I have to admit that I was not a Beirut enthusiast, I have been there many times over the years with my last visit in 2003, and always felt tired and anxious. It was always crowded, very noisy and somehow it felt incomplete. I might have held images from childhood that are no longer there or maybe I kept forgetting that it was a city in progress trying hard to rebuild itself after almost three decades of war. What I saw there this time was an amazing transformation after my seven year absence. I now think that Beirut (especially down town) is among the most beautiful cities.
There are still the areas that carry the scars of war, but they only serve to make the new, or renovated areas look even better. The juxtaposition of the very old and the very new is mesmerizing and very artistic adding a lot of authenticity to a city that could have easily been pulled down after the war and totally rebuilt from scratch. They chose to keep the old, rebuild it and add modern touches to show that this is an ancient city looking forward to the future. There is beauty and inspiration everywhere and the amount of detailing is amazing.
The Solidaire is the old city centre that was rebuilt and is now the heart of the city, with the best shops, restaurants and financial institutions located there. All of the following pictures are from that area.
The beautiful Hermes shop located in an old building left almost as is with a very modern glass structure on top.
All the buildings in the city centre are incredibly detailed, mostly very French looking but with hints of Islamic architecture such as the pointed Islamic arch and motifs like this one above.