Lighthouses of Lebanon

Lebanon is a small country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Syria to the north and east and by Israel to the south. Like all of the Middle East, Lebanon was part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire for four centuries until World War I. After that war it was part of the French Mandate of Syria, but the French detached it from Syria and governed it separately after 1926. The country became independent in 1943, during World War II.

Lebanon was torn by a bitter civil war from 1975 to 1990. In July 2006 war broke out on the Israeli frontier, and during the five weeks of heavy fighting both of Beirut's lighthouses were damaged.

The Arabic word for a lighthouse is mnarh or manara (منارة). Ra's is the word for a cape or headland. Lebanese lighthouses are probably maintained by the port authorities of Tripoli and Beirut.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume N of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Lebanon
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses in Lebanon
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Lebanon
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Leuchtürme Asiens, Australiens, and Ozeaniens auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.

Beirut
Manara Lighthouse, Beirut, May 2006
photo copyright S.H. Mar; used by permission

South Governate Lighthouses
Sur (Sour, Tyre) (2)
Around 1912(?) (station established 1866). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 12 m (39 ft) round concrete tower with gallery and four ribs, mounted atop a 2-story masonry building. Lighthouse painted white. The building is described as being on an "old fort" in NGA. Hubert Marcueyz has posted a closeup photo, Trabas has another closeup, Marie Noëlle Taine also has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Although the date of this lighthouse is not known, it appears to be a twin of the 1912 lighthouse at Akko (Acre) in Israel. Sur, the ancient Phoenicean port of Tyre, is located on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean Sea. The lighthouse is located at the extreme northwestern tip of the peninsula. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS LEB-003; Admiralty N5942; NGA 21192.
Saida (Az Zirah, Zeeri, Sidon (3))
Date unknown (1930s?). Inactive; still listed with focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 3 s. Approx. 6 m (20 ft) round tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square concrete platform. Lighthouse painted with horizontal bands, red and white or black and white. Philip Hayward's photo is at right, another good 2007 photo is available, also a third photo, Wikimedia has a view from the shore, and Google has a satellite view. One photographer describes the lighthouse as abandoned, and it does not appear to have been active for many years. Saida is the ancient Phoenicean port of Sidon. The first lighthouse, established in 1866, was a lantern on a keeper's house. "Az Zirah" and "Zeeri" appear to be corruptions of jezirat (جزيرة), the Arabic word for an island. Located on a rocky island just off the entrance to the harbor of Saida. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty N5940; NGA 21140.

Saida Light, Saida, October 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Philip Hayward
* Sidon (2) (Sea Castle, Kalaat Saida al-Bahriya)
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 19 m (62 ft) partially ruined stone tower. The Sidon Sea Castle was built first by Crusader (Christian) knights in the 13th century; it was partially demolished and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Findlay's 1879 light list places the Sidon light on Az Zirah, but Jenkins's 1904 list places the light (two red lights, one above the other) at a height of 62 ft on a "red stone tower about 200 yds from the south end" of Az Zirah. This appears to describe the Sea Castle, although the castle is about 500 m (550 yd) from Az Zirah. Today the west tower of the castle has a small tripod tower that may have carried a light; it is seen in Wikimedia's many photos of the castle including the one on the Lightphotos.net page. Bing has a satellite view of the tower. Located on an island in Saida's traditional harbor, connected to the waterfront by a causeway. Site and tower open.

Beirut Governate Lighthouses
* Beirut (Ra's Bayrut, Beyrouth) (3)
Date unknown (1940s?) (station established 1863). Inactive since 2003. 27 m (89 ft) octagonal tower with lantern and a circular observation room. Tower painted with black and white horizontal bands. Charles Nouÿrit's photo is at right, Trabas has an excellent photo, Lois Bridenback has a 2008 photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Klaus Huelse has a postcard view of an older Beirut lighthouse, believed to be the original 1863 tower. Another historic view shows this lighthouse in 1920; it was at a higher elevation than the later lights. The second lighthouse, a round cylindrical tower, is believed to have been built around 1925. The third lighthouse, probably built in the 1940s, was deactivated in 2003 when a high-rise building, the Manara Tower, was built next door. Rabih Ammash, the businessman who built the new building, contributed the funds to build the replacement lighthouse (next entry). The old lighthouse continued in use as a relay station for the state-owned Radio Liban. On 10 August 2006 Israeli aircraft shot off the radio station's antenna and damaged the top of the lighthouse. This damage apparently has been repaired. Located on a steep slope above the Corniche, Beirut's famous waterfront boulevard, about 400 m (1/4 mi) west of Ra's Bayrut, a cape projecting into the Mediterranean. Site open, tower status unknown.
* Beirut (Ra's Bayrut, Beyrouth) (4)
2003 (station established 1863). Active (?); focal plane 52 m (171 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 50 m (164 ft) round concrete tower with lantern and a circular observation room, centered on a square 2-story building. The tower is unpainted gray concrete. S.H. Mar's photo is at the top of this page, a 2008 photo and another 2008 photo are available, and Google has a good satellite view. This new and very prominent lighthouse was inaugurated 25 September 2003. Libanvision has an article (in French, near the bottom of the page) about the construction of the lighthouse. Another photo appears at the top of this page. On 15 July 2006 an Israeli air raid damaged the lantern and top of the lighthouse; Mathieu Baudier has a closeup photo taken on August 26 that shows this damage. The lighthouse has since been repaired. Note: light lists still describe the older lighthouse. Located on the point of Ra's (Cape) Bayrut, on the Beirut Corniche, about 400 m (1/4 mi) northwest of the former lighthouse. Site open, tower status unknown. Operator: Port of Beirut. ARLHS LEB-002; Admiralty N5934; NGA 21116.
Old Beirut Light
Old Beirut Light, Beirut, January 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Charles Nouÿrit
* Beirut (Beyrouth) North Pier (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1895). Inactive at least since World War II. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) round concrete tower with gallery and four ribs, topped by a signal mast and rising from a 2-story building. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The building is abandoned and falling into ruin. The original lighthouse was described in 1920 as a stone tower. Located on the north breakwater of an inner basin at the west end of Beirut harbor, near the International Exhibition Center. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed.

North Governate Lighthouses
** Burj es-Sabaa (Tower of Lions) (?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; continuous red light. 21 m (69 ft) unpainted stone fortress. The Tower of Lions was built in the late 1400s by the Mameluk Sultan Qa'it Bey as part of the defenses of Tripoli against attack by the Ottomans. Ghassan el Ali has a photo, and Google has a satellite view, but no photos have been found that show a light on the building. Located at the edge of the Tripoli harbor district. Site open; the tower is preserved as a historical monument and is probably open, but we know nothing of the schedule. Admiralty N5927.6; NGA 21060.
Jazirat Ramkin (Ramkin Island, Île Ramkine) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1864). Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 3.3 s. Approx. 14 m square cylindrical masonry tower, rising from a 1-story masonry keeper's house. The light is displayed from a short post atop the tower. The lighthouse is unpainted yellow brick. Except for the automated light, the buildings of the station appear to be abandoned and in poor condition. Bing has a satellite view. Ramkin Island is the westernmost of a chain of islets, summits of an underwater ridge, that extends northwestward from the city of Tripoli. Located about 5 km (3 mi) northwest of the city. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: Port of Tripoli. ARLHS LEB-001; Admiralty N5926; NGA 21048.

Jazirat Ramkin Light, Tripoli
City of Tripoli photo

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Syria | South: Israel

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Posted May 31, 2007. Checked and revised June 6, 2014. Lighthouses: 8. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.