Basta is a traditional working-class neighbourhood close to the centre of Beirut, full of unique architecture and antique furniture shops. I like to spend a couple of hours here in the area’s hilly streets and get lost in the alleyways of shops selling old record players, vintage Iranian rugs, chandeliers and black and white photographs, amongst other treasures. The area is split into Basta Tahta (lower Basta) and Basta El Fawqa (upper Basta).
It’s one of the city’s key antique districts, and many of the shop owners have been there for years, their businesses handed down to them by their grandfathers and fathers before them. I usually head for the area between the road bridge that separates Basta Tahta and Basta El Fawqa, and the old cemetery.
Basta also has a high concentration of heritage architecture, much of which has otherwise sadly been destroyed in Beirut. Look up above the streets and you’ll find many examples of the rectangular cut stone buildings with fluted pillars and Ottoman-style stained glass windows.