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Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral

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Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral

This cathedral was built in the 17th century, according to the architectural Byzantine traditions. Saint-George Cathedral is located near the Star Square. It is one of the oldest churches in the city. It also includes a monastic convent, a school, a clinic, and most of all, the first printing machine in the city. During the civil war, the building and especially the wall paintings were heavily damaged. This wall is now entirely renovated.

TThis cathedral was the only church in the city for many years. It was known under the name of “Saint-George Convent”, for it gathered many ecclesiastical centers: it was the main location of the Metropolite, the location of the monks, and the consultative Council center (Al Melli), and it included a school, a library, a hospital, and a printing machine (the first Arab printing machine in Beirut). Many works took place in this cathedral: in 1715, at the time of Metropolite Neophitos, the church was enlarged and renovated by chance. In 1759, after being damaged by an earthquake, this church was restored and enlarged. The works remained for three years, from 1764 to 1767: the year in which the roof of the cathedral collapsed on the believers during the mass (90 people passed away). Afterwards, a new restoration took place in 1772, at the time of Metropolite Yoakim. In 1783, the church was embellished by a walnut wooden iconostas and decorated with icons from the 19th century. In 1904, this church was enlarged one more time, at the time of Metropolite Gerasimos Mesarra: the walls and the roof were decorated with frescos and an enclosure wall was built around the court.

TThe war of 1975-1990 strongly affected this cathedral: the majority of the icons and tools were destroyed; the iconostas and the frescos suffered a lot from the violence or the climate. On October 16, 1995, the Metropolite of Beirut Elias Aoudé decided to restore this cathedral. Many studies on the state of the building started. Meanwhile, archeological excavations revealed the traces of three superimposed churches. The oldest one of them is probably the Resurrection church: it was destroyed by the strong earthquake that hit Beirut in 551. Above this church, remnants of a Middle-Ages church were found, and above those, were the traces of another 18th century church.

TIt is worth noting that the excavations revealed the remnants of a cemetery and mosaics. Those excavations were transformed into a subterranean museum. The restoration allowed working on the iconostas (many parts of it were found and restored; the damaged parts were done over and joined to the old ones); the floor (it was restored and paved with mosaics among which there was a copy of the mosaic found under the cathedral); the frescos (they were renewed by a group of Russian artists. This group restored what was almost intact. He took off the damaged parts and stuck them on canvases that are exposed in the church saloon. A group of Greek artists is now painting the rest of the frescos).

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Nejme Square
Downtown +
Beirut District, Beirut Governorate
Characteristics and classifications
Period of History (1) +
18th century
Religions and rites (1) +
Greek Orthodox
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