Lebanon: Holidays, Events, Customs
National customs and traditions
Lebanon is considered one of the most modern countries in the Arab world. Nevertheless, women should not wear too revealing clothing and men should not wear shorts, at least outside of larger cities and in parts of the country that are predominantly inhabited by Muslims. The same applies, of course, to visiting churches and mosques. Mosques can only be entered without shoes, and headgear is compulsory for women. The Lebanese women in the cities are very well dressed; one attracts attention here in negligent clothing.
Exchanging caresses in public is considered strange and should therefore be avoided. Homosexuality is under threat of punishment in Lebanon. Section 534 of the Lebanese Criminal Code provides for a prison sentence of up to one year for any so-called “unnatural” sexual association or act. Further criminal law provisions concern behavior that is considered immoral or contrary to good morals (Sections 523, 526, 533 of the Lebanese Criminal Code). As far as is known, these laws are not actually applied, but caution should be exercised in public. In this context, it seems strange to us that men who walk hand in hand are part of the normal street scene.
Shisha (water pipes) are smoked in cafes all over Lebanon, including by women.
During Ramadan, Islamic Lent, Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke from sunrise to sunset. Many restaurants and shops are therefore closed during the day. Of course, the fasting requirement does not apply in hotels and not for tourists; smoking in public should be avoided, including tourists.
There is still hashish cultivation north of Harmel, even if this is prohibited. Avoid “getting lost” in this area; an encounter with the hashish farmers can be quite unpleasant. Incidentally, the possession of hashish, like all other drugs, is extremely severely punished – Lebanese prisons are uncomfortable! Make sure that people you do not know have access to your luggage before you leave the country.
Public holidays and Cultural events
|January 1||New Year|
|February 9||Mar Maroun Festival|
|April 18||Oana day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|May 6||Martyrs Day|
|15th of August||Assumption Day|
|November 1||All Saints Day|
|22nd of November||Independence day|
|February||Festival with student theater performances, films and dance in Ayloul|
|February March||Al Boustan Festival in Beit Mery|
|May||International Jazz Festival, Beirut|
|all summer long||Music festivals in Baalbek and Beiteddine|
|October||International Film Festival, Beirut|
Source: Countryaah – Lebanon Holidays
|Every Sunday||Horse racing in the hippodrome in Beirut, with pure-blooded Arabian horses|
|July||International paragliding festival, in different locations|
|November||International marathon in Beirut. In 2004, 12,000 runners took part, in 2005 there were already around 20,000 participants|
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. For example, cultural travelers see the climate very differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role. Therefore, our travel time recommendations are divided into the following two categories:
For more sun-hungry people
The following seasons are particularly suitable for a stay in Lebanon for people who like to enjoy a lot of sun and for whom higher temperatures do not cause problems: May to October
For people who prefer a temperate climate
People who prefer a moderate climate and lower temperatures should better use the following season (s) to stay in Lebanon: November to April.
The climate is Mediterranean: the winters are mild by our standards with occasional rain; there is snow in the mountains. Summers are hot and dry.
Lebanon is one of the few countries in the Middle East where there is enough rain to supply agriculture and households with sufficient water.
Weather or climate table
The following table shows a number of weather and climate data for the country.
|Month||Average number of rainy days||Mean maximum temperatures in (°C)||Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)|
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that LE stands for the nation of Lebanon as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Ruins of the Omayyad city of Anjar (also: Umayyads)
About 60 km southeast of Beirut, not far from the Lebanese-Syrian border at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains lies Anjar. Apart from an Omayyad mosque ruin in Baalbek, there are very few traces of that time in Lebanon. of the Omayads (650 – 750). Not far from one of the main sources of the Litani River in one of the most fertile areas of today’s Lebanon, the land routes to Damascus, Beirut, Homs, Baalbek and the south of the region cross here.
The ruin area has slender columns and arcades.
The most significant ruins include the Grand Palace and the mosque in the southern part of the city, the residential areain the southwest, the Small Palace in the northwest and a palace and public bath in the northeast. The floors and surfaces of the Grand Palace have been left in their original state; one can see owls, eagles, shells and acanthus leaves in the stones. In the southern part of the city there are other ruins worth seeing, one can also find reconstructed colonnades there. The restored tetrastyle, with Greek inscriptions carved into its base, and the Corinthian capital with characteristic leaf decorations, can be admired here.
Layers of hewn stones alternate with mud bricks in the masonry. The numerous, evenly distributed column bases and the many remains of columns lying around belong to the colonnades that framed the main street on both sides and several of which were constructed so that one can easily imagine what the streets with the colonnades looked like at that time.
The city had an impressive irrigation system and sewers. An even clearer proof that the Omayyads made use of the architectural tradition of other cultures is provided by the baths located a little north of the second palace, which follow the classic Roman layout – with rooms for cold, warm and hot water as well as a changing room – and relaxation room Greatness suggests that it was not only intended for wellbeing but also had a social function.
A second, but smaller, bathroom of a similar structure can be found near the north gate.
The ruins of the Omayyad city of Anjar were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.
Ruins of Byblos
Byblos is located between the three thousand meter high mountains of the Lebanon Mountains and the coast – north of Beirut. Byblos has been settled for over 7,000 years and is one of the oldest cities in the world. Byblos had trade relations with Egypt, among others. In Byblos, paper was made from the wood of the Lebanon cedar and so the ” papyrus ” formed the basis for the invention of the first letters of the alphabet with 22 characters. Byblos is therefore probably the birthplace of writing.
The Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great and the Romans invaded the city.
The traces of the different cultures in the city can be seen in the monuments and ruins. The cult buildings for the city deities were excavated.
The ruins of Byblos were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984
Baalbek is a city in the east of the country and lies between the Litani and Asi rivers.
The local large sun temple had a floor area of 4,500 m², on which 58 Corinthian columns are arranged. The Temple of Jupiter, also in the Corinthian style, had a floor area of 2,500 m² and is also surrounded by columns. There was also the temple of Bacchus, which was located in front of the temple of Jupiter, and the small temple of Venus. Ruins from the 4th century AD have been preserved from a basilica that was probably Christian.
The ruins of Baalbek were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984
Ruins of Tire
The first evidence of the city of Tire is dated to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. Dated. At that time, Tire was an island and was politically independent for a long time because the great powers Egypt and the Hittite Empire had been weakened. Alexander the Great conquered Tire in 332 BC. With which the city lost its political independence and the city began to decline. During the conquest, Alexander the Great had a dam built from the mainland, alluvial land was driven and the island then became a peninsula. Above all, ruins from Roman times have been preserved, ruins of a hippodrome and a burial city in front of the old city.
The ruins of Tire were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984
Wadi Qadisha (Sacred Valley) and Lebanon Cedar Forest (Horsh Arz el-Rab)
The mighty cedars of Lebanon are located at a difficult to access height and quite far from the coast. The cedars, for example, provided the building material for the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Ships were also built with the valuable wood. The hardness of the wood and the size of the cedar were the reason for this sought-after material. Their oil and resin were used in the mummification of Egyptian pharaohs.
In order to save the cedar forests, the Roman Emperor Hadrian had felling boundary lines and information about the tree population carved into the rocks and stone in the 2nd century AD. About 200 of these inscriptions were found.
From the once huge forests, only a few stands in hard-to-reach places are preserved today. Today there are only 375-year-old cedars that – like four of them – could even live to be more than a thousand years old. In 1876 the British Queen had a wall built to protect the trees in the cedar grove.
In this cedar forest there is a chapel of the Maronite patriarch. Nearby is the “Sacred Valley”, Wadi Qadisha. The water dug caves and grottoes into the rocks. Christian monks lived here. Chapels and monasteries were founded here, including the famous Qannoubin Monastery. The first printing press of the Middle East was installed in the monastery of St. Anthony at the beginning of the 17th century. The copies made with this printing press can be found in the Museum of the American University of Beirut.
The Sacred Valley and Cedar Forest of Lebanon were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. To ensure the continued existence of the precious cedar forests, a large number of new trees have been planted over the past few decades.
A large part of the old “Paris of the Orient” was unfortunately destroyed in the war; the largely rebuilt Beirutis strongly influenced by the west. In Beirut, one can mainly shop, enjoy excellent cuisine in elegant restaurants and plunge into the nightlife. There are discos, bars, pubs and dinner dancing in all variations. In the Basta Tahta district you will find the last remaining Turkish baths in Beirut, the Al-Nouzha baths, without a traditional ambience but with excellent service. Women are only allowed here on Monday mornings. In the Archaeological Museum of the AUB (American University Beirut) finds from the earliest settlement of the city are exhibited. In the center of Beirut you can visit countless mosques and churches; one of the mosques was recently built in memory of Mr. Hariri, who is also buried here.
Beirut’s coast, into which the promontory protrudes, is spectacular; in the background of the city, the mountain peaks covered by snow in winter are visible. There are beautiful beaches along the coast; Water skiing is a popular pastime here. On the coast you can also marvel at the city’s landmark, the bizarrely shaped pigeon rocks. The Corniche, the beach promenade, is ideal for jogging, strolling or visiting restaurants and cafes. After a ride on the cable car from Harissa up to the Notre Dame de Liban statue, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view.
Beiteddine (translated: House of Faith) is 50 km southeast of Beirut; The palace of the same name is particularly worth seeing – an imposing fairytale castle from 1001 nights. The Emir Béchir II Chehab had it built in the early 19th century, and it was an Italian architect who created this masterpiece of oriental architecture. Until the 1980s, the palace served as the official residence of the President, today a collection of Byzantine mosaics as well as ancient weapons and jewelry collections can be viewed there.
Jounieh has achieved fame primarily through the Casino du Liban. Before the civil war, it was known far beyond the Middle East and was considered a stronghold of well-kept entertainment. The concerts of Fairuz (THE music icon of the Arab world) that took place here are legendary. In 1996, the Casino du Liban was rebuilt with game and ballrooms, concert and theater rooms and restaurants.
Sidon, about 40 km south of Beirut, is particularly interesting because of its moated castle built in the 13th century by the crusaders. In addition, the Great Mosque, the Necropolis and the Echmoun Temple bear witness to the city’s eventful history, which dates back to the 6th century BC. BC was an important trading power as a city-state.
Tripoli, the second largest city in Lebanon, was founded in the 14th century BC. founded; it is located 85 km north of Beirut and is today a modern city with a number of interesting buildings from the Mameluke times, the number of which do not exist anywhere else outside of Egypt. Tripoli was conquered by the Crusaders in the 12th century. A good hundred years later, the Mameluk governor Saif ed-Din Tanal had the Great Mosque built on the ruins of their Cathedral of St. Mary, which still contains elements of the former church.
This archaeological cultural asset of Lebanon was at the beginning of its creation a Phoenician site dedicated to the god Baal, which the Greeks and Romans later called Heliopolis, “ City of the Sun ”. The Romans later even dedicated their main temple to Jupiter Heliopolitanus, who was equated with the god Baal.
Originally, however, a cult of nature was celebrated in Baalbek that even challenged people. In 47 BC BC, a good 15 years after Pompey Magnus had passed through Baalbek, C. Julius founded Caesar in Baalbek – because of the strategic location between Palmyra, the Syrian desertand the coastal cities – a Roman colony that was soon recognized as the highest city in the Roman province of Syria and in which many Roman rulers had pompous temples built. After the Christian conversion of the empire, the temples of Baalbek became churches, and after the Islamic conversion of the 7th century, the religious cities were united into a citadel.
Although Baalbek experienced considerable destruction in the following centuries through wars, earthquakes (especially 1759) and decay, for today’s visitor it is a fascinating historical site full of mysticism and religious presence.
You can reach this impressive place in a very comfortable way from Beirut by taking a minibus from Al-Rihab (cost approx. 3 euros, as of 2008). This will bring you to Baalbek in about 2 hours. The archaeological site should take between 2 and 3 hours. The minibuses that will bring you back to Beirut wait about 50 meters from the ruins.
Do not miss:
Only about 100 meters from Baalbek is the mousalium of Saideh Khawla, the daughter of Muhammad’s grandson Imam Al-Hussein, who is now worshiped as a Shiite saint.
You should definitely try Sfiha – bread (agin) with meat (laham) in Baalbek. Baalbek sfiha is known throughout Lebanon for its quality and taste. Sfiha is properly eaten by drizzling it with lime juice.
The ancient city of Byblos (Biblical Gebal, modern Jbail) with its picturesque harbor and the imposing ruins is one of the oldest permanently inhabited cities on earth. The first traces of settlement come from the Neolithic, around 7,000 years ago. In the 3rd millennium BC Byblos became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean.
The city traded mainly in cedar wood and oil, which it used as an exchange for gold, alabaster and papyrus scrolls, especially to Egyptbrought. The Greeks named the city after the Greek word for papyrus: Bublos. And from the Greek Ta biblia (= the books) comes the name Bible. From the 1st century BC, the city’s influence and strength declined due to increased conquest and external attacks. What remains, however, are the fascinating stone witnesses to what was once a very great epoch. Byblos can be reached in around 45 minutes by minibus from Beirut.
American University Beirut Archaeological Museum
Beirut, Bliss Street
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
The museum was founded around 1870 and is one of the oldest museums in the Middle East. The exhibits from the early Stone Age are particularly interesting.
Beirut National Museum, Museum’s Square
Hours of Operation: Every day except Monday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The museum houses a large collection of excavation finds from all over Lebanon, including coins, ceramics, mosaics, jewelry and weapons from the prehistoric, Bronze and Iron Ages, Roman, Byzantine and Mameluke eras.
Opening times: daily 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The museum was opened in 1988 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Baalbek. Statues and old photographs by the German photographer Hermann Burckhardt are on display.
Beiteddine Palace Museum
opening times: Daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (except Monday), in winter only until 4:00 p.m.
Weapons, jewelry and clothing from the Phoenician period to the Middle Ages are on display, as well as an excellent collection of Byzantine mosaics.
Antelias, Armenian Patriarchate
Opening times: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. in summer, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in winter, except Monday
. Gold and silver ware from the 17th to 19th centuries, embroidery, Manuscripts and liturgical clothing. Another wing of the museum houses a collection of modern Armenian art.
Nicolas Sursock Museum
Beirut, Achrafieh, Sursok Str.
Opening times: Every day except Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Modern Lebanese and international art
Khalil Gibran Museum
Becharreh Hours of Operation
: Daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in summer, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except Monday in winter.
The museum is dedicated to the life and work of the most important Lebanese poet and painter Khalil Gibran; it contains manuscripts, paintings and photos as well as furniture from his possession.
Sidon Soap Museum, Haret Audi, El Moutran Str.
Opening times: Every day except Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The soap factory from the 17th century has been a museum since 2000. The various stages of soap production and the history of soap production in Lebanon are shown.