Martyr square

Martyr square is a public square in downtown Beirut,Lebanon. Its history is the story of Lebanon, eventful and dramatic. The story of this square starts in the 1920s and today awaits  in limbo.
This entry will be a short photo-history of the square. The text will only be in caption form:

During the Ottoman period,  the square was known as Canon square. During the Ottoman rule, when world war 1 discriminatory practices against the locals took place a revolt occurred. This resulted with the square being used as an execution for Lebanese nationalists. After the ottoman period ended and due to the events that occurred in this square the name was changed into Martyr Square in the name of the nationalist martyrs. 

Martyr square was always the center of the city, geographically, physically, socially and politically. In the 1970s when the social fabric of the city fell apart martyrs square got its fair share of hatred, bullets, and death. The green line divided the city of Beirut into east and west and passed through the  square in a no mans land.


In the early 1990s when the war was finally over the surrounding buildings were razed to the floor to start a period of 'reconstruction' and amnesia.

In 2005 On the day of the demonstration and those that followed the statue seemed alive. It became a center again crowded with demonstrators hopes, banners and flags.

More than  20 years later the square remains a void in the city with big plans. Does the square today still symbolize the reality of the Lebanese geography a waste land of ideas and dreams of an unreconciled history?


  1. A large part of our history is somehow forgotten through all the conflicts that we went through and still are going through. Architecture and space are the biggest witnesses to all of these conflicts so thank you for sharing with us their story :)

    I wonder if you could make such a post about "se7it l nejme". I hear the clock there was removed and then re-erected several times and that there are archeological ruins beneath it. I can share a photo with you if you like :)

    Thanks again!

  2. Hey nsrn!

    Thanks for the comment and interest. I will surely look into "se7it l nejme" but yes do send me what photos or references you have


  3. Hi Sandra,

    I love your photos of Martyrs Square. I am writing about the Square for my graduate thesis and I have had trouble finding photos of the Square after the war, only have one (AUB didn't have any in their collection). I wanted to see if it was ok if I used the photo from 1994 or if you could let me know where you found it and I can write to the publisher.

    Thank you!

  4. DEAR anonymous

    yes you can use the photos. They were given to me mostly by Solidere and you will have to ask them if you want to know who took which photo


  5. I remember when Fairuz held a big open air concert in the square in September 1994, to mark her first performance in Lebanon after the civil war... It was a huge empty space, exactly like the photo above

    Today when I pass through, I sometimes try to figure out where that concert actually took place

  6. Hi Sandra,

    Sorry I didn't notice you had replied any earlier, which email should i send you the pics to?

  7. Hi Sandra, this is also a great post, you should include the widget ¨followers¨ so readers can see your updates, and I hope you´ll continue with your posts, regards,

  8. amazing photos Sandra, showing the mutation of beirut and its morphing into some unrecognizable non-place (like an airport or mall)...
    we would be pleased to collaborate together in the Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage (,, facebook: stop destroying your heritage)

    all the best and hope to meet/work with you (:

    josef haddad

  9. the pics show the development of the martyrs square in a very simple and visually understandable way, thank you for this...
    I am working on a project on the subject of reconstruction of Beirut downtown.I created a blog to get more information directly from people living in Beirut. If you find some minutes it would be great if you visit the blog and post answers by using the comment function. Thanks ...

  10. Great pictures, thanks for posting. The 84-94 transformation is so visually dramatic. Yet even in the 84 picture there seems to be a few gaping spaces. I wonder if these were empty plots or also cleared by bulldozing.

  11. The saddest thing is how the void is being built one bit at a time since it is where 1.5million started a revolution in 2005, one that was supposed change the country. Obviously if the center of the revolution is vanishing, the revolution doesn't really exist. The same applies to Riad El-Solh square, nouvel's landmark now occupies a space that was once a direct channel of public expression.