When in Beirut, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the horrendous traffic, the non-stop car horns, the chaotic flow of vehicles and people alike, the disorderly erected buildings, or the lack of any decent pavements. As such, the visitor risks missing the elegant old mansions which, though mostly dilapidated, still represent a mysterious, latent expression of the city’s hidden spirit.
Elongated Ottoman-style arches; broken windows; decorated facades; elaborately designed iron gates; semi-rotundas; unexpected signs of life; a few samples of art-deco: they all stand tall, surrounded by either modern houses – often of questionable aesthetics – or, even worse, by the heavily war-battered buildings whose gaping holes keep reminding of the recent conflicts and the relentless bloodshed.
The below photo-journey through the Al Hamra and Clemenceau districts of West Beirut is a tribute to the elegance and the secluded soul of the city which, hopefully, will not be eradicated but, instead, will be reserved as part of the Beirutis’ identity and inheritance.
Semi-cyclical balconies and columns are typical in several old buildings
Delve further into the charm of Lebanon by exploring the hidden treasures of the old town of Tripoli, or the twelve places any first-comer should visit; go story-hunting along the coastline, check the origins of the Citadel of Saint-Gilles or read a tale of love and betrayal in the Moussa Castle.