Saturday, October 1, 2011
Beirut, Lebanon - What to see & do
AFDC - Association for Forest Development and Conservation
Established in 1993 to promote sustainable conservation of natural resources, AFDC runs a variety of ecotourism projects and activities. Its programs include trails for hiking and biking, camping, and special outdoor and educational activities for children. AFDC is teaming with Wild Expeditions, an outdoor adventure company, to offer rappelling and other activities. Its facilities, which also include hostel-style lodging, are located in a pine forest ten minutes away from the Al Shouf Cedar Reserve, at an altitude of 700 meters.
Al Madina Theater
Located in Clemenceau, the Al Madina Theater is relatively new, opened in 1994 by a well-known Lebanese actress, Nidal al-Achkar.
Al Omari Mosque (Beirut)
One of the first buildings to be restored following the war, the Al Omari Mosque dates from 1291. In this year the Mamluks rested control of Beirut from the Crusaders and converted the former 12th century Crusader church (Cathedral of St. John) into the great mosque. In Omari mosque, visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
American University of Beirut (AUB) Museum
One of two archaeological museums in Beirut, the AUB Museum was founded in 1868 with a donation from General Cesnola, the American Counsel in Cyprus. It is the third oldest museum in the Near East and houses a collection of artifacts from the early Stone Age to the Islamic period. Some special collections include the museum s 10,000 coins from various time periods, Phoenician figurines and ancient engravings and clay tablet writings.
Ancient Tell of Beirut
Recent archaeological excavation revealed evidence of the existence of Beirut as a city during Phoenician times. Ramparts and other settlements remains were discovered.
Atelier d'Art Fabriano
Atelier dArt Fabriano is a society established to promote art in Lebanon. The society organized a design contest in 1965 which has now become an annual tradition in all Lebanese schools. The society also offers individuals art and art history lessons.
Beirut Central District - Solidere
The trendy Solidere area of downtown Beirut has been beautifully restored and is a center for family outings, cafes, shopping, and leisurely walks. The government has paid special attention to rebuilding this area since the war, and today the buildings are magnificant architectural gems, with yellow stonework, arabesque archways, and wrought-iron scrollwork. The cobblestone pedestrian streets are lined with shops selling unique traditional crafts, trendy designer fashions, jewelry, and many other things. There are over 70 restaurants and sidewalk cafes, which are popular places to spend a warm evening. At the center of Solidere is the Place dEtoile and Clock Tower, a popular area for children to ride bikes and play while their parents relax at a nearby cafe. Solidere is also home to several Roman ruins sites that have been uncovered and preserved, several notable mosques and churches, and the National Parliament Building.
Beirut Dance Studio
The Beirut Dance Studio offers classical ballet classes for children and adults. It is also home to the Beirut Dance Company, a contemporary dance company based on classical ballet training unique in Lebanon.
Beirut Roman Baths
The ruins of this extensive Roman Bath complex are located just west of the Solidere (Beirut Central District) region, below the Grand Serail. Discovered in the 1960s and restored in the late-1990s, the site contains the remnants of the brick vaults and columns that supported the floors, allowing hot air to circulate. The ruins are surrounded by landscaped terraces and Mediterranean-style gardens. Open air concerts and events are frequently held here.
The Beirut Theater is known for its avante garde approach, interweaving the dramatic arts (theater, dance, music) with multimedia. The theater showcases contemporary productions from Lebanon and abroad in Arabic, French and English. The theater is managed by the Association SHAMS.
CaDanse offers classical ballet and modern dance classes, as well as tai chi and gymnastics.
Cathedral of St. Elias (Greek Catholic)
The Greek-Catholic Cathedral of St. Elias was built in the mid-19th century and was famous for its marble iconostasis. The cathedral is awaiting renovation following wartime destruction.
Cathedral of St. George (Greek Orthodox)
Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, this cathedral is considered the oldest functioning church in Beirut. It was built in the 17th century. The cathedral has undergone renovation since the war, and the rich frescoes formerly covering the walls of the church are gradually being restored. The cathedral is located in the Solidere region, on the Place dEtoile.
Cathedral of St. George (Maronite)
The neoclassical style cathedral was built in 1888 under the Bishop Debs, who utilized Roman columns from the temple of Deir El Qalaa. Suffering heavy destruction during the war, the cathedral was restored and reopened under the Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir on St Georges Day in April 2000. The church contains a repaired painting of St. George on his horse, which is the work of Delacroix. It is located on the edge of the Solidere region in Beirut. There are Roman ruins located to the left of and behind the cathedral, including a group of five columns that were part of a grand colonnaded avenue in Roman-era Beirut.
Emir Assaf Mosque: Al Saray Mosque
This mosque was built by the Turkish Emir Mansour Assaf (1572-1580). It is located opposite the Municipal Building at the entrance to the Sursock market in Central Beirut. It is also known as the Saraya mosque, meaning “palace,” because of its proximity to the palace of Emir Assaf. Note: According to Islamic tradition, non-Muslims are typically not allowed to enter mosques or sacred sites. However, non-Muslim visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
Provider of educational and entertainment for children 3-12 years of age, including cooking, drama, computer and video games, and birthday parties.
Kidshop & Mustard
Bookshop for kids offering reading sessions, story telling, and birthday parties.
Kyriakos Freres Marine Diffusion
Sells and rents equipment and wetsuits for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and other water sports. Also offers scuba diving lessons and swimming lessons.
L'Arche de Noe
A library that offers educational games, activities, and storytelling geared towards children.
Le Club des 2 Clowns
A club that specializes in entertainment for children. Activities include puppet shows, games, arts and crafts, magic shows, and birthday parties.
Offers scuba diving courses, including PIDI and SSI certification.
Lifestyles Health Club & Jumping Jungle
Lifestyles is a state-of-the-art gym equipped with a pool, sauna, jacuzzi, workout equipment, and various classes. Spa facilities are also available which include facials, massage, etc. Visitors can pay a daily fee to enter. The facility also organizes chidrens birthday parties via its Jumping Jungle.
A club for children where they can learn how to make crafts and use the computer. The club is also a venue for birthday parties.
This university theater opened in 1997. Receiving international theatrical troupes, as well as grooming homegrown talent, the theater is contributing to the cultural rebirth of the city.
Mosque of Ain El Mreisseh
This mosque was built in 1888 by Abdallah Bayham, an important political, social and religious figure, and Sheikh Mahmoud Al Hebri, a social and religious figure. Their names are found on a placard inside the mosque. It was renovated in 1951, preserving its traditional aspects. Note: According to Islamic tradition, non-Muslims are typically not allowed to enter mosques or sacred sites. However, non-Muslim visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
Mosque of Al Khodr: Qaratin
The name of the mosque is translated as the "Mosque of St. George." The name comes from the legend of St. George who slayed a dragon terrorizing the city and saved the daughter of the king.
Mosque of Al Majedieh
This was a fortress and towers in Beirut before it was transformed into a mosque during the reign of Sultan Abed Al Majed (1839-1861). It was renovated following the end of the civil war. Note: According to Islamic tradition, non-Muslims are typically not allowed to enter mosques or sacred sites. However, non-Muslim visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
Mosque of Mossaitbeh
The construction of this mosque was funded by Ahmad Hamdi Basha, the governor of Syria, and the citizens of Beirut. The mosque was built in 1884 during the Ottoman rule of Sultan Abdul El Hamid II (1876-1909). Note: According to Islamic tradition, non-Muslims are typically not allowed to enter mosques or sacred sites. However, non-Muslim visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.
National Museum of Beirut
Built in 1937, the National Museum of Beirut houses antiquities and treasures from all over Lebanon, dating from prehistoric times through the Ottoman period. Located on the Green Line during the war, the museum building and some of its artifacts were severely damaged or destroyed. Following the end of the war (1991), funds were raised and restoration work took place between 1995-2000. The museum was reopened in 1999. With a rich collection covering an expansive time period, the museum is a “must-see.”
A group of natural arched rock formations off the coast of Beirut. You can view the rocks from the top of the cliffs at the southwestern end of the Corniche, in Raouche. A walk down the steep, 100m path from the Corniche, to the bottom of the chalky cliffs, offers a wonderful view of these natural monuments draped by the Mediterranean Sea. They are especially beautiful at sunset. In the summertime, you can take a tour in a small boat to view the rocks from close-up.
Planet Discovery is a childrens science museum that offers hands-on and interactive exhibits for 3- to 15-year-olds. The exhibits focus on building structures, physical phenomena, finished houses, a childrens village, and a traffic education garden. The Museum also hosts special cultural and artistic workshops, theater, marionettes, juggling, magic shows, story-telling, and singing. Exhibits are in Arabic, French, English, and braille.
Pyramide Des Arts
Painting courses geared towards all age groups and all levels. Short and long painting sessions, including the topics of decorative arts, restoration of oil paintings, and copies of masterpieces.
Fun and learning center for children, ages 6 months to 14 years old. The Fun Center has a variety of play activities, including a large maze, shadow wall room, obstacle course, singing, dancing, acting, and games. The Learning Center includes a library, computer room, arts and crafts, and science and nature activities. Special events include Halloween celebrations, a junior business fair, teen boom parties, birthday parties, and summer camps. There is a restaurant on the premises with meals that appeal to both adults and children.
Riviera Yacht Club
Boat rentals, water skiing, jet skiing, scuba diving instruction (NAUI, IANTD, TDI, PADI certified), as well as a basketball court and outdoor aerobics. Dining facilities include a seafood restaurant, snack/coffee shop, grill and bar.
This group organizes rafting and kayaking trips every weekend throughout the year on white water ranging from class 1 to class 5, depending on the skill level of the visitor. These excursions include a lot of adventure, food, and camping.
A private beach which also has an outdoor swimming pool. Visitors may pay a daily entrance fee to access it.
St. Georges Yacht Club
A premier Beirut club and hotel. Daily membership or annual membership are offered. Daily membership allows access to the club pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts and jet skis.
St. Louis Capuchin Church
The Capuchin missionaries built this church in 1864. The façade is decorated with a rose. Holy mass is recited in French. The church was the first monument to be restored after the war in the city center of Beirut.
This art museum was created in 1961 when Nicholas Ibrahim Sursock bequeathed his home and all its contents to the City of Beirut. The home, itself, is a beautiful example of 19th century grand Italianate architecture. The museum has frequent exhibits and one of its rooms is dedicated to the exhibition of Lebanese artists’ work, as specified in the terms of Sursock’s gift. The museum is currently undergoing an expansion and in 1999, the museum entered into a cooperative agreement with the George Pompidou Center in Paris.
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