Stories from Afar & Up Close

Old, abused... replaced

One of my friends who left the country doesn't want to come back because she doesn't recognize Beirut anymore. "The Beirut of my childhood", she says, "is a city full of beautiful buildings, old architecture, low houses with elegant balconies. Now, all I see is ugly high-rises without beauty or soul." Spears Street - above Barbar On the Corniche - one of the last ones

Unfortunately, I don’t know the Beirut of her youth. But sometimes, on a walk around the neighborhood, I catch a glimpse of what it must have been like. It looks beautiful indeed – the stairways outside the house, arched windows, red-tiled roofs, evoking thoughts of times long gone. Damascus and Aleppo (big cities in Syria) are still full of houses like this, with courtyards surrounded by small balconies, a small tiled fountain in the middle. These are the places where the thousand-and-one-night stories still live.

Concorde Wardieh / Jumblatt area Concorde 2 Spears 2

Also unfortunately, these beautiful old Beiruti buildings are not only left to rot and wither away, they are also replaced by towers of glass and cement that leave nothing to the imagination. They mainly just block the view.

Hamra Corniche

See? This way the rich Saudis (and other millionaires from the Gulf who bought these apartments on the Corniche) are the only ones to enjoy the view…