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Hanging out

Hanging out in Zouk Mikael

ZOUK MIKAEL | Lebanon Travel Guide - June 17, 2014, 08h18
Par Nada Akl
 Zouk Mikael
Credit photo: mon-tour.fr

In 1999, UNESCO chose Zouk as “City of Peace”. In this little town of Kesrouan, the municipality has created a haven offering cultural activities, affordable entertainment for kids, and promoting Zouk’s traditional crafts.

The town’s Ottoman era old souk, renovated and restored in 1995 is where talented local craftsmen have been practicing their art for generations. The pedestrian alley with numerous shops and cafés is empty around noon when most shopkeepers go home for lunch but the place comes to life in the afternoon. Until late in the evening, it’s where you can browse for souvenirs, get acquainted with local craftsmen or just enjoy an arguileh as you listen to old Feyruz tunes.

The magic of nawl
Zouk MikaelNawl weaving is Zouk Mikael’s pride. It takes about a week to create a scarf and 12 days for a abaya but Michel Salmouni doesn’t mind taking the time to do things right and the delicately weaved fine fabric is well worth the trouble.

When he started out with his father in 1935, people used to come for weaved curtains, tablecloth and sofa covers… no-one wants those anymore but the old pieces he created so long ago are now safeguarded in the Zouk Home of the Artisan. “They even took the useless ruined fabrics” he laughs.

People to meet 
Here work keeps people young and fit. Who would have guessed that Joseph Trad has been in the upholstery business since 1952? It is in this very workshop that he started working when he was just 20 years old, we won’t say his age but you can do the math.

The public garden

The public garden is where teenagers come to chill out in the afternoon, and where the younger kids can run around and play ball in a green environment without having to worry about cars passing by. The worst that could happen here is someone getting a minor scratch after trying a stunt on the swings and there’s a nurse on duty in case that happens. The small Roman Theater is meant to accommodate cultural educational events but it is more often used for improvised football competitions or games og truth or dare.
On summer Sundays, you’ll often see a bride making a stop to pose for pictures under a tree or a birthday being celebrated in the cafeteria. In August and July, the real fiesta happens on Thursday at 6:00 pm. That’s when the Kids Power teams comes to sing and dance in Zouk (entrance is 5000LL) .

The garden is open every day from 9 am to 9 pm; entrance is a token 500 LL for maintenance.

The House of Culture and Youth

One of the latest additions to the local cultural scene is House of Culture and Youth inaugurated in April 2009. In a beautiful setting showcasing traditional architecture, it has a public library of more than 4,500 books and equipped with 10 computers as well as a theater, a coffee shop and a ciné-club. There’s plenty going on here: Italian classes, Scrabble club, chess club…

There’s so much to see. The open air Roman style amphitheaters hosts live concerts in the summer as well as a yearly fashion show presented by ESMOD students. When you go, take a look at other landmarks of the town where you can visit beautiful XVII century churches and monasteries, the home of the artisans where traditional craft is displayed and the Abu Chabke Museum where you can still hear the poet whispering enchanting verses.

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#Balades, #CitiesofLebanon
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