Photo Essays

Reading the Streets of Beirut

by Hrag Vartanian on August 8, 2014

All photographs by the author Hyperallergic

(all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

There are few places I love in this world as much as Beirut. It has an inexplicable appeal that gives me a rush of adrenaline even as I bake under the heat of the Mediterranean sun.

Last month, my husband, Veken, and I wandered the east side of Beirut starting on Rue Gouraud in the Gemmayze neighborhood. We wandered through the neighborhoods of Mar Mickael, Nor Hadjin, Jetawi, Achraffieh, and Sin el Fil looking for art galleries, book shops, restaurants, and street art.

Most of Beirut is a patchwork of Arab communities (Sunni, Shia, Maronite), but there are pockets of old Armenian neighborhoods, particularly along the Beirut River, where legend has it St. George slew the dragon. Walking on the streets you see the cracks between rich and poor, natives and refugees, one creed and another.

On the best days it feels like the streets are talking to you, saying something you couldn’t hear any other way. That day was one of them.

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  • Rafael Schacter

    GREAT!!!!

  • Street I Am

    When I think of places like Beirut I am forced to ponder on what
    fragile threads our current world street culture movement is woven.

    The
    fragile culture of free individual expression developing in Beirut
    street art is now threatened by the new radical Islamic State’s current
    strategic terror march.

    Those who make a living warning of the
    intent the strength and next places the ISIS/ISIL army will conquer have
    batted 1000%. An area from Baghdad to Beirut is the first land mass
    they say ISIL expects to subjugate to its terror culture..

    When a free culture has the ability but refuses to protect its interests it gets the culture it allows.To allow is to assist.

    Take
    a good long look at your new sense of cultural freedom Beirut.
    Celebrate your culture now with the street art you love. You Arabs, you
    Shias, you Maronites. Celebrate, you in the old Armenian neighborhoods,
    particularly along the Beirut River, where legend has it St. George slew the dragon. Celebrate as long and as well, as the will and strength exist to wield the sword of freedom.

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