No country should be visited without visiting its capital and this definitely holds true for Lebanon. For most, Beirut breathes the spirit and has the dynamics of Lebanese life. It is marked by the scars of the Civil War and recent political developments, yet also represents the creation of events that bring people together and makes them move forward and forget about the past. Like every capital, Beirut has its annoyances. Its endless amount of traffic, the air pollution and the lack of green spaces, create a need to escape the city from time to time.
Beirut with its liberal character is one of the great capitals of the Middle East. Inhabited by about two million people, it is a city full of history, emotions and division. While life is celebrated in its many restaurants, bars and clubs, the city still carries its clear traces of war and street fighting.
History in Beirut started about 5.000 years ago, although little is left from this period. In 64 BC, Beirut became an important city of the Roman Empire and experienced a golden era during Byzantine times (395). In 551, Roman Beirut was completely destroyed by an earthquake accompanied by a tidal wave. It was only during and after World War I that Beirut regained its position, when most ancient quarters were demolished and replaced by oriental style buildings. At the beginning of the French mandate, in 1920, Beirut established itself as the 'Paris of the Middle East' and became the capital of Greater Lebanon. In 1982, Beirut was invaded by Israel, forcing the retreat of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In a short time, 20,000 people were killed and Beirut was left in ruins. Beirut suffered severely from the Civil War lasting until the end of 1990. After the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in 2005, the 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in the summer of 2006 again shook its ground, as did the recent assassination of Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan in October 2012.
To explore and find out about Beirut’s vibrations, allow yourself several days of wandering around its neighborhoods, to enjoy the mediterranean kitchen and experience a taste of its buzzing nightlife.