Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is also the largest city in the country. Located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains, it is also one of the oldest cities in the region, having been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. Beirut is mentioned in Egyptian records dated back to the 2nd millennium BCE, but it first rose to prominence as a Roman colony in the 14th c. BCE, with the original city built between the hills of al-Ashrafiyyah and al-Muṣayṭibah. This city was largely destroyed by the earthquake and tidal wave that occurred in the region in 551 CE. By the time the Muslims occupied Beirut in 635/14 AH, they essentially needed to build it anew.
Initially, it was a small garrison town, but the rise of maritime trade in the 10th c. revived its fortunes under Fatimid rule. In 1110/504 AH it was conquered by Crusaders, then by Saladin 70 years later, only to be lost after his death a decade after that. In 1291 the Mamluks drove out the Crusaders for the last time. The Ottomans conquered Syria, including Lebanon, in the early 16th c. Beirut began developing close commercial ties with Europe in the 19th c.
For a modern history of Beirut, starting with this period, see: