The town of Deir al-Qamar is located in the heart of the el-Shouf district at an altitude of approximately 850 m above sea level, and it is within 38 km from Beirut.
Deir al-Qamar is unique in Lebanon, a town restored and maintained in a style many centuries old. Deir al-Qamar not only preserves its grand feudal architecture, but its old stepped streets, walled gardens, and picturesque corners as well.
Shortly after Emir Fakhreddine II came to power in 1590, a chronic water shortage in Baaqline forced him to move his capital to Deir a-Qamar. There, he ruled until his death in 1635. The town remained the residence of the governors of Lebanon until the 18th century, when the Emir Bechir II Chehab moved the capital to Beiteddine
- Prince Fakhreddine I mosque, built by Prince Fakhreddine the first in 1493.
- Prince Fakhreddine II Seray, one of the oldest Serays in Lebanon and Syria.
- Prince Fakhreddine II Caesarea, a square building with shops on each side; today, the headquarters of the French Cultural Center.
- Prince Melhem Seray
- Prince Ahmed Seray, built in the year 1755, known today as the Palace of Abi-Assaf Girgis Baz
- Prince Mahmud Seray
- Prince Yusuf Seray, built by Prince Yusuf, son of Prince Melhem, governor of Lebanon in 1770; today the headquarters of the Deir al-Qamar municipality.
- Dar Nicola Turk
- Dar Peter Karame, now the headquarters of the official school: Tomb of Al Kibbah (Darih al-Kibbah)
- El Talle Church (Our Lady of the Hill Church)
- Lady of the Rosary Church
- St. Elias Church
- Church of the Lady of Faqih
- Mansheya, renovated and converted into a public park
- Deir Mar Abda that contains a branch of Notre Dame University and Mar Abda High School
The town of Deir al-Qamar includes many hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
The huge public square or “midane” (meaning the jousting area), which was originally used for jousts and other equestrian contests, is surrounded by historic buildings. The large water fountain was added in the 19th century.
In the square itself is the Fakhreddine I mosque, constructed in 1493 and restored in the 16th century by the Emir Fakhreddine I Maan for his Muslim mercenary soldiers. Behind the mosque is a 19th century leather workers’ souk or market, which, today, houses modern shops.
Beyond the souk is the Palace of the Emir Younes Maan. Emir Younes, the brother of the Emir Fakhreddine II, was an army commander during Fakhreddine's voluntary exile to Italy in 1613. Later, the Emir Youssef Chehab (1770 - 1789) demolished the third story and used the stones to build his own residence, now the Seraglio or the Municipality Palace.
The Silk Khan or Kaïsariyyeh, located north of the the Emir Youssef Chehab Seraglio, was built in 1595 during the reign of Fakhreddine II. It was designed in the classical khan or caravansary style, and was originally used as a public marketplace for jewelry and silk. Today, the khan makes a unique setting for cultural activities.
The Kharj Barracks is a massive structure built by Fakhreddine II in 1616 as an ammunitions warehouse and barracks. It was remodeled under Bechir III Chehab (1840 - 1842) and became a food storehouse, mainly for soldiers. Now restored, this monument is the stunning setting of the French Cultural Center.
The Palace of the Emir Ahmed Chehab (Gergis Baz), located east of the “midane,” was built by the Emir for his wife in 1755. After the Emir Ahmed's death, his widow sold it to Gergis Baz, an important political figure at the time.
The Seraglio of Emir Fakhreddine II Maan (now the Emile Baz Palace) located behind the souks, was built with a central courtyard that opens onto rooms, apartments and kitchens. The palace is also the site of the Marie Baz Wax Museum featuring effigies of men and women who played a part in Lebanon's history.
Behind the Emile Baz Palace is the Residence of Nicolas El Turq (1763 - 1828), court poet of the Emir Bechir II. Built in 1805 in the Khan style, it was restored in 1955. A gallery of three arcades links the two sections of the building, and on the south façade are three arched windows.
The Hall of the Column gets its name from the massive column in its center, though the vaulted construction is also supported by a number of pillars. A part of the palace of Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it later served as a residence for the Emir Bechir II Chehab.
The Seraglio of the Emir Youssef Chehab, which today houses the town's mayoral offices, was built for the Emir Fakhreddine I. Later enlarged by the Emir Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it was later occupied by the Emir Yousef Chehab. Finally, the Emir Bechir II Chehab stayed there before the palace at Beiteddine was completed. The entrance is through a magnificent door decorated with two lions, symbol of the Chehab dynasty.
Two other sites are at a short distance from the “midane.” The Mausoleum El Kobbeh is the resting place of the Emir Ahmad Maan (1662 - 1697) and Haidar Chehab (1706 - 1732). Saïdet el Talle, or the church of our Lady of the Hill, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, although the structure we see today dates to Bechir II Chehab. The church has an old door decorated with a half-moon under a cross-a reference to the name "Deir al-Qamar" (Monastery of the Moon). On the first Sunday of August, the Feast of the Virgin is celebrated here.
SUMMERS OF DEIR EL KAMAR
Arts and cultural festivals are annually held in Deir al-Qamar, as well as crafts and heritage exhibitions.