Hamra Street, Beirut’s Champs Elysées

Thursday, 23 September 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Shopping, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Hamra Street © flickr.com - Lolinka/cc-by-2.0

Hamra Street © flickr.com – Lolinka/cc-by-2.0

Hamra Street or Rue Hamra is one of the main streets of the city of Beirut, Lebanon, and one of the main economic and diplomatic hubs of Beirut. It is located in the neighborhood of the same name, Hamra. Its technical name is Rue 31. Due to the numerous sidewalk cafes and theatres, Hamra Street was the centre of intellectual activity in Beirut during the 1960s and 1970s. Before 1975, Hamra Street and the surrounding district was known as Beirut’s trendiest, though in the post-war period it has arguably been eclipsed by Rue Monot in Ashrafieh, Rue Gouraud in Gemmayzeh, Rue Verdun, and downtown area. In the mid 1990s, the Municipality of Beirut gave a face lift to the street to reattract tourists all year round. Hamra Street was known as Beirut’s Champs Elysées as it was frequented by tourists, mostly Americans, Europeans and mega-rich Arabs, all year round. Today it is a commercial district with numerous prestigious universities (such as: American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, and Haigazian University), hotels, furnished apartments, libraries, restaurants and coffee shops, with “78 Street” (commonly known as “the Alleyway”) being Hamra’s main pubbing and clubbing hub.

Hamra Street runs east-west, connecting Beirut Central District with the Ras Beirut neighborhoods. The street begins at the intersection of Rue de Rome and runs west until the intersection of Rue Sadat. Hamra Street is also a walking distance from the American University of Beirut on Bliss Street, Haigazian University on Rue Michel Chiha and the campus of the Lebanese American University as well as Rue Jeanne d’Arc and René Moawad Garden on Rue Spears.

The Los Angeles Times journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Borzou Daragahi described the street as a bastion of liberalism [that] embraces multiple religions and political views; Hamra Street is an amalgam of all of Lebanon’s religious groups, including Sunnis, Maronites, Melkites, Greek Orthodox Christians, Druze, and Shias. Hamra, however, remains Lebanon‘s secular haven, melting pot for free thinkers and the least religiously affiliated area around Beirut as the area hosts a limited number of churches and mosques.

© Freedom's Falcon/cc-by-sa-3.0 Neon lights on Hamra Street © flickr.com - craigfinlay/cc-by-2.0 Rene Moawad Garden © flickr.com - Steven Damron/cc-by-2.0 Eternal Sabah Mural on Assaf building © Magicman678/cc-by-3.0 Hamra Street © flickr.com - Lolinka/cc-by-2.0
<
>
Neon lights on Hamra Street © flickr.com - craigfinlay/cc-by-2.0
It hosts a large number of western chains (including Gloria Jean’s, Caribou Coffee, Costa Coffee and Starbucks), as well as many local shops and restaurants. The appropriately named Cafe Hamra is a restaurant celebrating the historic street with an old street graffiti decor and a variety of international and Lebanese food as well as hookah smoking. Cafe Younes is another popular cafe that was first opened in 1935 and is run by a small family and is run by Amin Younes, the grandson of the founder of the same name. It is also known for its tourist appeal and variety of hotels. Its main landmark is the Crowne Plaza. The street buzzes with life during the summer when many tourists, especially from the Persian Gulf area, flock to Lebanon.

Before the Lebanese civil war, Hamra Street was known as Beirut’s “Champs Elysées” as it was frequented by tourists all year round. Beirut’s Piccadilly Theatre was one of the major theaters in the Middle East. Hamra Street is a first-rate commercial district which proudly displays the latest fads in fashion. It also hosts a good number of hotels, furnished apartments and coffee shops that cater to visitors and students from the nearby American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University and Haigazian University.

Hamra no longer functions as the cosmopolitan bastion of sectarian Lebanon. The Lebanese civil war and the ensuing government regulation that enforced rent control on all of the buildings removed the neighborhood’s elite, pre-war cachet. However, the neighborhood remains trendy and profitable because of:

  1. the historical significance of the neighborhood;
  2. the attraction of “authentic” Beirut to foreign tourists, particularly those from the Persian Gulf;
  3. the historic Hamra red light/supernightclub district, and the present acceptability of opening pubs, bars, and public cafes that serve alcohol in the district;
  4. the current locations of the Lebanese Central Bank (Banque Du Liban), many private banks, multiple major newspapers (As-Safir, the wartime and pre-war headquarters of An-Nahar, and the near neighbors Al-Akhbar and Al-Mustaqbal), and many Lebanese government ministries (including the Ministries of Interior, Information, Tourism, and Economy and Trade), which have existed in Hamra since before the civil war;
  5. the close proximity and economic focal points of three of Lebanon’s most significant universities: the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, and Haigazian University.
  6. the booming commercial scene in Hamra St. that is a combination of retail shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Although it has yet to revive fully its pre-war legacy, Hamra Street has undergone many renovations and is still regarded by many as the heart of the city. While it is no longer the nightlife and commercial center of Beirut, it has become one of many pocket areas and streets scattered throughout the city, and is included with other streets and areas as Rue Monot, Rue Gouraud, and Rue Verdun.

Read more on living-lebanon.com – Hamra, Wikitravel Hamra and Wikipedia Hamra Street (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Theme Week Argentina - San Carlos de Bariloche

Theme Week Argentina - San Carlos de Bariloche

[caption id="attachment_163461" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Civic Centre and port on Lake Nahuel Huapi © Dario Alpern/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]San Carlos de Bariloche, usually known as Bariloche, is a city in the province of Río Negro, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. It is located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park. After development of extensive public works and Alpine-styled architecture, the city emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as a major tourism centr...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Caribbean - Dominica

Theme Week Caribbean - Dominica

[caption id="attachment_232792" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Scotts Head © Postdlf/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island country in the Caribbean. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is geographically situated as part of the Windward Islands chain in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. Dominica's closest neighbours are two constituent territories of the European Union, the overseas departments of France, Guad...

[ read more ]

German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven

German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven

[caption id="attachment_192221" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © PhilippN/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The German Emigration Center (German: Deutsches Auswandererhaus) is a museum located in Bremerhaven, Germany dedicated to the history of German emigration, especially to the United States. It is Europe's largest theme museum about emigration. Visitors can experience the emigration process through interactive exhibits. The museum also provides access to databases of immigration records. The museum with a area of 420...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Russia - Sochi on the Russian Riviera

Theme Week Russia - Sochi on the Russian Riviera

[caption id="attachment_7043" align="aligncenter" width="590"] View on Sochi from Black Sea © Ojj! 600[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, situated on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia and Russia. Greater Sochi sprawls for 145 kilometers (90 mi) along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. The city has a permanent population of 343,000; up from 329,000 recorded in the 2002, making it Russia's largest resort city. Sochi will host the XXII Olympic Winter Games a...

[ read more ]

Hollands seaside resort of Scheveningen

Hollands seaside resort of Scheveningen

[caption id="attachment_159861" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Kurhuis Scheveningen © Arch[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Scheveningen is one of the eight districts of The Hague, as well as a subdistrict (wijk) of that city. Scheveningen is a modern seaside resort with a long sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse. The beach is popular for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding. A nudist section is 1 km to the north. The harbor is used for both fishing and tourism. In 1818, Jacob Pronk constructed a...

[ read more ]

Plymouth in South West England

Plymouth in South West England

[caption id="attachment_151934" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Barbican and harbour © flickr.com - Bex Ross/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the south coast of Devon in England, about 190 miles (310 km) south-west of London. It is situated between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound. Since 1967, the City of Plymouth has included the suburbs of Plympton and Plymstock, which are situated on the east side of the River ...

[ read more ]

The trimaran Hydroptère

The trimaran Hydroptère

[caption id="attachment_153869" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © hydroptere.com[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Hydroptère is an experimental sailing hydrofoil designed by French yachtsman Alain Thébault. Her multihull hydrofoil design allows the sail-powered vessel to reach high speeds on water. The design is based on experience from a range of hydrofoil sailcraft that Thébault built in cooperation with Éric Tabarly since the 1990s. On October 5, 2008 she reached a record speed of 52.86 knots (97.90 km/h; 60.83 mph), howev...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Colombia - Bogotá

Theme Week Colombia - Bogotá

[caption id="attachment_235387" align="aligncenter" width="590"] La Candelaria, the historical district © flickr.com - Pedro Szekely/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Bogotá, officially Bogotá, Distrito Capital, abbreviated Bogotá, D.C., and formerly known as Santa Fe de Bogotá (lit. 'Holy Faith of Bogotá) during the Spanish Colonial period and between 1991 and 2000, is the capital city of Colombia, and one of the largest cities in the world. The city is administered as the Capital District, as well as the capital of,...

[ read more ]

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich

The Cutty Sark in Greenwich

[caption id="attachment_150906" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - Karen Roe/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. Built on the Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest, coming at the end of a long period of design development which halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion. The opening of the Suez Canal (also in 1869) meant that steam ships now enjoyed a much shorter route to C...

[ read more ]

Quadrilatero della moda in Milan

Quadrilatero della moda in Milan

[caption id="attachment_238691" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Via Monte Napoleone © FlavMi/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Quadrilatero della moda (literally "fashion square"), or Via Montenapoleone fashion district, is a high-class shopping district in the centre of the Italian city of Milan, characterised by the presence of numerous boutiques and related retail outlets which represent most of the world's major fashion houses. The sides of the square, located to the south of the arches of Porta Nuova, are...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
City Centre © Rodrigo/cc-by-sa-4.0
Theme Week Hungary – Miskolc

Miskol is a city in northeastern Hungary, known for its heavy industry. With a population of 161,265 (1 Jan 2014)...

Wassily Kandinsky in 1922 by Hugo Erfurth
Portrait: Wassily Kandinsky, expressionist and pioneer of abstract art

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. Kandinsky is generally credited as the pioneer of abstract art....

Danube and Visegrad Castle © Civertan Grafikai Studio/cc-by-3.0
Theme Week Hungary – Visegrád

Visegrád is a small castle town in Pest County, Hungary. It is north of Budapest on the right bank of...

Schließen