When Emir Bachir II Chehab decided at the end of the 18th century to leave Deir El Kamar and build a new castle of his own, he chose the village of Beiteddine located 50 km south of Beirut and about 1000 meters above sea level. Built on a former Druze hermitage, and surrounded by terraced gardens and orchards, the palace of Prince Bachir encompasses three main courtyards: Dar el-Baranié or the outer section, Dar el-Wousta or the middle section, and Dar el-Harim or the private apartments.
It is in this latter section that emir Bachir settled in 1806. The outer courtyard, Dar el-Baranié, is 60m long. According to the Arab tradition, it was a reception place reserved for passers-by, but it was also a theater for festivities and gatherings and the starting point for hunts and war expeditions. Dar el-Wousta is the most formal section of the palace; it was the place of the Emir’s guards, secretaries and ministers. This central courtyard that can be reached through two monumental staircases and a majestic lavishly designed gate is decorated by water fountains. The stables are built around the outer courtyards. About 500 horses used to wait for their riders there. The northern section of the Palace is the Hammam. Accessible through the reception room. Bathers used to come to relax before and after the bath.
On the first floor, there was a museum of old weapons, musical instruments, silverware, Lebanese outfits, and traditional jewelry. However, it was robbed during wartime. In August 1987, the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt restored the complex and converted a room into an exhibit including a collection of weapons, some of which date back to the 20th century.
It includes an interesting collection of Byzantine mosaics from the ruins of a church of Jiyeh. The old Porphyreon occupies the stables, the basement halls, and a part of the gardens.
The museum underwent additional restorations: A museum for the Druze leader Kamal Jomblatt, assassinated in 1977 was inaugurated on May 1st, 1991. It displays documents and manuscripts, sharing his life, in addition to a re-creation of his room at Moukhtara Palace where he used to meditate in isolation.
Other palaces were built by the sons of the Emir. The only one that remains in good shape is the Palace of Emir Amine, which is now one of the most luxurious hotels in Lebanon.