The Grand Ladies Of Lebanon

By: Alissa Haddad

Lebanon is extra special because her four grand ladies continue to bewitch and entrance people from all over the world with their ancient secrets and their ageless beauty. The five grand ladies referred to are her eternal cities - Beirut, Tyre, Byblos, Sidon, and Tripoli. The country may be in turmoil, but the world continues to hope that these graceful ladies will not be harmed.

The Capital

Beirut is the geographic and economic hub of the country. It strongly retains influences from the French. Foch Allenby, the Central District area is the favorite of crowds. Here you find a mix of different architecture with walls molded from yellow stone that echoes the art influenced by bygone eras of the Ottoman, French, and Italian style.

The young and old shop for trinkets at the Souk al Barghout, a flea market that draw crowds of thousands - both local shoppers and curious tourists. Here you can find jewelry, antiques, handicrafts, and paintings. The flea market is like a wonderful box that holds colorful and assorted treasures.

In the evening, people take long walks along Foch Allenby's cobbled streets, ride their bikes, and drink cups of coffee in quaint cafes. Famous Lebanese wines overflow in the local pubs. The outdoor restaurants are teeming with diners and people revel into the night.

In the infamous Rue Minet El Hosn, people promenade in the lazy afternoons. They take the sights of interesting and fabulous facades of hotels and old buildings bearing influences of western and eastern cultures. The Rue Minet El Hosn was the stomping ground for the civil war that ravaged Beirut in 1975.

Minet El Hosn is swamped with big name hotels like Normandie, Alcazar, Phoenicia, Holiday Inn, Palm Beach, and St. George. If you go to Beirut, check out these hotels and get the best service to be found in this part of the globe.

Where East Meets West

In Tyre, marvel at the white sugar sand beach, sparkling waters, and the breathtaking sceneries, adding up to any visitors' enjoyment of Lebanon's beaches. Tourists and locals alike enjoy scuba diving and fishing. Swimmers love the warm, pristine waters. Nearby, the woodlands provide a good hunting ground. Relaxing in this ancient but bustling seaside city gives you that feeling that you're looking at the same sea famous biblical characters crossed in their ancient vessels.

Byblos is the oldest inhabited area in Lebanon, dating back 7000 years. Once a mighty province ruled by kings, it is now a busy metropolis with a flourishing trade. Byblos is an archeologist's heaven. The old buildings and Egyptian architecture are still around to fascinate tourists with their link to a proud and ancient past.

Another must-see place is Sidon. This is the place where Noah and his family landed after the Great Flood. The romantic ruins from the Crusader Period are the Castle of Sea constructed by the Knights of St. John, while the Castle of St. Louis or Land Castle sits atop the acropolis of what was once a Phoenician stronghold.

Tripoli in Northern Lebanon draws tourists to its ancient castles and the Fortress of Saint Gilles. The fortress was built in 12 BC but was later remodeled by the Mamluks and the Ottomans. There are 45 registered historical buildings that history buffs shouldn't miss. Tripoli was also once a ship-building center and later the hub for learning.

Lebanon still beckons the outside world. Go and experience the converging cultures of east and west in its famous cities. The grand ladies of await you.

Travel and Leisure
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