Weibdeh Travel Guide. Amman, Jordan
Urban guide to Amman, Jordan by Roba Al-Assi, as published in Gulf Life. A part of a series of three, covering three areas: Jabal Amman, Abdoun, and Weibdeh.
JABAL LWEIBDEHto some of Amman's most exciting artists The slopes overlooking Downtown are home The modern stone villas built into the hillside of the Lweibdeh district are small and tasteful, with none of the kitschy additions that mar much of the contemporary architecture in other parts of Amman. Breaks of pine trees offer the dwellings natural shade from the summer sun and scent the air with a delicious woody smell in the rainy winters. The neighbourhood's little corner shops, family-run patisseries and earthy vegetable stores belong to a time before supermarkets and chain stores. There is a feel of authenticity about Lweibdeh: no frills, no props, no Ammani teenagers playing it cool. The laid-back nature of this part of town has traditionally led to it being favoured by artists and the galleries that represent them. It's not a bohemian art scene, though, but one of good taste and high culture. One of the art centres here, Darat AlFunun  (down the hill from the Luzmila Hospital, +962 6 464 3251), or the "little house of the arts", is perhaps the most beautiful spot in all of Amman. It's actually three houses, all dating from the 1920s and set in beautiful gardens, at the bottom of which are the remains of a small sixth-century Byzantine church that the centre uses for open-air movie screenings and exhibitions. The house caf�, set amidst evergreen trees with sweeping views of the surrounding hillsides, is a fine spot for afternoon tea. While Darat Al-Funun and the nearby Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts  (Hosni Fareez St, +962 6 463 0128), the country's premier showcase for contemporary Arab and Islamic art with a 2,000-strong collection of works, represent the artistic elite, Lweibdeh is also home to many smaller, more experimental art venues. Notable among these is Makan  Darat Al-Funun is a workshop and gallery as well as offering some of the best views of Amman ahaw 2 Hosn i Fare ez National Gallery Park Ibra Jo Bedu Sharia Mosque i St Mo ham med him yam S Al-Z Al-B Toq an aou Abd oS St Stre et tree t t Khay Al-S neya haria Stre et 8 7 4 Paris Square Wadi Sa Al -Imam Ahmad Bin Han b qra a Bu6 tch ers ' St Luzmila Hospital 5 1 lS t Ab du Riy l Mu adh nem St Third Circle a jm Al-M llah St Nad rin ce 3 Al ull -K iya hS t P Mo ham med St 200m Second Circle Shaaban Street 9th The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts houses the country's biggest public art collection . ]6[ . ]7[ ) ( . ]8[ ) ( . Another day, another hill... looking out from Lweibdeh, across Downtown to Achrafieh . 82 GULFLIFE Al-Khal may be known for its falafel, but it also makes the city's best mfaraket beid omelette Q&A Tamer Al-Masri & Michael Makdah Tamer Al-Masri and Michael Makdah are the founders of Jo Bedu, an arts community that organises cultural events. They also have a Jo Bedu Store on Lweibdeh's Khayyam Street. Why did you choose Lweibdeh as a base for Jo Bedu? We're a brand that thrives on creativity and culture, both of which are a big deal in Lweibdeh. What are your top three spots in Lweibdeh? Jo Bedu Store, Jo Bedu Store and Jo Bedu Store. Just kidding! That would be Paris Square, Darat AlFunun and Khayyam Street. How popular is Lweibdeh with Amman's youth? Not very; it's still mainly older residents and the artistic crowd that you'll find up here. As more caf�s open, it will hopefully attract some younger Ammanis � that's the only thing that's missing here. (Nadim Al-Mallah St, +962 6 463 1969); housed in a small villa behind Al-Saadi Mosque, this alternatively minded venue often showcases work deemed too daring for more established galleries, such as Diala Al-Khasawneh's 2008 exhibition The First Bra Boutique, which told the stories of different women and their first bras. Once you've had enough of art, head for pretty Kuleyet Al-Sharia Street. Running from the Sharia Mosque to Paris Square, this is the heart of Lweibdeh. It is where you'll find Al-Khal , a falafel shop that aside from the regular repertoire of deep-fried chickpeas also does Amman's best mfaraket beid (our local version of an omelette). Automat , on Paris Square, is a great old manaqeesh snackbar. Running off the square (it's actually a circle) is what's known locally as Butchers' Street, ( ]1[ ) . . . ) ( ]2[ 2,000 . ]3[ . ) ( � � 2008 . . ]4[ Paris Square is the heart of the Jabal Lweibdeh community . ]5[ GULFLIFE 85 . . . . . . . � � . � � . � � . . . . . . . . 3 . which is always heavy with the aroma of charred kofta. It's also where you'll find Abu Murad , which serves terrific arayes (minced meat) sandwiches. Those with a sweet tooth are also catered for on Jabal Lweibdeh, particularly at Fairuz  (Al-Sharia St), one of Amman's older patisseries, which does top-notch millefeuille and eclairs. For a purer cocoa hit, head to Chocoholic  (Al-Sharia St, +962 6 464 0888), a new coffeeshop serving an array of drinks with chocolate as the prime ingredient, as well as sheesha. Preparing the meat for the arayes sandwiches at Abu Murad )above(. Dar AlAnda )right( is one of the many Lweibdeh mansions which have become art galleries )( .)( Darat Al-Funun )left( often has artists in residence and provides work space and a reading room )( GULFLIFE 87