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Mosque Mohammad el-Ameen (Al Amin)

The Lebanese capital Beirut has always held pride of place in this Orient dreamland, whether in the times of the Phoenicians, the Romans with the Law Faculty, the Arabs, the Crusaders or their various successors, down to the present day. There is much to admire from ancient centuries. But among the present-day monuments raised at the dawn of this third millennium one cannot ignore the Mohammad Ameen Mosque, a masterpiece of religious architecture, sheltering the tomb where lies the former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, with his two fellow national martyrs.

The mosque stands in the center of the city, on the north-west side of the space once known as Artillery Square (place des Canons), then as Martyrsí Square and finally as Independence Square. It is north-east of the Maronite church of St. George, near the remains of the Roman Law School.

There is no denying that this new monument enriches Beirut with its esthetic, religious, cultural and national qualities. The foundation stone was laid in the year 2003 by then Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who considered it his own personal project, one which however was completed only after his death. His mortal remains repose there in a site adjacent to the mosque.

Mohammad Ameen Mosque presents 10,700m2 of floor space distributed over four stories. At the corners stand four minarets each over 72 meters high, while the dome rises over 42 meters above the floor devoted to public prayer. By its architecture the mosque has an Ottoman aspect, recalling Aghia Sophia of Constantinople, with however a Lebanese touch and illustrations and various details in Mamluke Egyptian style.

The color of the stone employed is yellow ochre. The dome is of a clear blue with touches of gold that give an effect of richness under the blaze of the Lebanese sun.

Standing not far from the Mediterranean Sea, vast and likewise blue, it faces the Monument of the Martyrs, heroes of Lebanese independence. Once this area was the busiest and most animated part of Beirut, crammed with commercial centers, parking lots, stores, hotels, stalls, news-stands, cinemas, haunts of pleasure, a vegetable market, taxi ranks, tramway stops, the Surety Police headquarters, banks, money changers, in fact with everything one can imagine, and with leading schools close nearby.

It was a vital nerve center that gave character to Beirut, but this is no longer the case, for the institutions that were the life of Beirut are now scattered more or less all over the city. However, the churches, mosques, ancient remains and pedestrian walks make this an area no tourist should miss.

Joseph Matar

- Mohammad Al Amin Mosque: >> View Movie << (2009-09-01)



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