The traditional soap industry in Tripoli-Lebanon is one of the oldest
industries in the city. Major families in Tripoli like " Zouk " and " Adra
" had their own soap factories that produced hand made soap over the years. In
Tripoli we call the soap factory " Al-Masbaneh " .
All main components of Tripoli's soap
is being brought from the Olive trees located on the top hills of Tripoli. There is
different kinds of soap that varies in shape,odor and color ... the most famous type is
the one made from " Zeit Al Zeitoun " and also the one with perfume added to it
" Al Sabou Al Mouattar ". The soap passes by different manufacturing phases and
the hardest one is called " Soap Shaping " or in Arabic " Nahet Al Saboun
" and this process is made manually using a knife.
A well known historical place in
Tripoli related to that industry is " Khan As Saboun
Soap Khan ( Khan Al-Saboun )
The Khán as-Sáboun (Soap Khan) was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century by
Yusuf al-Saifi, pasha of Tripoli . Originally it was intended to serve as a
military barracks to garrison Ottoman troops and it was purposely built in the center of
the city to enable the pasha to control any uprising. It is a large imposing rectangular
structure with two story arcaded corridors running around a fountain courtyard. The outer
walls had a number of loopholes and arrow slits for defense purposes. In front of the
building was an arched portal, flanked by stone benches for the pashas guards. A
white marble plaque commemorates the building of this splendid military barracks of
During the battle of Anjar, Yusuf
Pasha was taken prisoner. When Tripoli fell to Fakhr-ed-Din, the Ottoman garrison fled to
join his routed forces in Syria. The army of Fakhr-ed-Din occupied the barracks briefly
but in the years that followed the building stood empty and useless.
To the inhabitants of Tripoli this seemed to be a
great waste so a petition was sent to Deir al-Qamar, the residence of Fakhr-ed-Din, with
the request to turn the building into a soap factory and warehouse. From that day until
the present time the Ottoman barracks have served as Tripolis flourishing Soap Khan
or Khãn as-Sáboun..