Beirut is a large city and you can’t manage to see the main sights in a day. Especially since there are a lot of ‘hidden’ gems which are not in the old centre. After concentrating on our first day at the centre of Beirut and concluding the day with a free walking tour, we spent the second day around Beirut all by ourselves.
We started the with the American University of Beirut which was right around the corner from our hotel. Unfortunately the campus is off limits for tourists on Sunday, so we only go a picture from the entrance gate. Looking at it I almost wished I could go back to uni and party a bit in Beirut. It does look like a fun place. It is though a very respected university and that already since 1866.
From there we took a service taxi and got a lift to the Sursock Museum. We were less interested in the museum itself than in the building. The villa is from 1912 and combines Venetian and Ottoman elements. Honestly, it’s so beautiful and I was a bit sad that the museum converted a lot of rooms to work with the contemporary art collection. The original house must have been like a palace. You can get a glimpse into the past in a couple of rooms though. The museum itself turned out to be way more entertaining than we expected.
From there we walked to the National Museum of Beirut. In doing so we crossed the mostly Christian part of Beirut. I think before the civil war there were no ‘religious’ districts but during and after it kind of separated. In any case some of the houses in this area are beautiful old buildings, with gorgeous details. But most of them look as they need some kind of renovation.
And then we passed a cemetery which was so beautiful, with sculptures within and an atmosphere of peace and calmness. Looking at it now on the map I can see that it is for the Jews, Christians and Protestants. I love that in death we are all the same.
And then finally we reached the National Museum of Beirut. The exhibition here is outstanding and if you are into history, this is a museum which you can’t miss. There are so many artifacts that you really need to plan enough time to see it all.
Like this sarcophagi from a Phoenician king which looks already pretty special. But then when you look closer you can see the writing. And this is the real deal. The Phoenician alphabet is the oldest which assigns letters to both consonants and vowels.
Maybe this is really really only for history geeks. On the other hand I love to read as well. And what would we do without a proper alphabet. There would be no blog. See, I get you there.
In the Chalcolithic period, from 4500 to 3200 BC, the funerary practices were different. So big and pompous sarcophagi but simpler terracotta jars. Like this one.
Last but not least what you have to see in Beirut are the Raouche or Pigeon rocks. We arrived there around sunset and it is clearly popular with the locals as well. Lots of picture takers and people milling about. So we just had coffee in one of the many places along the Corniche and enjoyed the view from there. Yours, Pollybert