Visit Beirut National Museum
If you only have time to head to one museum when in the Lebanese Capital, then the Beirut National Museum should be your first choice. It is the biggest and most established, dating back to 1919 as a small collection belonging to a French officer stationed in the country.
Travel back in time at the prehistoric age and be taken through to the Roman, Byzantine and Mamluk periods. Expect to see ancient sculptures, jewelry and artifacts, which have been lovingly preserved and curated. Entry is entirely free and all the exhibits are helpfully labelled in English, French and Arabic.
Explore a museum ravaged by war
There’s a daily documentary called Revival which screens on the hour from 9am to 4pm and tells the fascinating story of how the museum’s staff saved the collection at the time from being ravaged by the 1975 Civil War. You will be amazed at how much they managed to keep safe, using sandbags and concrete, and saddened to hear how many historical artifacts were burned and destroyed. Thankfully, the quick thinking of the museum staff saved hugely important pieces of Lebanese history, which you can enjoy today.
Lebanon’s rich history
Highlights inside include the Neolithic pebble idol from Babos, which is thought to date back to 9,000 BC and is a unique glimpse into very early human history in Lebanon. Look out for gleaming Byzantine era gold jewelry and gilded bronze Phoenician statuettes from Byblos. Incredible stone work can also be seen on the Roman sarcophagus, which depicts scenes of the legend of Achilleus.
Guests at the centrally located Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel, Beirut will not have far to travel after exploring the museum’s exhibits. The building is only 200m away, so take a taxi or enjoy a leisurely stroll in the sunshine.