Al-Omari Mosque is one of Beirut’s oldest buildings, dating back to the 13th century. I like to escape here in the heat of the summer if I need a moment of solace away from the honking horns and rolling traffic. The building has gone through many different forms of existence: it was said to have been a Roman temple or Roman baths initially, and then it was a church built by the Crusaders, and later it was reconstructed as a mosque.
Like many other buildings in this city, it suffered heavily during the civil war, but it has been restored beautifully. It’s worth a visit for the light sandstone walls which are decorated with Ottoman inscriptions, for the delicate stained-glass panels, the golden steel cage, and the impressive vaulting. I think it perfectly showcases Lebanon’s multi-religious culture; it has a unique history and has stood the test of time in a city that is ever changing and often quick to discard its heritage, preferring the modern over the ancient.