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Beirut City Guide

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Check out The Scene's recommendations for the Lebanese capital and send us your own suggestions below.

SEE: The Solidere District is the most dramatic manifestation of Beirut's physical and psychological revival since the end of the civil war -- a carefully reconstructed strip of cafe culture built from golden sandstone and pink marble that has a buzz to rival Barcelona's Las Ramblas. Wander down the seafront Corniche -- a palm-lined boulevard where Beirut unwinds at the end of the day, or check out Martyrs' Square, scene of peaceful pro-democracy protests in early 2005 and a popular hangout for students and the politically aware. Head to Raouche, on Beirut's western-facing coast and enjoy the sunset from one of the bars or cafes overlooking Pigeon Rocks -- a monumental natural arch jutting up from the Mediterranean. One of the most extraordinary buildings in Beirut is the National Museum, which stood at one of the most notorious interchanges between the Muslim west of the city and the Christian east during the civil war -- and suffered terrible devastation as a consequence. Now fully restored, it's widely considered one of the world's most stylish museums, encompassing 6,000 years of history that set Beirut's recent problems in perspective. Horse racing is a Lebanese passion -- you can see Arabian thoroughbreds run every Sunday at Beirut's Hippodrome on Abdallah Al-Yafi Avenue.

BE SEEN: The hottest night out in Beirut has to be Crystal -- an ultra-hip, ultra-smart bar-club with a New York vibe that is famous for its champagne cocktails. New arrival Strange Fruit is already making a name for itself on the international club scene. Built in the vast space of a converted cinema, the place really comes alive late at night or at weekends when it fills with Beirut's young, funky and beautiful. Built on the site of one of the civil war's biggest battles, B-018 is a Beirut legend. Check out the retractable roof for a view of the stars and the city. In the Phoenica Inter-Continental Hotel, the Ed Stone nightclub offers a flashback to the jet set Beirut of old. Mixing lavish furnishings with contemporary dance, it's built on the location of the old Paon Rouge Club, which closed its doors at the outbreak of war in the mid-70s. While other Beirut clubs and bars try to forget the war ever happened, 1975 seems to think it's just an unexploited marketing opportunity, with waiters dressed in fatigues, drinks served in old ammunition boxes and sand bags around the walls. Judge for yourself whether it's in good taste.

EAT: Food is a Lebanese fixation, with hundreds of varieties of meze to be tried and tasted. For an old school Lebanese feast, day or night, head to the 24-hour Gemaizeh Café on Gouraud Street, or try Al Majina -- a period Ottoman house on Rue Abel Wahab el-Inglizi that serves Levantine food at its best. Chill out by the sea at the Rawda Café, where Beirut's arty crowd and local stars can be found kicking back with shisha pipes and games of backgammon. Or for pure indulgence head to Tamaris, run by international superchef Alain Ducasse and specializing solely in desserts. One of the most stylish recent additions to Beiruti dining is Asia on Riad El Solh, a modern rooftop restaurant on top of an office building serving a mix of Asian and western foods. With its beautiful courtyard and retractable roof, Centrale on Saifi Street -- designed by renowned Beiruti architect Bernard Khoury -- is a great place to sit and savour the ambience.



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