Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Baalbek

Regional inequalities? In matter of infrastructure?

This is where public investment has to share with the private

December 10, 2018 | English | Daniel Garrote Sanchez
Perpetuating regional inequalities in Lebanon’s infrastructure: The role of public investment

Lebanon has some of the poorest quality public infrastructure in the world.

This deficiency is particularly acute in least developed regions of the country such as Baalbek, Hermel and Akkar.

Electricity, roads, waste management, and water supply are among the most unequally distributed services in terms of geography. (I feel these services are badly rendered everywhere in Lebanon)

Such a gap in infrastructure perpetuates regional inequalities in income and the well-being of the population. (Are health and education infrastructure among the list?)

In recent years, government investment, both at the local and central level, has widened the infrastructure gap between leading and lagging districts, eroding the constitutional principle of equitable territorial development.

This pattern is expected to continue in coming years. While economic growth does not need to be balanced, public institutions should aim at homogenizing living standards across regions, facilitating access to health and education services for the entire population, as well as enhancing mobility to and from regions where jobs are more available.

Note: This should be feasible because Lebanon is a tiny country

 

Remnants of a great past: Lebanese hotel that has remained open since 1874 stands emptied as nearby civil war rages

  •  Hotel Palmyra in the Roman city of Baalbek hosted international figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Charles de Gaulle
  •  It became top destination for tourists and academics looking to visit Roman ruins
  •  Now stands emptied due to growing security concerns in the Bekaa valley, close to the Syrian border
  •  ‘No one has a right to touch Hotel Palmyra, except for time’ defiant owner says

With its windows facing the ancient Roman temple ruins of Heliopolis, the Palmyra hotel in Lebanon’s Baalbek attracted renowned international figures since it opened in 1874. 

Jazz singers Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, late French president Charles de Gaulle and even the Empress of Abyssinia stayed in its sumptuous rooms, admiring the hotel’s long halls decorated with antique Persian and Turkish rugs on the walls and floors.

But now the Palmyra hotel stands emptied in Baalbek, due to the worsening situation in the in the Bekaa Valley, which is close to the Syrian border.

An interior view of the long halls in Palmyra hotel, located in the Roman city of Baalbek, Lebanon

An interior view of the long halls in Palmyra hotel, located in the Roman city of Baalbek, Lebanon

The reception area of the Palmyra hotel. Once a haven for renowned international figures, the Palmyra now stands emptied in Baalbek

The reception area of the Palmyra hotel. Once a haven for renowned international figures, the Palmyra now stands emptied in Baalbek

An interior view of a room where Jean Cocteau, the French writer and artist, stayed as a guest. Cocteau's drawings are framed on the wall

An interior view of a room where Jean Cocteau, the French writer and artist, stayed as a guest. Cocteau’s drawings are framed on the wall

Stepping into the legendary hotel is like a ‘journey into the past’, as owner Rima Husseini puts it.

Built by a Greek entrepreneur following the growing number of tourists in the region, Hotel Palmyra became a top destination for tourists and academics eager to find traces of a European past in the region.

The last German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was a guest at the hotel 1898, sponsored a joint German-Ottoman excavation of Baalbek’s ruins.

During World War II, Palmyra hotel even served as headquarters for the English troops in the area, according to some.

‘So many people have passed through this hotel,’ Husseini recalls in an interview with Great Big Story.

‘But now we are feeling the impact of the war on one side of the border and economic depression in general.

At one point there were no visitors to speak of and that was very difficult’.

Stunning view from the Palmyra hotel overlooking the historical Roman ruins of Baalbek

Stunning view from the Palmyra hotel overlooking the historical Roman ruins of Baalbek

Rusty hotel room keys are pictured at the hotel, which has seen a sharp decline in visitors since the start of the Syrian conflict 

Rusty hotel room keys are pictured at the hotel, which has seen a sharp decline in visitors since the start of the Syrian conflict

There is a persistent smell of carpet, old walls and rusty faucets in the hotel which 'makes you smile' according to the owner 

There is a persistent smell of carpet, old walls and rusty faucets in the hotel which ‘makes you smile’ according to the owner

The hotel’s deserted, dusty interiors, with their antiquated mahogany furniture, relics from the Baalbek ruins and green ostrich skin lampshades, bear memories of a great past which seems to be gone forever.

There is a persistent smell of carpet, old walls and rusty faucets which ‘makes you smile’, according to Husseini. ‘That’s what memories are about,’ she says.

One room, where heavy drapes are pulled back to let the sunlight in, features drawings by the French poet Jean Cocteau framed on the wall.

Stepping into the legendary hotel is like a 'journey into the past', Rima Husseini says

Stepping into the legendary hotel is like a ‘journey into the past’, Rima Husseini says

A Roman head statue decorates the interiors of Hotel Palmyra  

A Roman head statue decorates the interiors of Hotel Palmyra

Pictures of famous guests decorate a wall. Jazz singers Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald stayed in the famous hotel

Pictures of famous guests decorate a wall. Jazz singers Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald stayed in the famous hotel

The personnel has been there since the 1950s, Husseini says, because ‘for them it’s home’.

Ahmad Kassab, who works in the kitchen, has worked in the hotel for 60 years.

‘This hotel runs in my blood. After 60 years you feel something extraordinary. Anything related to this hotel affects me. If I am here or not, it is part of me.’

Despite the sheer decline in visitors, Husseini stands defiant: ‘No one has a right to touch hotel Palmyra, except for time’.

An exterior view of the hotel, which has been built in 1874

An exterior view of the hotel, which has been built in 1874

Another exterior view of the hotel, which is located in the Roman city of Baalbek, in the Bekaa valley 

Another exterior view of the hotel, which is located in the Roman city of Baalbek, in the Bekaa valley

Note: I revisited Baalbek this summer. I asked the guard at the entrance of this hotel and he had no idea what this building is for.

Beirut, Baalbek, Byblos, the Cedars and what else?

The other amazing places to visit in Lebanon

Pamela Hakim shared a link.
From pristine beaches to incredible mountain views, Lebanon has something to offer for everyone’s interests.
stepfeed.com|By Jason Lemon

Lebanon is an incredible tourist destination with its fascinating historical landmarks, pristine beaches, delicious cuisine, stellar night life and picturesque mountains. The country truly offers something for everyone’s taste.

(If you manage to be healthy during your visit, (drinking boiled water, not eating in restaurants…) you can tour Lebanon in less than 2 weeks)

Unfortunately, a lot of tourists miss out on some of the most interesting and unique sites and activities Lebanon has to offer, sticking to a relatively routine travel plan. Visitors get stuck in Beirut and maybe take a day trip south or north, just to say they left the city.

Well, Lebanon definitely has a lot more to offer. Here are 14 of the coolest places to visit in Lebanon that are a bit off the beaten path.

 

1. Zaarour

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Visit Zaarour to take in the breathtaking mountain views and do some off-roading. In the winter you can hit the slopes and enjoy the snow.

 

2. Chekka

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There are few places quite like Chekka in the summer. You can enjoy a relaxing day casually swimming in some of the bluest waters Lebanon has to offer or you can take a leap on the adventurous side.

 

3. Bsharri

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Enjoy the incredible scenery of this mountain village, famous as the hometown of Lebanon’s favorite author and artist, Gibran Khalil Gibran. You can visit Gibran’s former home, now transformed into a museum in his honor.

 

4. Tripoli

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Beirut’s northern neighbor often suffers from bad press but Lebanon’s second-largest city definitely has a lot to offer in culture, cuisine and historic landmarks. Visitors will not be disappointed. The unique architecture International Fair complex designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is a must-see attraction.

 

5. Zahlé

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Zahlé sits picturesquely nestled in a mountain valley of Lebanon offering great locations for scenic strolls, wine tasting and all the comforts of city life at your fingertips.

 

6. Tannourine

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For the outdoor enthusiasts, Tannourine offers an excellent location for hiking, camping, picnicking and even more adventurous activities like rock climbing. And of course, the famous waterfall can’t be missed.

 

7. Rashaya

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The village of Rashaya, in eastern Lebanon, is home to the Citadel of Independence, a fortress where the founding leaders of modern-day Lebanon were imprisoned by the French before the nation was granted independence. Enjoy the history and then take a scenic drive through the surrounding area.

 

8. Baskinta

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Take a break, breath and relax while you enjoy the slow pace of village life in Baskinta, located in Lebanon’s lush green mountains.

 

9. Saida

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Between Beirut and Tyre along Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast, Sidon boasts historic landmarks, beaches and a great place to stroll along the corniche. Maybe some of the local fishermen will even allow you to join them.

 

10. Nahr Ibrahim

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It doesn’t get much better than a relaxing day spent by the river. Enjoy rafting lazily with the current and maybe even make it a weekend affair by bringing your camping gear a long. Just remember, take care of your trash and leave things cleaner than you found them.

 

11. Tyre

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With some of the most pristine beaches Lebanon has to offer, sea turtles and a vibrant city culture, Tyre is an ideal places to spend your summer days.

 

12. Miziara

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Perhaps one of the strangest places in Lebanon, Miziara is home to some massive and unusual homes including one constructed out of an old airplane. This wealthy northern village also boasts incredibly well-maintained and organized streets, something not always the norm throughout the country.

 

13. Deir al Qamar

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Tour the 17th century Fakhreddine Palace, the residence of the famed Druze Prince Fakhreddine. After you snap some selfies with the wax statues inside the palace, head out for a stroll in the alleyways and streets the village.

 

14. Jounieh

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Nestled along the coast to the north, Jounieh’s nightlife rivals the famous party culture of Beirut. During the day, enjoy the beach or try your hand at some water sports. In late afternoon head up, into the mountains so you can paraglide into the sunset before spending your evening dancing in the streets or testing your luck at the Casino du Liban.

Baalbek: The most majestic Temple of all times

The Temple of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon was built more than 1,500 years before the City-State of Rome was constructed, and over 1,000 years before the City-State of Athens emerged.

Andre Geiger maintains that “Both the Acropolis in Athens and the Coliseum in Rome, combined, pale in comparison with the majesty and splendor of Baalbek…”

The Temple of Baalbek is one of mankind history of the loftiest acts and achievement, and it was built by the Canaanites and Phoenician engineering ingenuity and spiritual life-style.

The platform upon which sits the monument is 400-meter-long, 300-m-wide, and 20 meters high.

The Trilithon (the 3 foundation stones)  rise 7 meters, and each stone measuring 4 m-high and 19 m-long. Of the remaining 48 columns that make up the grand temple’s peristyle, the last 6 standing columns feature 19 m high drums, with 3 m-high capitals and a 5-m-high architrave.

Thus, if we add the 20 m-high platform to the 29 m-high of the column, we get  a total of 49 m-high sight.

The colossal square stone, referred to as the “pregnant lady” has the dimensions: 21.5 m by 4 m by 5 m-thick.  This smooth stone totals 433 cubic-meter and weight more than 1,000 metric ton. It requires the strength of 40,000 men to move this stone.

The overall plan of its infrastructure, its architectural scope, the scale of its design and the cyclopean size of the body, especially in the major segments of the foundations, attest to the Phoenician ingenuity.to a religious architectural style, referred to as “Semite”.

It is the same style of the Temple of Eryx in west Sicily, and the same style of the small Temple of Solomon and the Great Mosque in Damascus.

The main features are outdoor courtyards, open-air inner courtyards, side sections reserved for sacrificial rites, purification rituals, covered walkways, special aisles for the faithful, and a “holy of hollies” ensconced in a hidden recess of the sanctuary, reserved for the cult’s dignitaries and initiates.

The inner layout and discrete functionality, the basic floor-plans… are intimately related

It is reported that Solomon commissioned the Phoenicians to build on the site of Baalbek a private shrine, set slightly apart from the main temple.  This shrine was dedicated in the Song of Songs “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from my favorite Lebanon…”

It is not plausible that the Romans decided to build the most majestic of monuments at the confine of its empire, thousands of miles from Rome. It is like France building Versailles in Ouagadougou (Africa) or in the Huran province in south Syria.

The Roman Emperor who restored Baalbek in the mid 3rd century AD was from Syria by origin. And it happened that Rome was planning its biggest celebration of the millennium of its founding.

In order to feel free from wars for this celebration, the Roman emperor made a deal with Persia and paid yearly tax. And the Best monuments in the Empire were restored and refurbished. And Baalbek was the Jewel monument, closest to Persia.

This splendid and spectacular work must have taken decades to finish. It is the culmination of a long-term joint venture, a peace treaty, signed by rich empires, who kept their words, and the monument was a clause in the treaty in order to worship the same Gods, and respect the customs and traditions…

Note 1: All temples in antiquity, including the temples in Greece and Rome emulated the Phoenician style. The Greek and Romans also copied the open-air amphitheaters and race tracks of the Phoenician city-states. The race track in Tyre is a living witness, and dating back to 200 BC, when it was no longer a mighty city.

Note 2: “6,000 years of peaceful contribution to mankind” by late Charles Corm

Note 3: The Phoenicians built the City-State of Thebes in Greece, capital of Boeotia 300 years before Athens emerged as a city. Alexander destroyed Thebes because it refused to acknowledge him king of Greece. It is reported that Alexander ordered that the house of Dionysus is left intact. Why? During a visit of Alexander to Athens, he approached this philosopher who lived in a barrel and asked him “How can I be of help?”. The philosopher replied “Just step aside. Your shadow is blocking my sun”


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