Category Archives: Tourism

20 Things To Do In Tripoli – Lebanon (Part1)

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Tripoli

Tripoli is Lebanon’s second-largest city and despite being one of its poorest, it is rich in diversity and is a beautiful city to explore. There are always new places to visit and new things to do and a sense of community in the city. I’ve been going to Tripoli for 15 years or more and I discover a new thing to do or a new place to visit almost every time so I decided to compile all these activities into two blog posts based on my past experiences and a little help from my good friends and Tripolitans Natheer, Hayat and Zaher.

1- Visit Tripoli Mina:
Mino Street Picture by Abir Kassem
Enjoy the beach and the kiosks lined up along the coast offering warm drinks and occasionally some delicious Tripolitan Ka’ak. Some of them even have chairs and tables to relax and enjoy the vast view. The old alleys in Mina in both Christian and Muslim neighborhoods, the architecture, the bright colors, the green everywhere. Restaurants in Mina that range from small no-seater sea food shops to big glamorous restaurants with fancy menus, mostly with sea food.

In this region, there are always visible aspects or events presented by the Mina Peace Committee. This organization aims to ameliorate the city on different levels, as well as encourage relationships between people in order to build a safer and more peaceful environment.

2- The potteries in Mina:
pottery Source
The potteries in Mina are considered to be the last in all of Lebanon. Unfortunately, there’s only one pottery out of these 3 that still makes its own clay these days (Abou George) while others buy the clay. I think the Ministry of Tourism should encourage and train artisans to preserve this tradition and keep the pottery trade alive.

3- The Hammams in old Tripoli:
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The Hammams in old Trablos, the Turkish baths, with only one still working (Hammam al Abed) and three more open for visits. Hamman al Abed was built in the 17th century and its interior is quite impressive. Hamman Al Jadid is the largest and Tripoli’s best-preserved Hamman so make sure you visit it even though it’s not operational.

4- The big mosques and churches in both Trablos and Mina:
Picture by Natheer Halawani

The big mosques and churches in both Trablos and Mina, which are plenty. Usually mosques and churches share the same wall in mixed areas. Even streets in Muslim parts have names of saints, while others in Christian areas have Muslim names. The Great Mosque, Abu Baker Al Siddik Mosque, Al-Bertasi Mosque, the Taynal Mosque and The Cathedral of St George (Al Mina) are worth visiting. There’s also a church street where you can find the oldest Maronite church in Tripoli, St Micheal which was built in 1889. The oldest church in Tripoli is Saydet al Hara in Tabbaneh which dates back to the 13th century.

Taynal_Mosque2009a Typical of Mamluk architecture, the Taynal Mosque was built on the site of a ruined Crusader Carmelite Church – Picture via Wiki

5- The Old Souks:

The old souks that sell all sorts of merchandise: Vintage clothes, second hand clothes, soap, gold and silver, furniture, shoes, vegetables, fruits, fish & meat etc. It’s fun to walk around the souks and discover the hidden parts of the city.

For the past years, The Old souks committee (lijnat el aswak el Kadima) has been working on cheerful renovations, friendly environment ameliorations as well as fun outdoor performances in order to make the Old Souk a more enjoyable and peaceful visiting spot for all ages, especially children.

stairs

In addition to the heartwarming results caused by the old souk Committee, a band called “One Voice Team” has been nothing less than active in this northern city of Lebanon. Scared by the pain and the fear they see around them, this band of three musicians encourage the society around them through heartfelt gatherings with children of all ages, as well as, as you can see above, joyful painting of staircases across the city which aims to bring people together and make the environment friendlier.

6- The Citadel of Tripoli
Citadel The Citadel By Taha Naji
The Citadel is a huge castle that is 130 meters longs and 70 meters wide. It overlooks all of Tripoli and offers a great view of the city. The Tripoli Citadel includes an old hammam, three prayer houses, a jail, a stable for horses, wells, graveyards, 20 meter long towers and around 10 gates. The Crusaders, the Mamluks and the Ottomans occupied that citadel throughout the decades. [Source]

PS: The Lebanese Army has been using it as a base for security reasons but anyone can visit anytime.

7- The hidden mosques in old Trablos:
mosque
The hidden mosques in old Trablos, usually the entrance would be one tiny door not wider than 1 meter, but the interior is so fascinating and sometimes extremely large. You should definitely visit Al Muallaq Mosque “Hanging Mosque” that is set on top of an arched passageway and is only accessible by a flight of stairs. The Hanging Mosque was built by Mahmud ibn-Lutfi, Ottoman governor of Tripoli during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.

8- The Soap makers:
Saboun
The soap industry is considered as one of the oldest industries in Tripoli. Soap factories were essential to the city’s economy as they used to produce hand-made soap to supply the tens of Hammams. Khan Al-Saboun (Soap Khan) is a well known historical place and a popular market for olive and olive-oil based products which include soap of course. The Soap Khan was originally occupied by Yusuf al-Saifi, Tripoli’s Pasha back in the 17th century, but after Tripoli fell to Fakhr-ed-Din, the Ottoman garrison fled and the Khan stood empty and useless until it was turned into a soap factory and warehouse.

9- The MANY sweets shops:

There’s a pastry shop almost on every corner in Tripoli. Sweets shops/names are famous -each- for one or two types of sweets only. People from outside Tripoli usually go to Qasr el Helou (Hallab), which I will mention in Part 2, but Tripolitans prefer going to small shops and try each shop’s speciality, just as the Shmaysi at Haddad.

10- Niemeyer’s Maarad, or the Tripoli Expo.
Maarad Rashid 2 Maarad Rashid Karame By Hayat Chaaban
The Rashid Karameh International exhibition center may look like an abandoned place but it’s a breathtaking space designed by the famous Oskar Niemeyer. The Brazilian architect was chosen to design the Tripoli International Fair in the 1960s but he couldn’t finish his work due to the civil war. In 2006, the site was “added to the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites after conservationists campaigned to preserve it when Tripoli’s chamber of commerce proposed turning into a tourist village theme park to be based on Disneyland. Its listing signifies the site’s historic importance, but does nothing to permanently protect it”. It’s quite an impressive “monument of architectural vision” that is totally worth visiting.

Maarad Rashid Karame Maarad Rashid Karameh by Rouham Hallab

Part 2 will be up in few days.

Week36 : LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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HImlaya Dream house – by Spishgar

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Over the clouds Over the clouds – by GeorgeRahme

Chekka Chekka – by Thomas_kh

Cedars Majestic Cedars – By GeorgesElHanna

Bekaa Live Love Bekaa – By raianesalem

Batroun1 Underwater – by ChrisKabalan

Chouwen Tarzan – by Ramy.ak

#AuthenticShouf: Visit The Lebanese Shouf This Summer

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shouf2

The Shouf is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful areas in Lebanon. It boasts the biggest Cedars forest in Lebanon, historical palaces built by the Emirs of Lebanon, most notably the magnificent Beiteddine palace, as well as beautiful old Lebanese houses, monasteries and attractions. There are many things to do in the Shouf, such as hiking in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, visiting the old town and doing some sightseeing, staying at the Mir Amin Palace and enjoying a good meal with the best view in town etc …

I will be writing soon a post dedicated to the Shouf area and things to do there. Until then, check out this nice campaign and share your experiences using #AuthenticShouf

[YouTube]

shouf1

Five Reasons To Visit Kobayat (Akkar) This Summer

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Kammou3a3

Kobayat is a Lebanese town located northeast of Tripoli in Lebanon’s Akkar district and is 150km away from the capital Beirut. To be honest, I had never visited Kobayat or Akkar before 2010 as I wasn’t very familiar with the area and it was a bit too far, but I was really surprised when I went up the first time as I did not think such beauty and green scenery existed in Lebanon and I’ve been encouraging all my friends to visit Akkar and Kobayat ever since. Kobayat is a gorgeous town very rich in natural, historical, and religious pilgrimage sites and it’s an ideal weekend getaway with your family or friends.

Here are five reasons which you should visit Akkar and Kobayat this summer:

1- Eco-Tourism and Sightseeing: The largest green areas in Lebanon
Kammou3a1
Kobayat is very green and very quiet. The forests in the Kobayat area and around it are the largest in Lebanon and the most bio-diverse in the region, there are at least three protected natural sites of forests including Karm-Chbat, one of the best naturally preserved Cedars forest reserve in Lebanon, Al-Chanbouq Reserve and Al Qammouaa (in Fnaidek) which are areas of rich biodiversity where you can find Cedar and pine trees as well as one of the largest Oak forests, characterized by its density & length, (غابة العزر) in the Middle East. If you head to Andkit which is 5 minutes away from Kobayat, you can visit the stunning Audeen Valley. Other natural attractions also include Ain Martmoura (Spring), Al Kobayat river & Ain al Sitt, a couple of springs and old caves in Fnaidek. There’s a lot of greenery everywhere you look and you can spend the whole day driving or walking around and enjoying the landscapes. Moreover, if you love trekking, hiking or mountain biking, you will find the most beautiful trails there.

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For those of you who like museums, Kobayat has an amazing scientific museum for birds, butterflies and animals that served once as a school for Carmelite priests back in 1908. The museum has over 400 species of birds and animals found in Lebanon and up to 4000 species of butterflies from all over the world.

Kobayat4

2- History: Kobayat is one of Lebanon’s most ancient towns
Kobayat2

Kobayat is a very old town and was considered a major trading route on the Silk Road. You will find artifacts dating back to the Phoenicians, Greek and Roman Empires and others. Here’s a list of monuments that you can visit in Kobayat and its vicinity that include:
– An old silk plant and remains of old mills (also found in nearby Andkit).
– An old olive press with caves and engraved rocks in Akroum.
– A 13th century citadel in Akkar Al-Atika.
– Old citadels and mosques dating from the 19th century in Al Bireh and Bourj village.
– Al Hosn citadel and Nebuchadnezzar Rock in Kfarnoun.

Mar Sarkis

3- Religious Tourism: Over 25 Churches,
Convents & 
Monasteries
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A lot of people visit Kobayat for faith reasons. There are tens of ancient churches, convents and monasteries in Kobayat and its vicinity and most of them are located in the most amazing spots all surrounded by greenery. Some of the popular religious sites in Kobayat are:

– Saydet (Our Lady) Al-Ghisseleh Ancient Church
– Mar Doumit Ancient Monastery for Carmelite Fathers
– Mar Challita Ancient Monastery (Andkit)
– Saint Joseph and Mar Saba Ancient Monasteries (Andkit)
– Mar Gerges (Saint Georges) Ancient Monastery and Church, near an Old Well
– Saydet Ghezrata Ancient Church
– Old Church in Al-Chanbouq Area
– Saydet Chahlo Church
– Mar Eliane Monastery within Al-Bat’aneh Valley buried underground (Andkit)
– Our Lady of the Fort (Saydet el Qalaa) in Mounjez
– Mar Elias in Oudine.

20150404_132318

There’s also a huge cross in Kobayat worth visiting.

4- Kobayat is the starting point of the LMT (Lebanon Mountain Trail)

The Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) is the longest hiking trail in Lebanon as it pretty much covers the whole country. It extends from Kobayat in the north of Lebanon to Marjaayoun in the south, a 440 km path that transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitudes ranging from 600 to 2,000 meters above sea level. For more information, check their website [here].

trail

The LMT is probably the best way to experience the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Lebanon’s mountains. Here’s a small video worth checking:

[YouTube]

5- Entertainement: Kobayat Summer Festivals:
kobayat festivals

I had the chance to meet the head of the Kobayat Festivals committee Cynthia Karkafi Hobeiche few months back during a reforestation campaign in Kobayat and she briefed me on the hard work they’ve been pulling to promote Kobayat and Akkar as a summer destination. The Kobayat festivals is the biggest event for the town during the summer as it occurs on the same weekend as Eid el Saydeh (Assumption of Mary holiday). Kobayat is always packed during this time of year, as most of the families go back to their hometown to enjoy the festivities and spend time with their families.

Wael Kfoury and Assi el Hellani are performing this year at the Kobayat festival. You can buy your tickets at [Virgin Ticketing Box office]. Bus lifts are available for $10 only. For more info, check out [Kobayat Festival on Facebook] or call 09 934 921.

brochure Kobayat Festival Committee is also organizing an eco-tourism and sightseeing day. Call 09 934 921 for further details

Where to eat in Kobayat?

The first thing that you need to try if you are visiting Kobayat is the Tannour and (Tlamé) bread for breakfast. There’s a Tannour place at the entrance of Kobayat called Hatbe w Nara and an old Tlamé place in Andkit that I posted about previously. If you want to have lunch or dinner, there’s Kobayat Country Club, Karam Cafe, Chellel el Samak and Al Wadi (next to Mar Challita) restaurants. There’s also the traditional Kebbe that locals do but I don’t think you can find it in restaurants.

kob

Kobayat1

All in all, Kobayat is a beautiful town that I recommend you all visit this summer. You get to enjoy the beautiful nature, the trails, trees and forest and more importantly escape from the city and all the noise and pollution.

[YouTube]

Some of the pictures are taken from Dr. Antoine Daher with his permission of course. I use several resources for the post, including [Ebaladiyat], [MOT], this [document] and of course the Kobayat festival committee and its esteemed president.

Week34: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Chouf Beautiful Chouf – by Buddcorp

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Batroun house Batroun house – by Mia Karam

chiah Lebanon thru the eyes of Silvio Chiha

chouwen Chouwen river – by Hassanasser1

dive Fear nothing! By Charbel Bouez

divers 17 divers and helpers raised a 66 sqm Lebanese flag, the largest underwater Lebanese flag, in Chekka, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Lebanese army. By Freakgmb

Hippodrome Hippodrome de Beirut – by Riseabovelebanon

manakish Manakish anyone? By Ppharaon

Discovering Lebanon, The Lebanon We Love, Through The Eyes Of Silvio Chiha

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chiha1

Enough with the garbage talks and the ugly pictures we’ve been seen for over a week now, here’s an breathtaking movie showing Lebanon’s natural beauty though the eyes of Silvio Chiha, an internationally known Lebanese water skiing champion, and the lens of my good friend Charbel Bouez.

chihah2

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful Lebanon we know and that we want to show to the world!

[YouTube]

Ten Things The Telegraph Didn’t Know About Lebanon

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leb via LiveLoveBeirut

It’s not always a good thing when Lebanon is promoted as a touristic destination by international media as the way they perceive things is sometimes highly inaccurate. Of course you can’t really blame them because of the current situation on the borders and in neighboring countries but it wouldn’t hurt to double check on some facts before publishing them.

I just finished reading an article recently published by the Telegraph on Beirut entitled “War is a million miles away when the Lebanese begin to party” and here are ten things they got completely wrong. The first two are related to the outdated pictures they used, while the rest is from the article itself.

chris A Lebanese Christian woman partying after recent elections

1- The last elections took place on June 7, 2009 which is more than 6 years ago and a “Christian woman” drinking champagne after results were announced is not really how we party in Beirut.

diningg Dining out in Beirut’s rebuilt downtown area (Photo: Alamy)

2- I don’t remember the last time I saw people dining in that area of Beirut. I think it goes back to 2003 or 2004. Whomever wrote this article obviously hasn’t visited Beirut in a long time.

Standing on picnic tables, skinny girls in hot pants and crop-tops gyrated to thumping beats, upending bottles of vodka into the mouths of the bare-chested men dancing beside them. An open-top car, Christian Louboutin shoes and a full-time, live-in maid to look after one’s children are all must-have accessories.

3- Are they referring to Rikkyz here? If not where is this place in the Lebanese mountains with skinny girls in hot pants and bare-chested men? I had no clue Rikkyz was for fancy people only.

Beauty is paramount: parents are known to book nose jobs as a birthday presents for their teenage children, and the youngsters wear their stitches proudly, as badges of honour. The average cost of a birthday party among this elite, one event organiser tells me, is $200,000. A wedding is $300,000.

4- Nose jobs for teenage children? Wear their stitches as a badge of honor? Really? And birthday parties for $200,000? Are we talking about Lebanon here? Plastic surgery is quite common in Lebanon but people tend to be discreet about it as far as I know.

It is said that most of the country’s big spenders sustain their lifestyles using bank loans they cannot obviously repay. The phenomenon is often explained as a consequence of the civil war.

5- Bank loans for $200,000 to hold a birthday party and get a nose job? Lebanese families who organize such parties don’t need bank loans. They probably own banks themselves. Moreover, the phenomenon is not a consequence of the civil war as most people tend to overspend on their credit cards. This is a universal problem for all credit card holders.

Society remains divided. Most Lebanese put sect before country. Beirut is a patchwork of separate cantons (in Christian Ashrafieh, the women wear miniskirts, while 10 minutes’ walk east, in the mostly Shia district of Basta, the prevailing fashion is the hijab).

6- Shia District of Basta? Isn’t Basta a traditionally Sunnite area?

The communities rarely interact.

7- That’s true. Christians rarely talk to Muslims and we rarely hang out at the same places. Yesterday I went to Verdun and I was a bit worried that Muslims on camels might attack me there, but then I spotted Christians wearing gold chain necklaces with a cross on it and I felt safe again.

Rushing through the city’s Armenian quarter one night, on my way to the chic downtown district, I was stopped by an elderly man who warned me not to go on. “There are Muslims there,” he cautioned.

8- The Muslims are coming. Beware lol!

A Lebanese businessman told me recently how he had struggled to persuade a British colleague to come to Beirut. For years she refused to visit, until it became a necessity for her work. Convinced she was flying into a war zone, her hands shook with fear as she checked in at Heathrow. On the plane she broke into floods of tears.

9- This passage is quite insulting to the whole British community and to British Ambassador Tom Fletcher. Is it so hard for this young woman to check the British Embassy’s website and understand what’s happening in Lebanon. Ironically enough, the UK travel advice to Lebanon is one of the most detailed and accurate ones.

For now, sadly, even at the magnificent Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek, the tourist touts sit together at a coffee table by the empty ticket hall. A camel, dressed up to the nines, with an embroidered doily resting between its ears and an elaborately carved wooden saddle on his back, waits under a tree, desolately swatting flies with its tail. The businessman’s friend may well have been their last customer.

10- The Baalbeck International Festival is the oldest and most prestigious cultural event in the Middle East and is visited by thousands every year. Last year, the festivals were relocated due to the situation in Syria but they are back this year. Moreover, Baalbeck is almost one of the most impressive and most visited sites in Lebanon.

The only thing that the Telegraph goes right was that the “biggest risk to foreigners in Lebanon is a thick waistline and a stinking hangover”. Here’s a [link] to the full article.

PS: If you’re coming to Lebanon this summer, here’s a list of fun things to do.

Week33: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Barook Barouk Cedars – by Sarah

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Jounieh festival Jounieh Festival – by RiseAboveLebanon

Harissa Harissa – by Eliasouba

Gazl Le marchand de bonheur – by Elias.ac

Cedars1 Eternal gardens – by Eli.youssef

Baakline Baakline waterfalls

Afqa Afka – by Gilbert Geagea

HMA Tom Fletcher Bids Farewell To Lebanon By Walking From Batroun To Beirut

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fletcher1

HMA Tom Fletcher is touring the country and promoting Lebanon as a touristic destination on his final days as the British Ambassador. Fletcher had lemonade in Batroun, then walked all the way from Batroun to Jbeil where he visited the souks and met the locals. On the second day, he went to Harissa and wore the traditional Lebanese costume during a dinner ceremony held in his honor. Later on, he visited the Jounieh souks, walked all the way to Nahr el Kalb where he visited the different monuments, passed by Beirut’s port to show support to the Lebanese economy before reaching his final destination at Martyrs Square in Beirut.

Fletcher

HMA Tom Fletcher may no longer be an ambassador to Lebanon but he’s from now an ambassador for Lebanon and he’s a perfect fit for the job. We thank you for showing the true image of Lebanon and being the best diplomat Lebanon has had in years!

[YouTube]