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Places of Interest in Lebanon

May 14th, 2010

beirut-travel.jpgBounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Lebanon shines as “The Pearl of the Middle East.” Designated by the New York Times as number one out of 44 tourist destinations, this beautiful country — most famously exemplified by the symbol on its flag, the Cedars of Lebanon — is an ideal vacation spot and gateway to the Middle East. It is particularly noted for its excellent food and mild climate.

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is the focus of travel to this marvelous country. Often called the “Paris of the East,” the cosmopolitan metropolis of Beirut is famous for its nightlife. Travel to the city center, especially the Rue Monet (Monet Street), and you will have your choice of excellent restaurants and nightclubs. Whether your tastes run to Western music or traditional Arabic fare, all coexist here. During the day, you might choose to relax on the beautiful beaches, dipping in the warm, clear waters of the Mediterranean. Of course, no trip is complete without shopping junkets, and Beirut caters to every desire.

The way people dress in Lebanon is as diverse as in any other modern country. In cities like Beirut, miniskirts are as prevalent as veils and robes, but the social climate tends toward conservative when you travel outside of the larger cities. Give consideration to the religious sensitivities of the country when you visit either the souks (market places) or religious centers (e.g., mosques, temples, or churches). Respect for the culture dictates modest or conservative dress at these sites. Simply put, dress appropriately.

No stay in Beirut is complete without a visit to the shrine for Our Lady of Harissa. This beautiful, bronze statue of the Virgin Mary is situated on Harissa Hill in the Kesrwan district, approximately thirteen miles from Beirut’s City Center. Visitors who climb the stairs to the top of this nineteenth century statue get a breathtaking view of the city.

Beirut boasts many other popular sites and activities. The Pigeon Rocks lie along the coast. Looking like a watchtower from a distance, archaeologists believe it is one of the oldest natural rocks along the coastline. Another beautiful spot is the birthplace of Khalil Gibran in the town of Bcharré. Gibran was the famous painter, poet, and author most noted for his masterpiece, The Prophet. The city of Bcharré itself is quite beautiful, lying in the Qadisha Valley and surrounded by some of Lebanon’s most breathtaking scenery. Within Beirut, a must-see is Charle de Gaulle Residence, where the French General and President lived from 1929 until 1932. Finally, some (but not all) spots you will want to visit are Al-Omari Mosque, the Greek-Catholic Cathedral of Saint Elias, the Temples of Baalbek, Jouneih Bay, the Jeita Grotto, and the Beit ed-Dine Palace.

Beirut is not all that makes Lebanon special. The only Middle Eastern country without a desert, Lebanon features glistening beaches and graceful mountains, all easily accessible from Beirut. While Lebanon is thoroughly modern, you can also satisfy your archeological curiosity by visiting excavations dating back to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Ottoman Empire. Because of its geographical location, its history, and Beirut’s urbanity, visitors have no problem being understood. Arabic is the country’s main language, but many people speak other languages, including English, French, and Armenian.

A country that beautifully blends the modern with the ancient, Lebanon is culturally diverse — a must-visit destination of the Middle East. Your stay will not be brief. Featuring a welcoming people, rich history, the dynamic nightlife of Beirut, and much, much more, Lebanon is truly the Pearl of the Middle East.


This article was supplied by Mel MacKaron from Constant Content.


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