Berytus (or Beirut)
Berytus (Or Beirut)
We extract the following additional particulars descriptive of this place from Porter's Handbook for Syria, p. 388 sq.
"The town is at the present time the most prosperous in Syria, though only ranking third in point of size. It is assuming a European look, with its bustling quay and crowded port, and large warehouses and shops, and beautiful suburban villas. All this prosperity is owing to foreign influence; the European mercantile firms having infused some life into the natives. The principal article of export is raw silk, the trade in which is rapidly increasing in extent and importance. In fact, Lebanon is gradually becoming one vast mulberry plantation. Beirut is every year increasing, and is at this moment, as far as foreign commerce is concerned, the first town in Syria. A large proportion of its imports are for the Damascus markets, it being now the port of that city. . . . .The making of the great road across the double range of Lebanon to Damascus has contributed very materially to the prosperity of Beirut. The road was constructed by a French company, but is now managed by the Turkish government.
"The situation of Beirut is exceedingly beautiful. The promontory on which it stands is triangular, the apex projecting three miles into the Mediterranean, and the base running along the foot of Lebanon. The southwestern side is composed of loose, drifting sand, and has the aspect of a desert. The north-western side is totally different. The shore-line is formed of a range of irregular, deeply indented rocks and cliffs. Behind these rocks the ground rises gradually for a mile or more, when it attains the height of about two hundred feet. In the middle of the shore-line stands the city-first a dense nucleus of substantial buildings, then a broad margin of picturesque villas, embowered in foliage, running up to the summit of the heights, and extending far to the right and left. Beyond these are the mulberry groves covering the acclivities, and here and there groups of palms and cypresses.
"The old town stands on the beach, and often during a northerly gale gets more of the sea-water than is agreeable. The little port, now in a great measure filled up, lies between a projecting cliff and a ruinous insulated tower called Burj Fanzar, which bears, like the rest of the fortifications, many a mark of British bullets. The old streets are narrow, gloomy, and badly paved; but some of the new streets are wide, and better adapted for a rapidly advancing commerce. Many of them are passable for carts and carriages. The houses are substantially built of stone, and a few of the villas in the suburbs possess some pretensions to architectural effect. The view commanded by the higher houses is magnificent, embracing the bay of St. George, the indented coast stretching away northwards far as the eye can see, and the ridge of Lebanon with its wild glens, dark pine forests, clustering villages, castle-like convents, and snow-capped peaks.
"The antiquities in and around Beirut accessible to the traveller are few and of little interest. A number of columns of gray granite scattered here and there through and around the town; some foundations, pieces of tessellated pavement, and excavations in the rock, probably the remains of baths, half a mile along the shore to the westward; a group of sarcophagi about the middle of the south-western shore of the promontory; and the ruins of an aqueduct at the base of the mountains on the east, which once brought a supply of pure water from Nahr Beirut to the city — such is about a complete list of the antiquities. Almost every year shows that there are many others far more important buried beneath the soil and rubbish. Old tombs are frequently laid open by excavation, sometimes containing sarcophagi of pottery, with lachrymatories and other articles of glass.
"The cause of education has received a great stimulus since the establishment of the American Mission in 1823. Their schools have created a taste for information and literature; and their admirably conducted press has done much to gratify it, by the issue not only of religious books, but of excellent elementary treatises on the various sciences. The director of that press, Dr. Van Dyck, is one of the most accomplished Arabic scholars in the world.
"The college established in 1863 by the liberality of English and American philanthropists is an admirable institution, and will serve largely to advance the cause of education not in Beirut merely, but throughout Syria. It is founded on a large and liberal basis, and proposes to give complete collegiate training in languages, literature, science, and medicine. It is at present under the able presidency of Dr. Bliss, formerly an American missionary."
There is also a prosperous mission-school for girls, a boarding-school for boys, a medical school, a Prussian Institute of Deaconesses, and a beautiful chapel for English as well as Arabic Protestant service. The city is supplied with water from the Nahr el-Kelb by a modern aqueduct. See Thomson, Land and Book, i, 39 sq.; Ridgaway, The Lord's Land, p. 726 sq.; Schaff, Through Bible Lands, p. 373 sq. SEE SYRIA, MISSIONS IN.