Located at the historical and geographical core of
the city, the vibrant financial, commercial and administrative
hub of the country, the Beirut Central District or
'Centre Ville' came under fire from all sides throughout
most of the 1980's. By the end of the war, this area
of the city had been afflicted with overwhelming destruction
and total devastation of the infrastructure. A master
plan for reconstructing the city was officially approved
by the Council of Ministers in March of 1994, after
a series of detailed studies and public and professional
seminars and on May 5, 1994, Solidere, The Lebanese
company for the development and reconstruction of
Beirut Central District, was formed, launching the
largest urban redevelopment project of the 1990s.
The main features of the master plan were the reintegration of the Central District within the metropolitan area of Beirut, the preservation of the historical core of the city, the development of a mixed-use zone on reclaimed land, the reconstruction of the old Souks, the preservation of the residential neighborhoods of Saifi, Mar Maroun and Zkak al Blat, the development of a seaside park on a former landfill zone, and the integration of archeological finds into modern developments.
Today the Beirut Central District has regained its attractiveness as the restoration of many of its buildings has been completed. Of particular note is the area around Foch-Allenby, which has a historic and diversified architecture, characterized by facades decorated and sculpted from yellow stone, inspired by Ottoman, Italian, and French styles. Elegant wrought iron work adds beauty to their balconies and facades. Permanent and temporary activities are now merging in Beirut city center, much to the enjoyment of young and old. The Souk al Barghout flea market has been drawing large crowds of people who spend the long evenings shopping, or browsing through the wonderful array of antiques, paintings, jewelry, handicrafts and carpets, on display in the various shops and stalls in and around the beautifully restored buildings. Residents, returnees and visitors are thus reclaiming the city center's open space, walking, jogging and riding bicycles in addition to shopping or resting in public gardens. Indoor and outdoor restaurants and charming cafes and pubs have opened throughout the district where residents and visitors can enjoy themselves well into the night.
The possibilities are endless: strolling through cobblestone streets and landscape gardens, biking or rollerblading along the waterfront, playing basketball with friends, taking a break for a coffee or a treat at one of many sidewalk cafes, feasting on a high cuisine , shopping or window shopping, admiring archeological sites or just simply enjoying the fabulous panorama.
It's all happening in Beirut city center. And there's a lot more, such as concerts and theater performances, a children's interactive museum, chess tournaments, exhibitions, conferences, gala dinners at the Roman Baths, fashion shows, music festivals, shopping festivals, street markets, marathons and sports competitions, and more.
With the completion of the work in around 2005, Beirut is sure to retake its place among the leading cities of the world.
- Beirut, Allenby street by Night: >> View Movie << (2004-07-01)