Look beyond the famous ruins of Byblos to find local traditions that are very much alive. Social entrepreneur and philanthropist Alice Eddé takes us on a tour through the old souks, unveiling six little treasures in one of Lebanon’s most beloved towns.
Head north out of Beirut towards Tripoli and exit the highway at Fidar. Look out for the Fidar Bridge and the Roman aqueduct over the Adonis River, which once served fresh water from the mountain springs to the people of Byblos. Follow the old coastal road and park when you reach the Old Town of Byblos.
Witness the ancient art of embroidery in the skilled hands of a mother and daughter duo at Ebre wa Khayt (03 462512). They combine an old craft with modern technologies to create bespoke needlework and screen-printed linens, towels and accessories.
There is no better place to pick up literature from or about Lebanon than at Gibran’s Lebanon (09 542226). Flick through books written by celebrated Lebanese authors, including Amin Maalouf, Alexandre Najjar, Ambra Salam and of course the works of Gibran Khalil Gibran himself. Championing local designers, it’s also a good spot for handmade crafts.
Watch Armenian metalworker Vahe Hamparsoumian (03 741371) transforming light sheet metal into arguileh boxes, square vases and even bar counters at his workshop, housed in a beautiful arcade. Vahe, whose craft has been handed down from his father and grandfather, works with great passion and pride.
At Eddé’s Herbs (03 742332), aromatic herbs and spices that have long seduced passers-by are delightfully displayed in pottery and baskets. If you’re looking for sumac, thyme or other distinctive Lebanese flavors, you won’t be disappointed.
Discover the only fish fossils to emerge from the Middle East at Memory of Time (09 540444). Excavated from the paleontologist and shop-owner’s land, the fossils are incredibly detailed and available to purchase.
Refuel with a local specialty snack at AbiAssaf (09 546489), located between the Serail and Byblos Bank. Sample the Kaak de Byblos – puffy, crispy, sesame-seed covered balls, enjoyed plain or with a scoop of labneh.