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25 Pounds 1983, Lebanon

in Krause book Number: 64с
Years of issue: 1983
Signatures: Joseph Oughurlian, Michel El Khoury
Serie: 1964 Issue
Specimen of: 1964
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 150 x 80
Printer: TDLR (Thomas de la Rue & Company), London

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25 Pounds 1983



lion lion watermark

Lion - bas-relief from the castle of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon.


25 Pounds 1983

Crusader castle Crusader castle

Sidon's Sea Castle (Arabic: قلعة صيدا البحرية Kalaat Saida al-Bahriya) was built by the crusaders as a fortress of the holy land. It is one of the most prominent historical sites in the port city of Sidon, Lebanon.

The city of Sidon is located on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. This ancient Phoenician city has been of great religious, political and commercial value; it is said to be inhabited since 4000 B.C. During the XIII century, the Crusaders built Sidon's Sea Castle as a fortress on a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow 80m long roadway. The island was formerly the site of a temple to Melqart, the Phoenician version of Heracles. The beauty of the Castle can be seen in old illustrations of it; however, after bearing several wars, it has been damaged and renovated several times. It was partially destroyed by the Mamluks when they took over the city from the Crusaders, but they subsequently rebuilt it and added the long causeway. The castle later fell into disuse, but was again restored in the 17th century by Emir Fakhreddine II, only to suffer great damage.

There is a possibility that the island on which the castle is built was, in fact, the location of the Phoenician King's palace and several other Phoenician monuments which were destroyed by Esarhaddon and then by natural earthquakes. This island has also served as a shelter from inside attacks on the city. Great Sidon, Little Sidon, powerful fortresses, pastures, cisterns and fortifications are all mentioned in the Assyrian king Sennacherib's recordings of his attacks on Sidon and nearby cities.

Today, the castle consists primarily of two towers connected by a wall. In the outer walls, Roman columns were used as horizontal reinforcements, a feature often seen in fortifications built on or near former Roman sites. The rectangular west tower to the left of the entrance is the better preserved of the two. There is a large vaulted room scattered with old carved capitals and rusting cannonballs. A winding staircase leads up to the roof, where there is a small, domed Ottoman-era mosque. From the roof, there is a view across the old city and fishing harbor. The east tower isn't as well preserved and was built in two phases; the lower part dates to the Crusader period, while the upper level was built by the Mamluks. There has also been evidence of the old Phoenician city being buried under the sea in the area surrounding the castle: structures of walls, columns, stairways, remains of buildings, statues and cisterns.

Denominations in numerals are in top right and lower left corners. In words - centered, at the bottom.


25 Pounds 1983

mussaylha fort mussaylha fort

The Mseilha Fort (Arabic: قلعة المسيلحة‎, translit. Qal‘at al-Msaylḥa) is a fortification situated north of the city of Batroun in Lebanon. The current fort was built by Emir Fakhreddine II in the XVII century to guard the route from Tripoli to Beirut. The fort is built on a long, narrow limestone rock near the Nahr el-Jawz River. Its walls are constructed with small sandstone blocks quarried from the nearby coast and built onto the edge of the limestone rock. The thickness of the walls ranges from 1.5 to 2 meters (4 to 6.5 feet). The larger limestone blocks are the only remains of an earlier structure probably built for the same defensive reason.

The fort's architectural design consists of two homogenous sections built in two separate phases. The fort is approached through a narrow path and small stairway cut into the northern side of the bedrock. A small platform precedes the low arched main gate, secured by two loopholes and a small opening in the ceiling above the entrance.

The main gate leads to a vaulted vestibule, followed by a narrow triangular courtyard, giving access to a small one meter (3 feet) wide passageway leading to the archery room of the west tower. At the southern side of the courtyard, two vaulted bays are constructed within a separate architectural block over large underground arched halls used as warehouses and cisterns. This part of the structure has a small apse oriented towards the Qibla (the direction of Mecca, which could have been used as a prayer room by the guards.

The more elevated part of the fort is access through the east side of the main courtyard. A doorway leading to a hall, followed by three vaulted rooms, gives access to the eastern tower. An internal stairway leads to the room on the first floor. This section is the most fortified and equipped part of the castle due to its strategic position controlling the entrance of the Nahr el-Jawz valley.

Following the collapse of the promontory of Ras Shekka in 551 CE, the coastal road linking the cities of Batroun, El-Heri and Tripoli completely disappeared, transforming the northern shoreline into a high sea cliff. Consequently, a new road bypassing the promontory from the east was necessary to ensure communication between Batroun and the North. Crossing the Nahr el-Jawz valley, this road turns around Ras ech-Chaqa'a promontory to reach the other side at a spot near El-Heri called Bab el-Hawa (meaning the "door of the wind"). Building edified strongholds along this new road was of great strategic and military importance in order to preserve security and ensure communication and traffic control. The Mseilha Fort was built for such purposes.

A number of scholars have studied the history and architecture of Mseilha. Some assume that the rock on which the fort stands was used since ancient times as a military position. However, the fort does not include in its current construction any element related to an earlier period, even the Crusades. The construction techniques, cutting methods, stone block sizes, low arched doors and windows, in addition to the other elements suggest the 17th century as the earliest period for the current structure to have been built. The work of several prominent historians and scholars confirms that the Mseilha Fort is not more than 400 years old. Nineteenth-century French historian Ernest Renan could not relate the architectural elements in Mseilha to anything earlier than the Middle Age. Paul Deschamps, a notable XX-century historian of Crusader architecture, confirmed the lack of any aspect of Crusader-era work in the fort. Jean de la Roque (a French traveler, 1661-1743) corroborates, after hearing from locals in 1689 that Mseilha was the work of Emir Fakhr ed-Dine II, the former sovereign of Lebanon from 1590-1635. This testimony came almost 50 years after Fakhr ed-Dine's death from locals who witnessed at first hand the fort's construction.

This account is also validated by local chronicles. For example, father Mansour al-Hattouny stated that around 1624, Emir Fakhr ed-Dine ordered Sheikh Abi Nader al-Khazen to build the fort north of Batroun. According to Tannous ach-Chidiaq, another local historian, al-Khazen later restored the fort in 1631, less than 10 years after its initial construction.

Therefore, the year 1624 is established by both historians and eyewitness reports as the construction date of Mseilha by Fakhr ed-Dine II. Further confirmation was attested by Ludwig Burckhardt, who visited the region in the early XIX-century, and dated the fort to a recent period.

Even if the strategic importance of the site was exploited since antiquity, the fort itself cannot be dated earlier that the XVII century.

This disproves the alternative hypothesis, according to which the Mseilha fort was given to the Genoese Embriaco family who ruled over Gibelet by Bertrand de Saint-Gilles in retribution of their service during the taking of Tripoli.

In 2007, restoration works was undertaken to make the site safe to visitors, by building a long fence around the citadel and providing several entrance and exit doors. The foundation of the staircase was consolidated and metal handrails were installed. Works also included landscaping, rain water drains installation to prevent water from leaking into the citadel and repaving the access road to the citadel from the highway nearby. The windmill located near the fort was also restored. Funded by USAID, these works are a continuation of a project conducted by SRI International-INMA to rehabilitate the fort, in cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture - Directorate General of Antiquities. The restoration of Mseilha, as well as subsequent promotion of the site by the national telecommunication company Ogero, led to a rise in the number of visitors.

Denominations in numerals are in top corners, in words - in lower left corner.