For a lot of people who do not know Beirut, it is a city of chaos. But for those who have had a taste of it, the city can be described as a rebellious beauty with an eclectic mix that continues to inspire and attract its people and those who have seen her. Evidence of that is the upcoming Beirut Art Fair, which will take place on September 15 to 18 with 18 countries participating in the event.
This is only just the beginning because Beirut's art scene is alive and kicking. At the end of September, Beit Beirut, a center that holds memories of conflict and chaos in the country, will open its doors to the public. And there's more to Beirut that would make any art enthusiast cry out with glee. Here are a few places to go to and a few things to do in Beirut:
Sursock Museum is the headliner of the art scene in Beirut. This contemporary art gallery has a very colorful past being a sniper outpost during the civil war. Headed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the building has been beautifully preserved together with the bullet pockmarks that serve as a reminder to the city's past turmoil.
Next to Sursock is Aishti Foundation, a private museum commissioned by businessman Tony Salamé and designed by British architect David Adjaye. The museum houses around 2,000 artworks from famous artists including Urs Fischer and Lucio Fontana. All of these art pieces come from Salamé's personal collection.
Food and art also merge well in Beirut. In Ashrafıeh district, Liza Soughayar's restaurant is both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and the taste. Its interiors are filled with artworks made by young Lebanese artists. The menu does not fail to deliver as well with its fusion of modern and traditional Lebanese cuisine.
At night, visitors can kick off their shoes at Armenian Street located in Mar Mikhael and have their happy hour in any of the hip and trendy nightclubs and bars. Absinthe mixed with sumac or za'atar is available at Anise bar while a large burger using Black Angus beef is served at the Happy Prince.
To borrow Liza Soughayar's words, Beirut has "learned to survive by living with its past while always looking to the future."