Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Gianluca Mezzofiore

 

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.

Chemical attacks in Syria? Is it a matter of point of view or point of attack?

It seems that not many people are sure that hundreds in Syrians were target of chemical attacks.

Photos show the dead and injured, and videos are backing claims of mass murder events.

Is it a point of view or point of attack that are blurring the lines between reality and fiction?

I decided to posts two articles, representing the pro-Syrian government media and another voicing the opinion of the “insurgents”

Syria: Chemical Attack in Ghouta “an Accident Caused by Free Syrian Army”

  published this August 21, 2013:

The attack that killed over 200 people in the Damascus suburbs could be an accident caused by a riot control agent, and those responsible may be a faction of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and not the Assad regime, according to a chemical weapons specialist.

Syrian opposition activists claim that rockets loaded with toxic agents were launched towards the suburbs of the Ghouta region at 3 am, killing more than 570 people, mostly women and children. Horrific footage of people being treated in makeshift hospitals and many children suffocating, having convulsions or laying immobile emerged on social media.

Gwyn Winfield, editorial director at CBRNe World, a magazine specializing in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, told IBTimes UK that it is difficult to identify an agent by the signs and symptoms alone.

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“We can say there is some form of chemical used. But until we take blood samples, samples of the soil and the water in the area we can’t say that a chemical agent has been used,” he said.

“It can be a riot control agent, like in the recent Egyptian case of the tear gas used in the back of a van that killed 36 prisoners. We have the same symptoms in the children and casualties.”

Symptoms of those hit by the attack include nausea, hallucinations, suffocation, hard coughing, high blood pressure, seizures and a post-death gargle, according to Syrian blogger Enas, from Amman in Jordan.

In response to the initial reports, the Syrian government has denied that chemical weapons were used.

Winfield said he finds it “suspicious” that in the week UN inspectors enter the country with the acquiescence of Assad, the Government welcomes them with a chemical weapons missile barrage.

“It is not impossible that some faction in the Free Syrian Army did it to get attention, or maybe it was an accident by an inexperienced operator who may have not realized what he was doing.”

The security expert said there are numerous cases of riot agent used in a lethal way, for example in confined spaces and not to disperse a crowd.

He added that the idea that the FSA is single and unified is “a myth,” because “there are different factions and something like that could be a win/win for them: launch the attack and raise amount of profile of their cause by the UN.”

Winfield said that more than 570 victims, if confirmed, are a lot of people in a not densely populated area. “It means the attack targeted a large area and it is not an isolated incident. If there are 570 fatalities it would suggest that evidence of what it is will not be hard to find.”

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer at the UK’s Joint Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Regiment, told the BBC’s Today program that the footage was “horrific” and agreed that it would be “very difficult to stage-manage”.

The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he is “concerned” by reports of a chemical attack…

The Revolting Syrian posted:

Aug 21, 2013 – At approximately 3:00 am in Damascus, a year to the day after Obama’s infamous “red line” speech warning Assad about using chemical weapons, and as a specialized UN inspection team sleep in their hotels in Damascus, ostensibly there to investigate a CW attack 6 months ago, Assad launched his largest, most wide scale and most deadly attack using chemical weapons on the Damascus suburbs of Zamallaka and Ein Turma in the Eastern Ghouta area.

The fallout from the attack was also felt in many of the surrounding districts.

Preliminary reports are that close to 600 people have been killed so far with thousands more injured from the effects of the gas which some are claiming, based on the symptoms seen, to be “weaponized cyanide

In two days, you and the rest of the world will forget about this massacre the same way you forgot about the rest that have happened over the last 2+ years in Syria.
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We Syrians however, will never forget. Not the martyrs and not the way the rest of the world sat by and watched this happen to us.
A morbid list of at least 75 videos from today’s attack compiled by @Brown_Moses here
A comprehensive list and description of the attacks by @RSyrianCivilWar here

Note 1: Many countries are producing modified tear gas agents, far more potent to disperse mass demonstrators and deadly in many cases.  The tear gas have killed many in Egypt, Turkey, Palestine and Tunisia, Pakistan, Thailand…

Note 2: In these bad times, it is highly plausible that dark forces have switched, tampered, or transposed canisters with lethal gases. And nobody is about to admit that he was fooled, had, or did the dirty operation…

Note 3: A plausible alternative was that the Syrian army bombed the town of Jerba and hit nerve gas reserves stored by the rebels in tunnels… Apparently, antidote nerve gas were discovered in the tunnels…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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