What Was Beirut Called in Ancient Times?

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history that dates back to ancient times. Its strategic location on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean made it a vital center for trade and commerce for centuries.

But what was Beirut called in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The Early History of Beirut

Beirut was originally known as Berytus, derived from the Greek word “βηρυτός” (bērūtós), meaning “wells.” The city was founded around 3000 BC by the Phoenicians, a seafaring people who dominated trade in the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age.

The Phoenician Era

During the Phoenician era, Berytus was an important trading center for textiles, spices, and precious metals. The city was also renowned for its law school, which attracted scholars from all over the Mediterranean world. In fact, Berytus was one of the few cities in the Roman Empire to have a law school outside of Italy.

The Roman Era

In 64 BC, Berytus came under Roman rule and became a prosperous Roman colony. The city’s strategic location made it an important military stronghold and trading post between Rome and its eastern provinces. During this time, Berytus flourished as a center of learning and culture.

The Byzantine Era

After the fall of Rome, Berytus became part of the Byzantine Empire. The city continued to thrive as an important center for trade and commerce until it was destroyed by earthquake in 551 AD.

The Modern Era

After centuries of decline and destruction, Beirut began to recover in the early 19th century under Ottoman rule. The city became an important center for European traders and missionaries, and by the late 19th century, it had become the largest city in Lebanon.

The French Mandate

In 1920, Beirut became part of the French Mandate of Lebanon. During this time, the city underwent a period of rapid modernization and development. The French introduced new infrastructure, including roads, schools, hospitals, and government buildings.


Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943, and Beirut became the capital of the new nation. The city continued to grow and prosper throughout the 20th century, becoming an important center for culture, commerce, and education in the Middle East.


In conclusion, Beirut has had many names throughout its long and storied history. From its ancient Phoenician roots as Berytus to its modern incarnation as a vibrant metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, Beirut has always been a city of great importance and significance. Its rich history can still be seen today in its architecture, culture, and traditions.