Downtown Beirut is the central district of Beirut, with its outdoor cafes restaurants and high end designer stores. The inner area around Nejmeh Square is pedestrian-only. Ashrafieh is to its East, while Hamra, Ras Beirut, Manara and Rawcheh to its West. The Beirut Marina (the Cornich starting point) is only a short walk away. Some complaints are that the area is over-priced, and that it caters more to tourists from the Persian Gulf than to the locals.
Getting to downtown from other parts of Beirut or one of the bus stations is easy. Simple hop in any taxi/Service and ask for either "Downtown" or "Solidere"
- Nejmeh Square The recently renovated central square, with the famous clock tower built during the French Mandate.
- Martyr's Square synonymous with political demonstrations, Martyr's Square has a very rich history, and is home to the bullet-holed martyr's statue. Occasionally out-door art exhibitions are featured here.
- Solidere District The French Mandate historic city center, which was destroyed during the civil war, and recently renovated and transformed into a chic high-end shopping and cafe quarter.
Saifi Village: Quartier des Arts. This is a newly built neighborhood just east of downtown with traditional architecture and shops featuring design oriented products such as fashion, decor, and furniture. On Saturdays, the Souk el Tayeb, farmer's market is a great place to buy local, organic produce.
Museums and galleries
- Planet Discovery, Omar El Daouk Street, (01)980650. Children's Science Museum. Mon-Thu 9AM-3PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-7PM.
- Robert Mouawad Museum, ☎ +961 1 980970, fax: +961 1 976027, e-mail: email@example.com. Army road, Zokak el Blat, Private historic art museum that includes ancient books, pottery, carpets, religious icons, antiques, jewelery.
- Aida Cherfan Gallery (Fine Art), 62, Hussein el Ahdab Street, Nejmeh Square Sector.11, Downtown Beirut, ☎ +961 1 983111, +961 1 983222, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM.
- Galerie Epreuve D'Artiste, Quartier des Arts, Saifi Village, Downtown Beirut (east of Nejmeh Square), ☎ +961 1 975030, e-mail: email@example.com.
Roman and Byzantine structures
- Roman Berytus Columns - A line of five columns, discovered in 1963. These columns, found to the left of St. George Maronite Cathedral, were once part of the grand colonnade of Roman Berytus.
- Roman Exedra - Discovered west of the St. Georges Maronite Cathedral, this semi-circular cultural building was moved in 1963 to Blvd. Charles Helou near the Eastern entrance to the modern port.
- Roman Baths - Behind Bank Street are remains of the Roman Bath which once served the city’s population. Originally discovered in 1968-69, it underwent a thorough cleaning and further excavation in 1995-1997.
- Roman Basilica Colonnade - Found in the 1940s between Nejmeh Square and the Great Mosque, this five column colonnade is part of the Roman Basilica. The columns were later erected across from the National Museum on Damascus Street.
- Byzantine floor mosaics These mosaics came from a Byzantine church of the 5th century A.D. They were moved from Khalde South of Beirut to a site near the National Museum in the 1950s.
Crusader, Mamluke and Ottoman structures
- Medieval Wall - An excavated wall dating from Crusader and Mamluke times can be seen North of Weygand Street along the old Patriarch Howayyek Street.
- Crusader Castle - A large Crusader land castle once stood near the present port area. Excavations in 1995 revealed a large well-preserved section of the foundation wall complete with Roman column drums used as bondstones or reinforcement.
- The Grand Serail - Constructed in 1853 as an Ottoman military barracks, this building was the headquarters of the French governor during the French Mandate. After Lebanon’s Independence, it became the Governmental Palace.
- Ottoman Military Hospital - Just in front of the Grand Serail, this large building was constructed in 1860 as a military hospital. From the French Mandate Period until the 1960s it served as Law Courts. Completely renovated, it now houses the Council for Development and Reconstruction.
- Ottoman Clock Tower - Located near the Grand Serail, this tower was built in 1897 and restored in 1994.
- Cathedral of Saint Georges - Until the recent war in Lebanon this Greek-Orthodox church, built in 1767, was the oldest functioning church in Beirut. The decorations on its walls were lost during the war. The cathedral has recently been restored.
- Cathedral of Saint Elias - This mid 19th century Greek-Catholic church with its vaulted interior was once decorated with a marble iconostasis.
- The Saint Louis Church of the Capucins Inaugurated in 1863, this church served the foreign community of the Latin rite in Beirut.
- The Evangelical Church - Church built in 1867 by a group of Evangelical Anglo-American missionaries.
- The Maronite Cathedral of St. George - Emir Bechir Street, Downtown Beirut. Built in 1888, the style of this church is neo-classical. The cathedral was completely restored in 2000.
- Al Omari Mosque - Originally the Crusader Cathedral of St. John (1113-1150 A.D.), the building was transformed into the city’s Grand Mosque by the Mamlukes in 1291.
- Zawiyat Ibn Al-Arraq - Built in 1517 by Mohammed Ibn Al-Arrak Addimashqi, This building was originally an Islamic law school and continued as an Islamic scnctuary into late Ottoman times. It was rediscovered during the post-war clean-up process in 1991.
- Amir Assaf Mosque - Also called Bab-Es-Saray Mosque: This was built by Emir Mansour ‘Assaf (1572–1580) on the site of the Byzantine Church of the Holy Savior. Located opposite the Municipality Building.
- Amir Munzer Mosque - The Amir Munzer Mosque was built in 1620 on an earlier structure. Also called Nafoura (fountain) Mosque, there are eight Roman columns in its courtyard.
- Majidiyyeh Mosque - This mosque was constructed in the mid 19th century and named after the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Majid I (1839–1861).
- Downtown Beirut Official Site (Downtown Beirut Lenanon), Beirut. Downtown Beirut lebanon is a great site to find anything you want about beirut, lebanon, any restaurant, Bank, insurance, events, doctors and news
- The Music Hall, Center. One of the most happening nightlife spots in Beirut. Playing jazz, pop, ethnic, belcanto.
The newly opened Souks de Beirut is a huge mall in downtown featuring high end, international brand stores such as H&M, Diesel, Dolce&Gabbana, etc. There you can also find shops of some of the best watchmakers including Rolex, Omega, Officine Panerai and Jaeger-LeCoultre to name a few. The architecture of the mall is stunning and it's mostly outdoors.
- ABC Beauté, Bab Idriss, downtown, +961 1 991888. Offering a wide range of international cosmetics and perfume brands, nail bar, professional hairdressers and stylists. Open Mon-Sat 10AM-7PM.
Al Rifai is a store selling nuts and speciality Lebanese sweets just off of the Place de L'Etoile.
The Virgin Megastore is a four story haven for books, music, movies, and electronics. International and local music/movies are on sale.
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Iris. On top of the an-Nahar building in downtown is a rooftop bar, overlooking downtown and the mountains.
Taboo. A popular club in downtown, just opposite the Harriri Mosque.
I-Bar. Next door to Taboo, is an upstairs bar with many events.
Citrus/Pure. Above Taboo, but expect to pay a lot of money there.
Julips. Cassis. Zooka. Vintage. In the street behind Iris
- Al Nazih Pension, Bld. 3, Rue 62 Chanty, Secteur 29, Gemmayze (on the NE (seaside) corner of Martyrs' Square and Charles Hellou Avenue), ☎ +961 3 475136, fax: +961 1564868, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A budget option. The hotel is situated two minutes' walk from Downtown and also very close to the Charles Hellou bus station. All rooms have satellite TV and A/C. Dorm beds are $17, single room $30, double rooms are between 35 and $50. They also have a four bed room for $70. Except the owner to charge you for toilet paper and use of internet. No kitchen and no discount available for longer stay.
- Saifi Urban Gardens, Pasteur Street (Behind "Coral" gas station and "Loge", Gemayze), ☎ +961 1 562509, e-mail: email@example.com. Is arguably the best budget and value for money option in all Beirut, the hostel is a part of an Arabic language school and is involved in a series of artistic and educational activities. Dorm beds 18, 16, $12 (daily rate for a day stay/ for a week stay, for a month stay), single $41, double $45. Internet, breakfast and drinking mineral water are included in the price.
- Talal's New Hotel, Charles Helou st., Beirut (Beirut Port area, opposite Valli & Valli), Tel-fax :+961(0)1 564597 was a favorite for backpackers and budget travelers but at present it is an option to avoid. Reports of staff aggression and violence have recently been reported. The hygiene of the place is very poor.
- Etoile Suites Hotel, Hussain Al Ahdab street (near the Lebanese parliament and facing Beirut municipality building), ☎ +961 1 976 197, fax: +961 1 976 197, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. USD 300.
- Markazia Monroe Suites (5 stars), Syria Street . Solidere (Just across the street from St. Georges Marina, near downtown nightlife.), ☎ +961 1 991 200, fax: +961 1 991 211, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Le Gray (just opened near the Virgin Megastore). Striving to be the best hotel in Beirut
A Four Seasons, Hyatt, and Ramada are all due to open soon in Downtown.
- Costa Coffee, just off of Nejmeh Square, offers free Wifi to customers. There is also a Starbucks close by.