Martyrs' Square, a central landmark in Beirut, has undergone several name changes throughout its history.
It is also known as Place des Canons, in reference to the cannons that the Russians placed there between 1773 and 1774 to defend against potential sea attacks.
At another point in its history, the square was referred to as "Al Burj" ("the tower" in Arabic). This name harks back to an imposing tower, standing approximately 18 meters tall, which provided a panoramic 360° view, enabling the immediate detection of any movements by potential adversaries. This tower saw several cycles of construction, destruction, and rebuilding until the late 19th century.
At the heart of this historic square stands the Martyrs' Statue, an iconic monument of the Lebanese capital.
Unveiled in 1960, this bronze masterpiece is the creation of the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati (1907-1969). Mazzacurati is also renowned for his work on the Monument to the Partisan, which was dedicated in Parma in 1956 as a tribute to Italian resistance fighters during the Second World War.
The Martyrs' Statue was crafted in honor of Lebanese nationalists who were tragically executed in the square by the Ottomans on May 6, 1916.
Despite enduring damage during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), it underwent restoration efforts starting in 1996. Remarkably, it was decided to preserve its numerous bullet holes, serving as a poignant reminder of the ravages of war.