A tour of Downtown with Zawarib
Beirut’s central Downtown district has a variety of atmospheres from the lively to the serene. The neighboring Saifi Village is for daytime wandering; despite being surrounded by major roads, it’s a tranquil bubble in the hear t of the city. Lebanese guid
Say goodbye to the noise of Beirut and clear your mind at Balima Café ( 1 – 01 985295), before entering Nada Debs ( 2 – 01 999002, nadadebs.com), a contemporary home design boutique that uses Middle Eastern craf t, and Bokja ( 3 – 01 975576, bokjadesign.com) – a design and craf t studio. Tajalliyat Art Gallery ( 4 – 01 987205, tajalliyat.com) and Randa Tabbah Contemporary Jewelry ( 5 – 01 975030, signumrt.com) are also worth a visit.
Vick Vanlian’s ( 6 – 01 983962, vickvanlian.com) snazzy window designs will add some complimentary pizzazz to your day. Next door, Meat The Fish ( 7 – 05 441205, 01 993606, meatthefish.com) of fers a welcome break with their exceptional seafood, fish and meat products and daily specials. Then pop into the handmade leather goods shop of renowned local designer Johnny Farah ( 8 – 01 974808, johnnyfarah.com).
Around the corner, Harry’s Bar ( 9 – 01 996600, Harr ysbarbeirut), located on the road where the old tram used to pass, of fers succulent Italian food with great ambience. Make your way carefully across the busy junction overlooking Martyrs’ Square and admire the detailed work of Al Amine Mosque ( 10), Downtown’s newest, and fur ther along visit the St Georges Greek Orthodox Church ( 11) with its underground cr ypt museum.
A walk through Downtown is full of visual stimuli, not least the archeological remains of its Roman Baths ( 12), discovered and excavated dur ing reconstruction work af ter Lebanon’s Civil War in the 1990s. The top of the steps of fers a fantastic view of the Serail - the government building and its beautiful architecture. If still in relax mode, book yourself a massage at U Energy ( 13 – 03 090888, uenergy.me), located of f a quiet courtyard.
Beirut Souks, originally the histor ical souks of the city that prevailed for centur ies, now modernized, hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Make sure to visit dur ing the month of December where a bundle of joyful Chr istmas choirs, concer ts and children’s shows and activities take place.
As you begin to get hungr y, savor a succulent burger at Brgr.co ( 14 – 01 333511, brgr.co) in Beirut Souks. Foch Street and Allenby Street used to be the main routes in and out of the city’s por t dur ing Roman times. Once satisfied with the hustle and bustle, hop into a ser vicecab and request to be dropped at the Beirut Towers facing All Saints Church near the Corniche. Over there, Ayyam Gallery ( 15 – 01 374450, ayyamgallery.com) can of fer a culture fix with the works of some of the best contemporar y ar tists of the region on display.
As the sun begins to dip make your way to Bar Three Sixty ( 16 – 01 971111, legray.com) to enjoy a cocktail coupled with a panoramic view of the city. For more fun under the stars cross over to the Samir Kassir Gardens ( 17) and hop into Wall Street Bar & Grill ( 18 – 76 997992, wallstlb) where music and smiles collide in perfect harmony.