SIDON’S OTTOMAN HERITAGE
Few people are aware of the existence of the Lebanese Her itage Museum, but its vast collection that covers the histor y of Lebanon makes it an essential visit. Founded in 2003 in Jounieh it later reopened in 2013 at the General Secretar iat of Catholic Schools in Lebanon in Ain Najm, Beit Mer y. Its 14 sections cover ever y era of Lebanese histor y: the Phoenician times, Romans, the Byzantine and Islamic eras to Lebanon under Ottoman rule. Halls are also dedicated to impor tant figures in Lebanese histor y, such as Youssef Bey Karam – the Lebanese maronite who fought in the 19th Centur y civil war and star ted a rebellion against the Ottomans in Mount Lebanon; the scholar, histor ian and judge Semaan Khazen Al Ehdeny; statesman and histor ian Jawad Boulos’ Patr iarch Ar ida and a collection of the works of renowned Lebanese ar tist Saliba Douaihy. The collection is extensive and includes Roman sarcophagi, ancient dr inking vessels, Byzantine columns, decorative Islamic tiles and Ottoman weapons. A walk around the museum, leads you on a timeline through Lebanese histor y, giving insight into the civilizations that have lef t their impact on the countr y.
The collection star ted in early 1900 by histor ian and wr iter Samer el Khazen; growing in size when his son, Joseph Semaan Khazen, began collecting archeology and antiques. His son Simon el Khazen set up the Samer el Khazen Association in 2000 and opened the museum a few years later with the aim to preser ve Lebanese her itage and make it accessible to the public – continuing the work of his father and grandfather before. “I was born in this ambiance so it was attractive to me. I continued the work of my grandfather and father by establishing a museum,” Simon says. “The museum highlights all the cultures that passed through histor y on Lebanese land.”
Though the museum’s collection shows a wider scope of the countr y’s her itage, it also reflects a more personal histor y of the El Khazen’s, a prominent ar istocratic family in Lebanon. Ar tist Saliba Douaihy was a family fr iend and within the museum’s collection of his works is a charcoal por trait of the young Simon and his brother Fouad.
Alongside the museum, El Khazen star ted the foundation with the aim to repr int books on Lebanese histor y, par ticularly the works authored by his grandfather who published three books on Youssef Bey Karam; another nine were never released. “We are re-pr inting these 12 books in a ver y modern way,” Simon says. “We also just finished a book on the ar tist Saliba Douaihy – an active ar tist in Lebanon who exhibited all over the world.”