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Gay Beirut

By the water:

At sunset, locals like to walk along the seaside Cornish at Raouché. At Pigeon Rocks, the famous landmark here, many people come to meet and linger in the pleasant evening summertime air and to enjoy meals at cliff-side cafes. A sandy beach at the end of the Cornish is one of Lebanon's best - called Ramlet el Bayda or White Sand Beach.

The Al-Nouzha Turkish Bath in Basta Tahta, provides authentic scrubdowns. The sauna, steam room and massage facilities will refresh and amuse with casual (and discreet) glances between patrons. Men-only, except during Monday morning women's hours. The swimming pool at the St Georges Yacht Club is another popular gay favorite for cooling off, and sometimes (again discreetly) for getting hot.


* Souk El Tayeb Held every Saturday in the Saifi village downtown between 9AM-2PM, feed your soul as well as your face in Beirut's first organic farmer's market. Promoting traditional methods of farming and preserving, it's a great place to pick up local honey, cheese and breads, plus artisans' crafts. It also runs regular cookery classes, to learn how to make that perfect tabouleh (bulgur salad).

* Sunday Market Get up early and join the locals for a rummage at the Sunday Market which opens between 7AM and 1PM, next to Beirut River in the east. You might find antique jewellery, clothing and beads, or maybe just bric-a-brac, but there's an eclectic selection of goodies on show. Remember to bargain hard!

* Burj Hammoud Beirut's Armenian quarter, perfect place to shop for cheap bric-a-brac, artisan's crafts, souvenirs, copper and brass ware and faus-brands. Don't forget to haggle. Burj Hammoud is located to the East of Ashrafieh across the Beirut River.

The most impressive of museums here is the Beirut National Museum with items from prehistory and the Bronze Age; Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine era exhibits; also the story of the Arab conquest and Mamelouk times. The Sursock Museum is an 18-19th century mansion in the Ashrafieh district, now a modern art museum, known for the beautiful example of a saloon, typical of the way prominent aristocratic families of Beirut once lived. Modern works of Lebanese and international artists are exhibited here, as well as Japanese engravings and Islamic art in their permanent collection.

Archaeological museums are to be found at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and the Prehistory Museum of St Joseph University. For a more complete list, see local guides.

Downtown Beirut, itself an open museum worthy of city of 5,000 years, has archaeological ruins such as the Roman baths behind Bank Street. A five-column colonnade between Nejmeh Square and the Great Mosque, was once part of the Roman basilica.The old Roman road runs by St George Orthodox Cathedral (1767), and on through areas of the ancient city of Berytus - dating from 3000 years ago.  What was originally the Crusader's Cathedral of St John (1113-1115 A.D), was transformed by the Mamelouks into the city's Grand Mosque, in 1291. Other great mosques include the Amir 'Assaf Mosque built by Emir Mansour 'Assaf (1572-1580); the Amir munzer Mosque (1620); and the Majidjiyyeh Mosque, named for the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Majid I.