|The Easter garden at Beirut Souks|
The Beirut Souks are dear to my heart. They were a daily destination whenever I visited Beirut with the family while growing up and later when I returned to live here in 1973. My two uncles, Adeeb and Majeed, had shops there, the first in Souk Ayyas and the second in Souk al-Jameel. We would invariably pass by to see them, stopping first to get a fresh drink from the Bourkeh or Pool – a circular traditional outdoor place that at the time served every imaginable fresh juice.
|Bunnies busy setting the table|
|The singing tree|
There were lots of families taking pictures of the children and enjoying the different scenes the rabbits were performing and of the large singing tree. I thought it was an excellent idea and certainly enjoyable for the strollers and visitors.
Beirut Souks, in the major downtown commercial district, have more than 200 shops and have always been the heart of Beirut’s business area. They were also destroyed beyond repair during the 1975-1990 civil war and were rebuilt by Solidere according to
the original grid plan and location while maintaining the landmarks and street names. Many people have a love-hate relationship with the renovated downtown district. But it is always an attraction.
|Beirut Souks (photo via Solidere.com)|
Apart from Souk Ayyas and Souk al-Jameel, there was Souk al-Tawileh and Souk al-Franj, Lebanon’s biggest fruit, vegetable and flower market, where I still remember shopping with my grandfather.
Designed in five separate commissions by international and Lebanese architects, Beirut Souks offer 128,000 square meters of built-up area interspersed with landscaped pedestrian zones. They are divided into two main parts.
The South Souks was designed by architects Rafael Moneo (Spain) and Samir Khairallah & Partners; the Gold Souks by Kevin Dash (UK) and Samir Khairallah & Partners; and the North Souks by Valode et Pistre (France) / Annabel Kassar and Zaha Hadid.
During the restoration, many archeological findings were made and integrated in the landscape, including the ancient Phoenician commercial quarter, the medieval moat, the Mameluk Koranic madrassa of Ibn Iraq al Dimashqi; and the restored mosaics from Byzantine shops in Souk al-Franj.
|Preparing the egg hunt for Easter morning|
|Part of the wall painting|