Vintage Amir Munzer

A few times previous, I've mentioned a cache of pictures of Beirut taken in 1965 that are available online. If you have the time go ahead and follow this link and browse around. They're fun to see.

The collection of mid-60s images includes this one.

I knew I recognized the place, and finally the other day, I took photo of what it looks like now. It's the Emir Munzer mosque downtown, very near Place de L'etoile. In fact, if you're standing there by the clock tower and look over to the northwest, this is pretty much what you will see.

Wikitravel has this to say about it: The Amir Munzer Mosque was built in 1620 on an earlier structure. Also called Nafoura (fountain) Mosque, there are eight Roman columns in its courtyard.

That's interesting stuff.  But what I'd love to know is, why weren't there crescents atop the minaret and dome in the 1960s.  When were they installed and why?  


  1. Fun to compare "then" with "now."

  2. A large book just came about Paris with photos from the 1850's compared with photos of the same places today. Would love to get a copy.

    That is curious about the crescents. Will ask my brother in law if he knows anything...

    Looks like the stone wall has changed color too, or did it just get a facelift ?

    Happy holidays !

  3. It is not strictly necessary to have a crescent on a mosque or minaret. I think in the 60s they didn't really give it a thought.
    The crescents were very likely added in the 90s during the refurb of the area, probably because there's a cross somewhere in the horizon. You know the cliché of the Cross and Crescent.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Kishesh. I did a little bit of looking on-line and found a wikipedia entry about the crescent and Isalm. Apparently, the crescent was Ottoman, and slowly and independent association with Islam took hold as well.

    So while the crescent originated with the Ottomans, it's placement on this mosque dates from a much later period.

  5. Nice to see. The crescent was actually added during the 1949-1950 restoration done by architect Antoine Tabet. At the time, the cresents had probably become common practice and were added as part of the restoration.