Before it was Zaitunay Bay, it was St. George’s Bay.

Legend has it that this is the spot where St. George slew a dragon. At least, according to the book, “The Self-interpreting Bible, Volume 3," edited by James Wideman Lee and published in Missouri in 1911. It combines biblical texts with photos taken around the Holy Land by American photographer Robert E.M. Bain. The book was meant to help "understand and teach" the Bible.

Like many texts about the Middle East from this period, the book clearly has its own Orientalist agenda and biases. A seemingly benign picture of a candy seller is accompanied by a caption proclaiming that Beirut was “destined to be a Christian city, for already, through the influence of missionary work, many of its inhabitants are Christians.”

It doesn’t bother to mention that there were Christians in Lebanon long before Christianity came to Europe, much less mention the city’s Muslim or Druze inhabitants.

Still, it remains a fascinating snapshot of daily life in Lebanon over a century ago. Did you know it used to take 13 hours to get from Damascus to Beirut by horse, if you changed horses every hour?

Here's a look at some select images and text from the book:

(“Changing horses on the road to Beyrout – this photograph [was] taken on top of the Lebanon mountains…. The artist and the writer left Damascus at 4:30 in the morning [on] a ride of seventy miles over the Lebanon mountains, made in thirteen hours. Horses are changed every hour. Six are used to pull the conveyance and much of the time they pass in a sweeping gallop.")

(“Dog River, near the rock tablets containing the cartouches of Rameses II, placed here in the fourteenth century before Christ.... It is a very old place, and is spoken of in history before the time of Alexander the Great.")

(“Fisherman’s house where Titus celebrated his victory over Jerusalem… This city became a Roman colony in the reign of Augustus. It was adorned and beautified with theatres, colonnades, porticoes, and baths, by Agrippa, the remains of which are still scattered over the city.”)

(Beirut Coastline)

(Bay of St. George)

Articles & Media

6 photos


Avatar 1
Post to facebook