Beirut ranks among world’s 10 liveliest cities.
Rachana Lebanon.
Video sul Libano.


It was once known as one of the most dangerous cities on earth, with the mere mention of its name conjuring up images of civil war, kidnap and destruction. But Beirut’s revival as one of the world’s most vibrant cities has been confirmed by the travel guidebook company Lonely palnet, who have named it one of the most lively cities on the planet.

The guidebook publishers have placed the capita on a par with Shangai, Lisbon and Mexico City on a list which will appear in a new “Best in Travel” guidebook to be published next month.

Rather than glossing over Beirut’s difficult past, the travel company cities it as part of what makes the city unique.

The authors pay tribute to the revival seen since the end of the devastating 1975-1990 Civil War that left large parts of the city in ruins. “Beirut really took a beating during the lebanon’s long civil war,” the guidebook states. “The city underwent a major transformation in the years following the cessation of hostilities, particularly in the downtown area, and it’s now a city of vibrancy and charm.”

La Baia di Jounieh - luglio 2009.

La Baia di Jounieh - luglio 2009.

Beirut’s reputation as the party capital of the Middle east, combined with the ongoing political uncertainty that palgues Lebanon makes for a heady mix, the book suggests. It cites major events such as the Beirut.

International Film Festival and the annual Beirut Marathon as evidence that the city that used to be known as the “Paris of  the Middle East” is on its way to its former glory.

Other cities on the new list range from the seadte Belgian city of Antwep to the tough Scottish industrial city of Galsgow. The CHINESE boom-town of Shanghai, Portuguese capital Lisbon and Polish capital Warsaw all appaer, as well as Switzerland’s second city, Zurich, Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Mexico City.

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Photo by Catalina Naddaf: Basbous Atelier.

RACHANA’S name is derived from the Phoenician language, meaning “the small peak”, originally resonated only with this coastal Lebanese village’s population of less than 1000 inhabitants; now however , for people around the word, Rachana immediately calls to mind the Basbous brothers (Michel, Youssef and Alfred) who were amongst Lebanon’s finest sculptors and the source of Rachana’s fame.

Photo by Catalina Naddaf: Rachana view.

In the middle of the 20th century, Rachana’s name gained significance in the field of arts when the Basbous brothers spread their sculptures all over the town, transforming it into an open air museum. This talent was passed on the second generation of basbous family, who preserved the family’s art school.

In 1994, the brothers Alfred and Youssef Basbous hosted the “International Sculptor Atelier” in Rachana, through which a number of international sculptors of different nationalities left their works in the village. This event still takes during the month of August of each year, and new sculptures are added every year alongside the sculptures family. As a result of this active sculpture project, Rachana has been the “International Capital of Sculpture in Open Air” by UNESCO.

The garden in front of their studio is an ecletic collection of the sacred and the profane sculptures.

Alfred died at the age of 82 on January 1, 2006, after a long battle with cancer. His brothers, Michel and Youssef, had died in 1981 and 2001, respectively. No clear successor to their talent has emerged In Lebanon, and Alfred’s vision of Rachana’s status as an international center of culture for years to come will most likely be realized.

Photo by Catalina Naddaf: Basbous brothers.

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