Mythical place in Beirut, the Place des Martyrs or Place des Canons has a group of statues that have become a Symbol of the martyrs of Lebanon.
Commissioned in 1955, the first stone of the new Monument will be laid that year by the then President of the Republic, Camille Chamoun, in the center of the square to replace the previous structure which had been damaged and which is today. hui in the gardens of the Sursock Museum. Finally, the design of the work will come to the Italian sculptor Marino Mazzacurati will be commissioned in 1957 and inaugurated in 1960 under the mandate of Fouad Chéhad. He will also be the author of the statue of Riad el Solh, placed in the place of the same name.
The statue will include a group of 3 men at the foot of a woman representing freedom carrying the banner and showing the way.
The symbolic dimension of the statue of the Place des Canons was confirmed during the Civil War when the various statues were targeted by snipers.
One of the 3 men will even lose his arm.
Therefore, not only was it supposed to represent the martyrs executed by the Ottomans in 1915 and 1916, but many martyrs of this more recent conflict will recognize themselves in it.
A broad debate took place at the end of the war. Should this monument be replaced, restored identically or restored while leaving these wounds inflicted by the fratricidal conflict from 1975 to 1990. In the end, it is this 3rd option, however obvious, that will be chosen. It will then be entrusted to the Lebanese sculptor Issam Khairallah, who will repair it at USEK, to then be replaced at Place des Martyrs in 2004. It will once again become the symbol of Beirut and of the various events that have punctuated the capital and Lebanon since then.
Martyrs before martyrs
A vestige of the former Place des Martyrs de Beyrouth, erected in 1930 to commemorate the execution by the Ottoman authorities of Lebanese nationalists in this same place during World War I, this statue precedes the current statue of the Martyrs. It represents two mothers, a Christian and a Muslim, united in the pain of the death of their son, represented by a symbolic cinerary urn. Vandalized on September 9, 1948 by Salim Slim, journalist at Saout el Arab, who considered her “hideous”, she was disfigured at the level of the faces of the two women. Work of sculptor Youssef Hoyek, it is currently in the Gardens of the Sursock Museum.