Status of Lighthouses in Lebanon
Lebanon has lighthouses all along its coast. There are lighthouses in Tyre, Saida, Beirut, Batroun and Tripoli. Unfortunately, most of these lighthouses are damaged, and unmaintained; thus abandoned and inactive. The number of operational lighthouses has declined due to the expense of maintenance and replacement by modern electronic navigational devices.
Introduction to MED-PHARES
In 2013, SPNL took part in the MED-PHARES project. Funded by ENPI CBC-MED, the project aims to develop a model, applicable in all countries of the Mediterranean area, to highlight the uniqueness of the coastal heritage. The broader objective is to promote and contribute to these unique territories as resources for sustainable tourism development.
Today, this heritage is often found abandoned and disconnected from the urban / rural life planning where it operates, and therefore ignored by the institutions and the local populations thus forming a missed opportunity for economic growth.
The development of these sites will allow local people to reclaim the maritime heritage present in their territory.
In parallel, tourists will enjoy a culturally valued territory enriched by a unique heritage.
Lighthouses and people
Not only are the conditions of the lighthouses deteriorating but also the conditions of the lighthouse keepers’.
The daily life of a lightkeeper was both demanding and tedious, and at all times it was focused on keeping the light burning brightly. The duties of the lightkeeper have changed during the years, and these changing duties have re-ected changing technology and expectation.
Lighthouses and SPNL
SPNL is trying to preserve and maintain the coastal heritage of Lebanon and its historical landmarks while drawing the attention to the plight of these beacons. The aim of this project is to try to keep as many lighthouses as possible in the care of local communities because of their marine heritage value, their symbolic significance and social meaning to the nearby communities and the public coastal land.
SPNL, a member of the Mediterranean Consortium, is interested in this project because it is already working on the protection of marine Himas such as: Hima Qolaileh, Hima Mansouri and Hima Byblos.
Linking culture to nature
Preserving the lighthouses is part of conserving the marine coastal heritage. These beacons serve as a transitional zone between sea and land. They stand as a protector and a guard to the endangered species as such: sea turtles, and Mediterranean monk seals.
By conserving the lighthouse, we are not only reviving the natural and cultural resources but also the human resources such as the traditional practice of the lighthouse’s keepers.
Who can save the lighthouse?
Local community groups, supported by the local municipalities, stakeholders and decision makers, are most suitable to preserve lighthouses because these are the people whose ancestors kept the lights ongoing and who care deeply about them. They are the most likely to develop the sites in a sensitive and appropriate manner. The responsible government authorities would also add an important impact on the conservation of the remaining lighthouses of Lebanon. However, national and international cooperation is also needed as they offer committed support. In addition to that, NGOs play an essential role in the implementation of these kinds of projects.
The total number of Lebanon’s lighthouses is eight: Tripoli 1, Batroun 1, Beirut 3, Saida 2 and Tyre 1.Two of Lebanon’s lighthouses were built on islands and are only accessible by boats. Tripoli and Saida’s lighthouses were established on Ramkin and Zire islands respectively. Until this day, the Zire’s lighthouse is still active. Beirut has three lighthouses: the old lighthouse, the port’s lighthouse and the Manara lighthouse. Unfortunately, in July 2006, war broke out on the Israeli frontier, and during the five weeks of heavy fighting two of Beirut’s lighthouses were damaged.