One of the reason why I really wanted to visit Lebanon, besides – of course – the amazing food, was Beirut street art scene. Ever since I’ve seen a picture of colorful stairs I knew I want to see them in real life. I know that these days every second city has either the umbrellas covered street or the colorful stairs but those in Beirut were the very first I’ve ever seen. I kind of felt like it would be a dream coming true.
Background of Beirut street art
As you most likely know not so long ago Lebanon and especially Beirut were torn by the cruel civil war. That’s also when Beirut street art, especially stencils, was introduced as part of the propaganda. These days the walls of Beirut are still full of political and social slogans like no other place I’ve visited and the bullet holes are transformed to street art pieces.
In recent years a very distinctive style was developed on the walls of Beirut – Calligraffti. I’ve never seen it anywhere else but it surely looks beautiful. Some local artists, including Yazan Halwani (who portraits famous Beirut residents), Ali Rafei or Mohamed and Omar Kabbani of Ashekman, are especially know for this style.
Where to find street art in Beirut
I was really lucky when visiting Beirut. My accommodation was in Gemmayze, the alternative district of the city where even the back lane leading to the hostel was full of street art. Every time I walked around, in any direction, I spotted some new pieces, hidden on the walls, behind leaves, in the corners. Each walk was a treat!
From Gemmayze it was just a short walk to Mar Mikhael, another area with even more street art, the school bus graveyard and the famous colorful stairs – I’ve found four of them! If you’re after Beirut street art other areas you should check include Hamra, Monot or Sursock – that’s where I found some good works too! Even the benches along Corniche – the seaside promenade – were part of the local art project.
Beirut felt like a street art playground for me, the city didn’t disappoint at all! It wasn’t the typical street art destination, with lots of beautiful paintings. Instead the majority of Beirut street art was powerful, made you think and reflect of political and social issues. It really seemed that some sort of revolution is happening on the walls of Beirut.
Now let me show you some more Beirut street art!
If you’d like to read more about street art from around the world these articles might interest you:
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