CELTA in Beirut, the 'Wild Child' of the Middle East
Perched on the med and surrounded by the dramatic backdrop of the towering Lebanon Mountains, Beirut is an intoxicating city of contrasts. If you are looking for a relaxing and tranquil haven in which to take your CELTA course then the chaotic and traffic choked Lebanese capital is most certainly not for you. However if you are looking for a dose of fascinating history and to sample some of the world’s finest cuisine amongst some of the friendliest and most hospitable people you will meet on the planet then Beirut is ready is for you. In 2012 the city was voted by “Conde Nast” travel magazine as the best city in the Middle East ahead of its more famous counterparts, Tel-Aviv and Dubai.
History Culture and Religion
The Byzantines, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and the French have all ruled over the city and have all left their mark in varying degrees, whether it be from the Maronite church spires to the tasty, fresh roadside baguettes on sale. After the French left the population of the city boomed and Beirut became a magnate for foreign tourists and people looking for some rest and recuperation while stationed in the Middle East. During this time the city became known as “Paris of the East”. The city is composed of nine distinct religious groups with many Christian, Muslim and Jewish denominations covered.
The city undeniably has a dark side to its history. In 1974, civil war erupted between the Muslim and Christians populations of the city and thousands lost their lives and their homes. In 1982 and then again in 2006 the Israel – Lebanon War brought destruction to the streets of Beirut but the city has done what it does best, which is repair (most) of the potholes and move on with life. In fact, since 2011 the landscape of the downtown area has changed dramatically and the area is now home to many lofty skyscrapers housing advertising firms and fashion houses only minutes from where the old green line used to be which divided Muslim and Christian populations during the war.
For those interested in the captivating history of the city, the National Museum of Beirut is definitely worth checking out. The museum houses an impressive and superbly displayed collection of archaeological artefacts and offers a fantastic overview of the city’s history. Make sure to grab one of the free interactive I-Pads at the front desk which will give you a commentary that will really bring the history to life.
Food & Nightlife
One of the most rewarding aspects about being based in the city for the month is that you will get to explore the myriad of fabulous restaurants that the city has to offer. Lebanese cuisine is a distinct mixture of Ottoman, French and home-grown influences. It is low on fats and uses fresh seasonal ingredients smattered with plenty of olive oil and garlic. Some places that get a good name are Tawlet, a brilliant place to sample regional dishes, Karam, which does some of the best mezze in the city and Kebab-ji, which offers hearty kebabs and Lebanese sandwiches on the go.
Beiruti's take their fashion, bars and clubbing seriously and to see the modern secular face of Lebanon check out one the student quarter of Hamra where the crowd parties until dawn every night of the week. One of the most unique clubs on the Beirut scene is “Treesome” which is an outdoor club built around a live Olive Tree. If you want to join the kids that are a bit too cool for school then head down to “Ferdinand” which serves fantastic mojitos and wouldn't look out of place in Shoreditch or East Berlin.
If you would prefer a more low-key evening then grab a plastic chair and head down to the Corniche promenade and smoke a Hookah with the locals while watching the world go by.
CELTA in Beirut
This summer the Beirut centre training has courses starting on both the 06th of July and the 10th of August so get in touch if you wish to experience the delights of the city in summertime. Visa's for Lebanon are easy to obtain for those coming from other parts of the Middle East and also for citizens of central Asia.