A Guide to Uncovering Beirut’s Complex Personality
Posted on October 22, 2012 by sguese
Lebanon’s capital is not easy to pinpoint. The Mediterranean port city of Beirut is a mix of old and new, where you should either be prepared to party or spend your time taking in historic colonial relics and a rich art scene. It is a city of bitter memories and yet one that is trying to live for the moment. Despite frequent instability, Beirut is alive and well. If you need help getting to know this complex city, snag your car hire in Beirut and get busy partaking in these activities, ones that showcase this city’s complex personality.
Marvel at Al-Omari Mosque
Visitors to Beirut have the chance to step inside one of the city’s layers of history. The Al-Omari Mosque was first the 12th century Church of St John the Baptist of the Knights of Hospitallers. The Mamlucks later converted the sturdy, dark stone Crusader church into a mosque. They also built the city’s original souks. Visitors to the mosque should be sure to marvel at its ornate wooden balcony and huge chandelier.
See the treasures within the National Museum of Beirut
The National Museum of Beirut almost lost its treasures. The staff saved the collection from the destruction of civil war. Visitors should be grateful as the museum is home to an impressive collection of archaeological artifacts, statues and sarcophagi. Exhibits organize by prehistory to the Mamluk period. Some of its highlights include a collection of Byzantine gold jewelry and famous glided bronze Phoenician statues. However most come to see the Neolithic pebble idol from Byblos. It is thought to date back to 9000 B.C. and be one of the earliest representations on the human form found in Lebanon.
Stroll The Corniche
All of Beirut can perhaps best be seen on a stroll of the city’s Corniche. The favorite promenade spot is where families and couples stroll. A number of cafes also set up along this stretch of the city so that you can grab a coffee and watch the world go by. The Corniche presents a cross section of Beirut life, especially on Saturday nights. Many bring their own chairs to take in the scene of vendors selling their hot nuts, corn, bread and coffee while pole fishermen hope for a catch.
Bask in the Roman Baths
Beirut’s layers of history are perhaps most apparently at the Roman Baths. It is a scene you will only find in Beirut where expertly restored Roman ruins stand in the middle of a bustling modern business district. The baths take on their stunning appearance thanks to extensive renovations. The area has been terraced so that it now resembles a bit of a park of the ancient variety.
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