Achrafiyeh is located to the east of Beirut, perched on a hill. Before the 30's, it was inhabited by a limited number of Beiruti families, then became a growing agglomeration during the sixties and had its population multiply in numbers during the Lebanese war (1975-1991) as people were moving away from demarcation lines. Nowadays, Achrafiyeh is a residential neighborhood and a prosperous commercial area par excellence, and its location allows it to be an administrative zone that is the banks' and maritime companies' choice, as it neighbors downtown Beirut and the Beirut port. However, this doesn't mean that Achrafiyeh and its “Sassine square” don't enjoy a bustling nightlife, without forgetting the shops, the commercial centers, the movie theaters, the restaurants, and the nightclubs.
It is a residential area which includes Muqbil Palace and Lady Sursock Kokrin’s Palace. The Sursock Palace was built in 1902 and transformed into a museum in 1952.
Furn el Hayek
Furn EL-Hayek includes many old buildings which reflect the richness of the Lebanese architectural art in the early decades of the twentieth century; in 1924, the engineer, Joseph Aphtimos, built the Barakat Villa, which is in “Sodeco” district. Furn el Hayek district also includes Lebanon Street, Shehadeh Street, Salim Bustros Street, and Abdel Wahab el Inglizi Street. It abounds with old buildings and houses.
The Monot Street
Originally a residential neighborhood, this street was the location of the demarcation line during the war and was nearly destroyed. New buildings were erected after the war, while the old ones were renovated and turned into pubs and restaurants.
Mostly residential, the neighborhood maintains its architectural and social authenticity while opening up to modernity. The neighborhood evolved almost ten years ago, and nowadays, it sports the St. Nicolas stairway that constitutes a unique public and cultural space where artists and painters exhibit their works. Today, Gemmayzeh is the place to be for the spirited Lebanese youngsters who enjoy its particular ambiance.
Situated to the west of Beirut, Hamra is a fascinating street that boasts several shops, businesses, hotels, cinemas, theaters, and residential neighborhoods. It offers sundry points of attraction, but most of all, it is the first choice for students who seek some rest and exuberance in Hamra due to its proximity to the American University of Beirut. The neighborhood is home to many designer shops and small businesses and offers a wide array of choices for strollers and tourists with a shopping whim.
Situated a little further than Hamra, this neighborhood witnessed considerable economic growth in the late 90's. It is known for being a crossroad for cultures and business, and it is the first choice of several companies and banks, without forgetting its reputation as a neighborhood that sports luxurious apartments where Arab and foreign tourists seek refuge. The neighborhood is also home to several designer shops, prominent Lebanese designers, and hotels.
Between Hamra and the City Center lies Clemenceau district which includes some villas owned by bourgeois families such as the Junblats and the Daouks. In this district there is a green area on which the High School of Business (ESA) is built; this building was constructed in 1862 by the Friary of Saint John in order to build a hospital.
Zoqaq el Blat
The last Turkish bath lies in the district of Zoqaq el Blat near el Murr Tower at the south-western side of the City Center. This Turkish bath was opened in 1920 and it includes a sauna hall and a massage hall as well as a bath. On Monday mornings, it is opened for women and for the rest of the week it is used for men only. Zoqaq el Blat includes a number of old buildings such as Hnaineh Palace and Ziadeh Palace, which are currently almost destroyed. There is also Robert Moawad Palace, which has been transformed into a museum.
Rawcheh and the Corniche
The al Manara (lighthouse) cornice stretches between Ain-EI-Mrayyseh and Ras Beirut. The corniche runs alongside the sea, offering the strollers a relaxation space where you can find joggers and lovers enjoying their time. The neighborhood is known for its sea resorts and hotels, and many restaurants and cafes sit at the roadside offering the visitors scrumptious cuisine and a relaxing panoramic view. The Beirut lighthouse borders the corniche from the south, and the street was named after it. It is worth mentioning that several prehistoric tools were found near the pigeon grotto (Rawcheh, and those tools can be found at the Lebanese Prehistory Museum (USJ).
The name "Rawcheh" is in fact nothing but the Arabic version of the word "rocher", french for "rock". These 2 large rocks broke up with the earth and are currently standing 60 meters tall as if they were keeping watch over the place.
The hotels' neighborhood
It is the area that stretches between downtown Beirut and Ain el Mreyseh corniche. It is known for the large number of national and international hotels, such as the St. George Yacht club that was built in 1933 following the most modern architecture back then. The hotel had its share of destruction during the Lebanese conflict and still awaits repairs, namely after the attack that claimed the life of the former Lebanese PM Rafik el Hariri in 2005.
The neighborhood also includes the "Intercontinental Phoenicia" hotel that was built in 1961. The hotel was completely restored after the war and boasts an elegant modernity. It hosted the 2000 Arab summit and the 2001 French-speaking world summit, as well as many local and international conferences and colloquia.