Top 5 Must Do's in Beirut

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Beirut is the capital of Lebanon, and is located directly on the Mediterranean Coast. Though this city has had a recently troubled past, they have restored the city, and it has recently become a popular tourist attraction once again. The following are the top five Beirut must do's.

1. Tour Old Downtown

The Omari Mosque has a rich history, as it was converted to a Christian cathedral during crusader conquests twice in its lifetime. This mosque is the center of Islamic beliefs in Lebanon, and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. There are differing opinions about whether people of other faiths are welcome in mosques, but at the very least you can ask for permission to explore the mosque's garden. Another important historical landmark in Beirut are the stunning Roman columns in Nejmeh Square. Near Nejmeh square is the Parliament building, and across the street are Greek Orthodox churches and one Greek Catholic church.

2. Visit the Coast

Standing in the Mediterranean off of Beirut's western-most tip is Pigeon Rock. Pigeon Rock is a massive rock formation in the sea that is a popular tourist destination. This is a great place to watch the sunset or make your way to one of Beirut's many beaches to spend the day in the sun.

3. The Hippodrome

Open Sunday only but free of charge, this race track was built in 1885, and is one of the premier places to see Arabian horses in action. Arabian horses are one of the top breeds of horses in the world, and were prized possessions of the ancient nomadic people who inhabited the Arabian peninsula. Betting on the races is a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike.

4. Scuba Diving

Scuba diving in Beirut operates year-round, and you can get lessons and rent equipment at Kyriakos Freres Marine Diffusion. The coast of Beirut is full of natural and historical beauty, which makes diving a top Beirut must-do while you visit the city. The shore is dotted with shipwrecks and remnants of the different civilizations that inhabited the area. There are also sting ray and shark habitats among the many caves and canyons in this part of the Mediterranean.

5. Shoping

There are many malls, shops and markets in Beirut that you will not want to miss. You can find high-end and designer shopping in downtown Beirut and on Verdun Road, which boasts some of the best shopping in the Middle East. There are many malls throughout Beirut that have western and eastern brands as well as movie theaters and cafes. The Souk El Tayeb market is open every Saturday, and has traditional cheese, honey and bread as well as artisan crafts.

March 28, 2010 new by benf

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