at the time served as the basis for government in the Lebanon, the feudal lords recognised the Chehabs and the Sultan accorded their investiture.
Their palaces were situated around the central square of Deir el Qamar throughout the 18th Century.
At the end of the 18th Century, Emir Youssef found himself in difficulties with the Sultan's representatives, the neighbouring pachas. He preferred to retire, and abdicated in favour of Emir Bechir II since his own children were not yet of age...
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