Serail Hill offers a majestic view of the sea and the mountains of Lebanon. It is the site of three impressive Ottoman architecture monuments - the Grand Serail, the Council for Development and Reconstruction and the Hamidiyyeh Clock Tower.
Also known as the Government Palace, the Grand Serail now serves as the headquarters of the prime minister of Lebanon and as the seat of the Lebanese government. This monumental edifice was built and expanded throughout the course of the 19th century. Its austere façade reflects the Ottoman military style of architecture of that period. This historical building was particularly hard hit during the Lebanese Civil War, but was refurbished after hostilities ceased in 1991. The building's extensive renovations were completed in 1998.
In 1865, a military hospital was built on the orders of Sultan Abdul Aziz. However, after the French entered the city in 1918, the hospital was converted to a courthouse. Later the edifice became the Institute of Fine Arts at the Lebanese University. Most of the building was destroyed during the Civil War, but after its restoration, it became the headquarters for the Council for Development and Reconstruction, which has been operating there since 1992.
Hamidiyyeh bell tower
This clock tower on Serail Hill was built in 1897 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coronation of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Its second function was to make up for the lack of a public clock that would indicate the mandatory Muslim prayer times. The clock tower was designed by engineer Youssef Aftimus, who arranged for various stones from the region to be used in its construction: Beiruti sandstone, Damascene basalt and Deir el Qamar red stone. The 25-metre tower was the tallest structure in Beirut upon its completion. It houses a bell that weighs 300kg, and its four, large clock faces were made in France.
Keywords: Serail Hill, Beirut