From civil war to civilization

Beirut Travel Blog

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A reminder of the civil war (Beirut; Lebanon)

Hi folks, and a warm welcome to Beirut, a city which has weathered the storm for so long, that you might be forgiven for assuming that its' remaining fragile infrastructure after the 16 year long civil war could have easily crumbled under its own weight. Well, the Lebanese are way too forward-thinking, and the plan of reconstruction has clearly yielded some impressive results which make modern-day Beirut a city of stylish features and then some. In terms of visuals, a great place to commence this city tour is the Sursock museum, whose exterior design (a 1912 villa) hints at the interior which showcases both Lebanese and international modern art. Located slightly east of downtown Beirut, this spot is also a prime location from which to embark upon a day-long city tour on foot.

The Sursock Museum (Beirut; Lebanon)
Nearby Place de l'Etoile contains a cluster of sights of major significance and beauty which makes the whole area a must-visit place, and one spot in particular, the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, is so striking that it would not look out of place in the main tourist zone of Istanbul. Almost immediately adjacent to this is Martyr's Square, where a statue commemorates the 'patently obvious' perhaps in ways which suggest that all-out civil wars yield heroes, but come at an overall price which outlines the modern-day Lebanese approach to peacekeeping (armed guards on street corners, well-policed areas of the city). The Beirut clock tower is iconic and is located in a square which once throbbed with life, but is now something of an architectural showcase, albeit to a backdrop of mostly curious visitors only.
The city's most prized mosque (Beirut; Lebanon)
The Corniche and Zaitunay bay are areas of modern development where Beirut's new money is bandied about ostentatiously, hence the luxury yachts moored in the harbourfront area, and the city's main shopping drag, the Hamra, is an ideal area in which to be based for easy access to the beating heart of Beirut which will make your visit come alive somewhat. By far the city's most renowned and appreciated natural attraction is known as Pigeon rocks, and is located in the westernmost area known as Raouche, essentially a rock formation just off the coast which forms a kind of mini-archway jutting out of the ocean. The shopping culture is well-represented in a city of this standing to a degree to which you might expect, and the most recent addition to their canon is the slick-looking ABC Verdun mall, located in the area of the same name (Verdun), and a worthy addition to the gamut of pre-established Beirut shopping plazas.
Emphasis here is on style (Beirut; Lebanon)
On a similarly upmarket scale, the enclave of commerce known as 'Beirut Souks' is bound to impress, even as a casual visitor, as the range of stores and eateries appears to defy the categorization of a regular 'souk', where independent traders vie for trade in a warren of maze-like shop-lined alleyways, and the essence of Arabia being all-pervasive. One of Beirut's biggest draw cards is its nightlife scene, and when night falls, Beirutis and visitors alike congregate at one of a number of the city's famed nightspots in order to revel in terrific clubbing atmospheres to the backdrop of world-class sound systems. Beirut is very much a city of districts, and each district seems to have some kind of theme attached to it, art in 'Saifi village' to name but one example. The best approach appears to be to research sufficiently into the city's urban make-up, and plot a route which could well result in your very own preferred version of Beirut making itself apparent along the way. For a city once synonymous with gunfire, bloodshed and all-round volatility, there is no greater insight into the power and persuasive force of reconstruction than seeing modern-day Beirut and all of its trappings unfold in ways like this.

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A reminder of the civil war (Beiru…
A reminder of the civil war (Beir…
The Sursock Museum (Beirut; Lebano…
The Sursock Museum (Beirut; Leban…
The citys most prized mosque (Bei…
The city's most prized mosque (Be…
Emphasis here is on style (Beirut;…
Emphasis here is on style (Beirut…
Beirut
photo by: vulindlela