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Tuesday,17 May, 2022
Beit El Din Palace
It rises in the heart of Chouf, as the most eminent archaeological heritage from the XIXth century’s architectural Renaissance in Mount Lebanon, and a proof of the continuity of the national governance from the Emirate era up to the Republic era.
In 1806, after having consolidated his rule, Emir Bachir Shehabi II (1788 – 1840) boosted his status by pomp and extravagance. Indeed, he built a palace on the Beiteddine hill, near Deir El Kamar (750m above sea level), and soon moved therein the headquarters of the governance. Till the date, the Palace and the canal which was built between 1812 and 1815 to draw the water from the Safa River, still speak up of the Emir’s activities in the construction field.
The Beiteddine Palace remained the headquarters of the Emirate till 1840, the year during which Emir Bachir II was exiled to Malta, then to Istanbul where he died in 1850. After the abolition of the Emirate and the establishment of the Kaemmakamiyat system in 1842, then the Moutasarrifiyat following the incidents of 1860, the Armenian Moutassaref Daoud Pasha purchased the Beiteddine Palace for the Lebanese government from the Shehabs, and turned it into the summer residence of the Moutassarefs who successively took office between 1864 and 1915.
Under the French mandate (1920 – 1943), and after the declaration of the Republic of Lebanon in 1926, large-scale restoration works kicked off at the Palace to recover its original splendor.
In 1934, the Palace was labelled a “historical building” and was listed in the general inventory of historical and archeological buildings.
At the onset of the Independence era in 1943, the Palace became the official summer headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic. The first President who stayed in it was the Independence President Sheikh Bechara Khalil El Khoury who also supervised the restoration of the Palace (Salamlek and Haramlek), paved its yards and the roads leading to it.
Thanks to the determination and support of President El Khoury, the Lebanese government made some endeavors with the Turkish government to recover the remains of Emir Bachir Shehabi II from the Armenian Catholic Church in Istanbul, in order to bury him within the Palace he had built. In summer 1840, the Turkish  government accepted the Lebanese request. A delegation headed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army leader Fouad Shehab traveled to Istanbul and received the remains which were transferred by railway to Beirut, and were welcomed by Lebanon with graciousness and honor. The government held national funerals for the Emir which were transferred from the port to the Martyrs Place then to Beiteddine where he was buried in a private graveyard within the historical palace.
During the mandates of Presidents Bechara El Khoury and Camille Chamoun, the presidency’s departments used to move during the whole summer to the Beiteddine Palace. As for President Fouad Chehab, he only stayed at the Palace for one night, unlike Presidents Charles Helou, Sleiman Franjieh, Elias Sarkis, Emile Lahoud and Michel Sleiman who were keen on spending a part of summer at the Palace, with the distinction that President Sleiman stayed the longest period of summer in Beiteddine, compared to the former Presidents.

The war and what followed prevented Presidents Amine Gemayel and Elias Hrawi from visiting Beiteddine, till it was taken back by the State in 1992, and President Emile Lahoud resumed staying in it for a few weeks during summer starting 1999.
The Palace underwent a process of restoration and modernization during the tenure of President Charles Helou (1964 – 1970). Moreover, the Minister of Works and Tourism Walid Joumblatt made sure that the landmarks of the Palace were safeguarded and protected from degradation despite the cruel war circumstances. As for President Sleiman, he confirmed during the session of the Council of Ministers held at the Beiteddine Palace on 18/08/2010 that the Palace needs restoration, so the Council of Ministers decided to entrust the Development and Reconstruction Council with the follow-up the issue in coordination with the concerned ministries. In 2010 also, President Sleiman gave his instructions to the people in charge of the Palace to open some of the important parts of the Presidential wing to visitors and tourists, in order to give them a rich exposure to this archeological and historical landmark. 
The Beiteddine Palace witnessed numerous occasions, meetings and conferences: aside from the cabinet sessions whose hall was built under President Franjieh, ministerial closed meetings were held at the Palace in the years 1968, 1969 and 1974, along with the meetings of the National Dialogue Committee in May 2010 and 2012. Furthermore, the meetings of the Arab follow-up committee for the Lebanese crisis were held at the Palace in October 1978, June and July 1981. The Lebanese-Syrian summit between Presidents Bechara El Khoury and Shukri al-Quwatli in summer 1947 was one of a series of summit meetings held between Presidents Chamoun, Helou and Franjieh and Presidents, Kings and Princes in the Palace. As for the unique event held at the Beiteddine Palace under President Chehab, it was the First Expatriates Festival in July 1959.