Simply walking around the neighborhood
Gemayzeh on Sunday morning is a very pleasant street for having a quiet stroll. No cars, no music: it's the right time to promenade by taking the stairs linking two parallel streets.
Facing the St. Maron Church, the market of Souk el Tayeb has been since recent years a family destination: people come here to drink organic fruit juice such as orange or grape juice along pomegranate producers. Children buy small bottles of soapy water to make bubbles that flutter around in the market.
After market time, Saifi village is the best place to admire window panes and spend some time sitting in quiet yards of the freshly renovated neighborhood. Children enjoy playing away from cars, where benches accommodate parents who may also have a coffee in one of the few restaurants located in the district. There are a few public gardens left in Beirut.
Among them: Sioufi Gardens in Ashrafieh, offer their 20 000 square meters for greenery lovers. In spring, the flowering trees line the walkways dedicated for strollers. Moms are those who walk with their children on weekends or even on late afternoons after school when weather allows them to. Premises are equipped with outdoor games. In summer, Ashrafieh residents who aren’t able to go to the mountains can have a breath of fresh air in early morning before the unbearable heat of the day. In the district of Sofil Center, facing Saint Nicolas Church, a smaller garden than the one in Sioufi gives it a lively touch of freshness. It is very pleasant to spend time alone or with family.
Here is a suggestion of a promenade: If you’re walking in Gemayzeh, go past the former cinema Vendome in the River Street (the one that leads from Burj Hammoud to Gemayzeh). It's time to take the stairs, where there are small shops, and where some few locals spend some time to chat in front of their door steps.
Very quiet, in the tiny street that leads to the Saint Georges Hospital (or Orthodox Hospital) you can find on the right, a large fig tree that perfumes the air with its fragrances.
Walking by the hospital, you’ll find the "librairie des quartier” with the “s" missing in which no books are sold but only fruits and vegetables. It’s right above the large building of "Electricité Du Liban", with below, the port and the sea. Go through the street of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, next to the Sofil cinema to move towards the Sursock area. Here, luxury buildings are alongside hidden palaces at the heart of lush gardens, behind huge black gates.
Walking by the Embassy of Argentine and the Lebanese Red Cross headquarters, you can stop by a shop of ethnic decoration, to find either an Indian fabric or African statuettes. To move from Sursock to Gemayzeh, all you have to do is to take the stairs of Saint Nicolas that will be shining of decorative chains, in late afternoon.
If the party is celebrated each night in Gouraud Street (Gemayzeh), during the day you can have the chance to admire a plethora of traditional houses and discover small shops. You can also buy some snacks at a grocery and enjoy a tasty Man'ouche.
Go to museums searching for architectural treasures
The Barakat House, to be renovated soon in order to be transformed into a "museum of memory" is one of the major traditional buildings of the capital. Located in Sodeco, it is the angle between Elias Sarkis Avenue and Damascus Street.
In the Gemmayze neighborhood, the Sursock Museum was once the residence of the Sursock family. It is now a museum of modern art. Built in 1912, this luxurious two-storey palace is one of the most beautiful homes in Beirut, with a white marble staircase that proudly stands in the middle.
The “Bustros Palace” hosts nowadays the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants. This house is the former residence of the Bustros family (Beiruti prominent aristocratic family).
Tourists can also go to Saifi, nicknamed the Art district because of the small galleries that settled there since at least 10 years now. You can visit them during the day and wander on the sidewalks and on the recently renovated pedestrian. The atmosphere is calm and serene.
Liliane, 28 years old French tourist says, "I’m a big fan of contemporary art. I was particularly fascinated by the abundance of galleries in Saifi. Moving from one to another is a very pleasant way to spend time and visit the neighborhood. "