BEIRUT: Nothing can reveal the authenticity of culture like meeting its people, its territories, and its every detail can. For that reason, to understand a culture, one must live it.
“Bourj Hammoud - Walking Tour with Street Food” takes participants on an introductory tour to explore the Armenian culture and engage with it.
With the support of “Living Lebanon,” a platform on living, traveling, and tourism in Lebanon, this tour takes place every Tuesday on a weekly basis, welcoming participants from various backgrounds, and allowing them to understand the cultural features of this place.
Yerevant Shallagian, the founder of this tour, was born and raised in Bourj Hammoud. His love for Bourj Hammoud and his passion for the Armenian culture encouraged him to work on this project as a way to promote his culture and background.
“It first started when I was taking my foreigner friends on tours in the city,” Shalligan told Annahar. “With every tour, I love Bourj Hammoud even more.”
While roaming in the streets of Bourj Hammoud, one can notice how humble the streets and people are. The city is most famous for its crafts and local workshops. During the tour, Shallagian introduces different aspects of the Armenian culture, focusing on its history, language, and religion.
To simulate the experience, the tour program includes visiting churches and local workshops, such as carpentry, embroidery, bag, and shoemaking, which are prominent Armenian crafts.
Food tasting is also featured in authentic bakeries and restaurants, as well as visitations to art galleries and one of the leading Armenian schools in Lebanon.
The tour’s aim is to promote the Armenian culture and keep its heritage alive in Lebanon, considering that Bourj Hammoud is where Armenians have maintained their customs and traditions for centuries.
“It’s very important for us to understand how Armenians have worked on preserving their culture in Bourj Hammoud, especially that Lebanon is not an Armenian country,” said Shallagian.
Armenians grew in Lebanon from a population of around 80 people that fled genocide to become a civilization of 15000 in Bourj Hammoud only.
According to Shalligian, the Lebanese and the Armenians have always lived in harmony in Lebanon, and this can be seen in the streets of Bourj Hammoud. “I think we have to understand how the Armenians grew into a civilization with their own traditions and customs,” he added.
Liesbet Debecker, a European participant, told Annahar: “I’ve always wanted to know more about this culture because I believe not many people know of it,” adding: “What I liked about this tour the most is that it’s very local, and I had the chance to discover local places and communicate with local people.”
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