Liwan (Arabic: ليوان‎, from Persian eyvān) is a word used since ancient times into the present to refer to a long narrow-fronted hall or vaulted portal found in Levantine homes that is often open to the outside. An Arabic loanword to English, it is ultimately derived from the Persian eyvān, which preceded by the article al (“the”), came to be said as Liwan in Arabic and later, English.

In its simplest form, the history of the liwan dates back more than 2,000 years, when the liwan house was essentially a covered terrace, supported by retaining walls, with a courtyard in front.

In its more complex forms, the liwan house is composed of a large ceremonial entrance hall (liwan) at the front of the complex, divided into three sections, and flanked by two smaller liwans. The back of the house opens onto a columned peristyle courtyard from which the main room and the private apartments opposite can be accessed, with symmetry on either side of the central axis.

Mats and carpets are typically spread along the length of the floor of the liwan, and the mattresses and cushions along the length of the walls make up the diwan or divan seating area.

Types of liwan houses
Three-arched house or Central Hall House
One type of liwan house is the three-arched house or “Central Hall House”, as coined by Friedrich Ragette in 1974. It is also known as the “traditional house” or “Late-Ottoman Arab House” in Haifa or the “Beiruti House” in Mersin.

The 19th century Levantine model of the three-arched house with many regional variations is found in the coastal regions of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Israel and Turkey. A representative example of the liwan house commonly found in towns throughout the West Bank and Gaza is the Al Imam house in Hebron.

House of three arches or house of central hall
A type of liwan house is the house of three arches or house of central hall, term coined by Friedrich Ragette in 1974. It is also known as ‘Traditional house’, ‘ Late Ottoman Arab house ‘ in Haifa or ‘Casa Beirutí ‘ in Mersin .

The Levantine model of the house of three arches of the nineteenth century, with various regional variations can be found in the coastal regions of Lebanon , Syria , Palestine , Israel and Turkey .

As a prayer room
A liwan is also a prayer room that can be found in mosques ( haram or musalla ) or civil buildings. It is usually characterized by the plurality of arcades , giving the feeling of a “forest of columns”, although it is usually a covered space, which is accessed from the patio of the ablutions ( sahn ), responding in this case to a concept of peristyle Greco-Roman, a porticoed courtyard .

The Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo is famous for having a liwan with 380 columns that support its roof and as a civil building, we can point out the existing Liwanes in the Bimaristan of Nur ad-Din in Damascus .

Source From Wikipedia