Beirut, the Capital of Lebanon and its largest city, is a hub of culture and history. The city has survived the ravages of time and war, but there’s still much to see. Here are our suggestions for must-visit attractions in Beirut.
Looking for a place to shop in Beirut? The souks are your answer. An architectural wonder Downtown, the Beirut Souks are the hub of designer and mid-range brands. Walk around the popular shopping area, dine, peruse and maybe spend some money. Beirut is one of the Middle East’s fashion capitals, and this place is one of the reasons why.
An important landmark in Lebanese history, Martyrs’ Square is dedicated to those who were executed during Ottoman rule. It is also the traditional dividing line between East and West Beirut. First constructed in 1931, the monument has remained relevant due to the repeated political assassinations in Lebanon’s recent past.
In the heart of Beirut, Nijmeh Square was part of the extensive reconstruction Beirut underwent after the civil war. Home to the parliament, two cathedrals and a museum, the square is one of Beirut’s activity hubs. Grab a cup of coffee or a meal overlooking this square’s 1930’s Rolex clock.
A center of Beirut’s 1960’s intellectual activity, it is no surprise that this street was called the city’s Champs Elysees. It is a popular place with tourists and locals alike, who gather here to try to absorb the remnants of the intellectual city. Hamra is home to several bookshops, three universities (including the American University of Beirut) and a rich nightlife.
Pigeon Rocks, Raouche
Located in the sea by the historical Raouche, the Pigeon Rocks are a Lebanese natural treasure. In the area surrounding the rocks, evidence of ancient human existence in Lebanon has been found. Walk on Raouche’s Corniche and marvel at these amazing sights.
An abandoned hotel in the heart of Beirut, the Holiday Inn still stands as a monument to the destruction of the Lebanese Civil War. The hotel was gutted in 1975, at the start of the war. It was only functional for a year before becoming a battlefield. Today, the hotel is a reminder of what Beirut was.
A major contemporary art museum in Beirut and home of Lebanese culture, Sursock is a private villa-turned-attraction. The house itself is a marvel as it is the perfect example of Lebanon’s older architecture, having been built in the 19th century by the Sursock family.
Also known as the Government Palace, the Grand Serail is the Lebanese Prime Minister’s main base. The building itself is a marvel from the Ottoman Era, and is a must-visit for anyone wanting to learn about Beirut’s history.
A ruin in the heart of Beirut, Beit Beirut will be renovated, with construction starting soon. The house was built in 1932, and was know as the “Yellow House”. Ravaged by the civil war, the building was a sniper base because of its strategic location. Today, it stands as yet another result of the war’s devastation, and is set to become a cultural hub of Beirut.
American University of Beirut
Opened in 1866 with the approval of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the American University of Beirut is a landmark of Lebanese society. Ranked first in the country and among the top 300 in the world, the 150 year old university is home to many intellectual historical sites and is home to an archaeological museum.
Located in Downtown Beirut, marvel at this historical landmark. The ruins haven’t been functional as baths for a long time, but it is easy to imagine what life in the Roman Empire may have looked like.
An upscale residential area in Beirut, Saifi Village is definitely worth walking through. Built in the French Colonial style, the village is home to several art galleries and an upscale farmers’ market.
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Also referred to as the Blue Mosque, this marvel is located in Downtown Beirut. It was built after the donation of the Late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and continues to be a symbol of his work. The mosque is only one of the achievements of this late Prime Minister. He shifted his business focus to rebuild Downtown Beirut to what it is today, provided students with educational scholarships and encouraged foreign investment in Lebanon.
St Nicholas Stairs
Also known as the Escalier de l’Art, these stairs connect Rue Gouraud (in Gemmayzeh) and Rue Sursock. The site is a shortcut to the Sursock Museum and is a popular tourist destination.
Beit Ed-Dine Palace
Home to a museum and an annual music festival, this palace is worth your time. Construction began in 1788, and took 30 years. Legend has it that the prince had the architect’s hands cut off so that the palace could not be duplicated. Visit this one-of-a-kind marvel, which reflects a lot of what it means to be Lebanese.
The National Museum of Beirut
The main archaeological museum in Lebanon, the National Museum is home to many treasures. The collection rranges from the prehistoric period through the Roman period and into the Arab era. The museum itself is a marvel as it was destroyed in the civil war, and fully restored in 2011.
Our Lady of Lebanon- Harissa
A pilgrimage site in Lebanon, Harissa is home to Our Lady of Lebanon. The site is a shrine in honor of Mary, Mother of Jesus. The giant monument resides over Jounieh, and watches over the area. The church and shrine areas are a must-see for anyone visiting Lebanon, and are on the way to Beirut.
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