Ever since it became a nightlife hotspot, the Gemmayzeh strip has represented one thing to locals and tourists alike: bars galore! With all the noise, the energy, the excitement, the booze, one tends to overlook what made Gemmayzeh special in the first place: its buildings.
Boasting some of the oldest and most charming buildings in Beirut, Gemmayzeh is home to an era of architecture reminiscent of the good old Francophone days, when residents hung their baskets over their balconies to pick up groceries; when neighbors called over to each other from window to window, asking them to come over for some coffee and chitchat; when Lebanese heritage was at its finest, with little corner shops run by small families were scattered around here are there. Yes, one tends to overlook these things.
I’m not saying we can or should have it all back, but it’s always good to take a minute or two to stroll down memory lane and try to remember where we came from – the simple things that made us happy as children.
Next time you’re next to Gemmayzeh, park your car at the very beginning and take a walk down the road without the intention of going drinking or bar-hopping. Forget the bars, forget the new establishments, and forget the noise. Venture into secluded alleyways that lead you to interesting nooks and crannies. Enter old buildings and admire the architecture that has endured decades of harsh weather, war and little to no maintenance. You’ll find yourself discovering bits and pieces of a place that you’ve been to countless times and thought you knew very well. You never know, a friendly resident may invite you into their home where you’ll get to appreciate the charming interior and many enjoy a glass of lemonade. You may discover a new favorite private spot that you’ll enjoy spending time in. in any case, you’ll enjoy feeling like an explorer in the heart of your very own city.
Lebanon may be a small country, but even in those areas that you feel you’ve memorized by heart, you will still find yourself in awe when you look at things from a different perspective. We’ve taken some photos during our stroll, why don’t you spend a sunny, breezy afternoon doing some domestic tourism, taking photos of your own?
Let us know what you love most about Gemmayzeh. It could be your favorite venue, building, spot or anything that catches your eye.