Category Archives: Old Lebanon

How Beirut Martyrs Square Looked in 1995

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1995 solidere Solidere, Beirut – 1995. From Traces of War, Fouad Elkoury

Here’s a rare video shared by Old Beirut of Martyrs Square and its surrounding back in 1995. Saifi village, Al Amin Mosque, Virgin Megastore and several other buildings weren’t built yet. I think the only two major buildings that remain untouched till today are Burj el Murr and the bullet-scarred Holiday Inn Hotel.

PS: I’m gonna try dig out old Beirut pictures from 1995 and compare them with recent pictures.

Meet Tarek Abou Al Dahab: Former Lebanese Cyclist Champion & Olympic Athlete in 1968 and 1972

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Aboudahab Source: AbdoGedeon

A Facebook post caught my attention last week about a former racing cyclist in Beirut called Abou el Dahab who runs his own bicycle shop with his son Osama in Zarif in Beirut. Abou el Dahab is 76 years old but he’s still an active cyclist and exercises everyday for 30 minutes in his small shop according to the post.

dahab Picture via Mohamad Cheblak

Tarek Abou el Dahab is also a Lebanese Olympian. He began competing in cycling events at the age of 18 in Paris where he was preparing for the road World Championship in Reims. Abou el Dahab won four Lebanese championships and qualified twice for the Olympic games in Mexico in 1968 and Munich in 1972. I looked online for the results of these two Olympics and found that Tarek did not finish the field race (Cycling) in 1968 and 1972 (there were a lot of DNFs) but did have a time in the 1972 track event.

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I found another article translated from Cyclopaedia by TheRustySquill about el Dahab. It says that he took part in the Clermont-Ferrand race in 1961, finished eleventh at the Four-Cantons race in Switzerland and also took part in the International Peace Race in 1962 (Berlin-Prague-Warsaw). More recently, Abou el Dahab was invited in 2012 for the 60th anniversary of the Peace Race in Germany where he was rewarded and reunited with former cyclist Tave Schur but I can’t find any sources that link to that story. Gustav-Adolf Schur (“Täve” Schur) is a former German cyclist and one of the most popular sportspeople in East Germany. He’s also the first German to win the Peace Race.

dahab1 Source: AbdoGedeon

I’d love to visit his shop one day and get to know him. I doubt that he ever got any recognition from the Lebanese authorities but he’s a true champion and people should know about him. I don’t know where his shop is in Zarif (Sanayeh) exactly but the author of the FB post shared his son’s mobile number Osama which is 70 039 787.

tarek Tarek Abou el Dahab at Peace Race – Source: atewebsite

rapha Tarek Abou el Dahab Source: atewebsite

8 Stunning Pictures From Inside Lamartine/ Mezher’s Palace, Hammana

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La Martine Palace  3 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

The famous Mezher palace located in Hammana and overlooking the valley was once the residence of the famous French poet and statesman Alphonse de Lamartine. The Mezher palace was dubbed the Poet’s dream and quoting Lamartine* “surpasses in elegance, grace and nobility all that I have ever seen of its kind; It may be compared only to one of our most marvelous Gothic castles of the Middle Ages”. The 19th century poet went on to describe the surrounding Hammana valley as “one of the most beautiful views that men have ever beheld, an opportunity to paint the creation of God”, and that “painting or words can describe only one detail of the fairy like treasure with which the Creator endowed Lebanon. The greenery, the trees, the orchards and the forest are renowned, going down in succession and filling the valley with their riches…”.

Lamartine lived there with his wife, and his daughter Julia. In 1933, a French mission visited Hammana and placed commemorative plaque inside the palace in the room where the great poet had slept.

My friend Jad Ghorayeb was visiting the palace last week and was able to get inside and take some stunning pictures which I’m sharing. The Mezher palace is a private residence and its owners have kept its authenticity and beautiful appearance throughout the years.

The pictures are shared with Jad’s consent of course. Make sure to follow his [Instagram page] as he explores hidden gems from all around the country.

LaMartine Old Photo Credits: Amine Saad

Hammana Village of Ba’abda Kaza is located on the Western Lebanese Mountains’ chain at an altitude of 1200 m making it best as an ideal summer resort . The word “Hammana” may have come from the name of the Phoenician god of the Sun “Hammon” or “Hamman”. These two names are derived from the word “Hama” that means: The Heat Of the Sun.

Hammana was first full of Muslim Druze families but from the 16th and 17th centuries on wards, Christians flowed into Hammana at the invitation of Druze Leaders, coming as farmers, technicians, workers and craftsmen. The Mezher Muqqaddameen received them with open arms, giving them free pieces of lands , while Abu Hussein Mezher allowed them to build churches so to pray and practice their religion. Source: Baldati

La Martine Palace 6 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace 2 - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  10 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  9 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  7 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

foutain la martine Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

* Source: Voyages en Orient – 1835.

A Dive From The Top Of Raouche Back in 1983

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There are very few documented jumps from the Raouche rock but apparently it was quite common back in the old days and people would do it to show off not to commit suicide. The below video is taken from a 1983 Lebanese movie called “عودة البطل” (Hero’s return) where a stuntman called Mohammad Itani dove from the top instead of the actor Mohammad Mawla. According to NostalgiaLB, Itani was used to jumping off the Pigeon Rock.

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He definitely looked relaxed jumping off the Raouche rock.

Rare Beirut Pictures From The UNEF’s Diary (1965-1966)

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Beirut1965X

UNEF (United Nations Emergency Force) Captain Gord Jenkins stayed in Beirut between 1965 and 1966 and kept a diary of his stay with his wife Jan which includes a lot of awesome and rare pictures. Here’s what he said about Lebanon:

Beirut Lebanon had become increasingly important for 115 ATU and -instead of Cairo- Beirut became the main closest supply base for parts ,equipment and food- if you had the money in those days you could buy anything in Beirut. There also was a rest camp in the cool Lebanese hills behind Beirut fot UNEF 1 troops.

Beirut in 1965 and 1966 was quiet and bustling crossroads city – fascinating place to be in – and my wife Jan and I were there – and stayed there for an extended posting.

I selected 10 of the 100+ pictures found in his archives.

WestBeirutTheSportingClub Sporting Club – Beirut

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BeirutIrport-waitingForElArishCrribou Beirut Airport

StreetSceneMartyrsSquare2 Martyrs Square

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Beirut1965Corniche Beirut Corniche 1965

WelcomeToLebanon Beirut Airport

Carlton The old Carlton Hotel

The Grand Aley Hotel: Built in 1926, For Sale Since 2008

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This is a cool piece by Dima Karam (The Guardian) on the Grand Aley Hotel that was built in 1926 by three brothers from a Beiruti trading family.

The British Army set up their command center in WWII and then the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) general who led the offensive against Syria and Lebanon used the hotel as his HQ. Following WWII, the hotel “became renowned for its evening entertainment – gambling, concerts and dancing” before it got occupied by mercenaries during the Lebanese Civil War.

The owners were unable to re-open the hotel after the war and the central bank ended up seizing the hotel and putting it up for auction back in 2008. Unfortunately, there are still no potential buyers willing to restore this hotel’s glory.

It’s quite shameful that such a beautiful hotel is abandoned and for sale.

Check out the full article [here].

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15 Awesome Pictures of Tripoli’s Abandoned Railway Station

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tripoli railway13

The Tripoli railway station is located in el-Mina area and is the second oldest train station in Lebanon after Riyak which began operating in 1891. Tripoli’s railway station used to connect to Homs in Syria and Beirut’s central station in Mar Mikhail and formed the terminus of the famous Orient Express line. The station was badly damaged during the civil war and has been closed ever since.

I passed by the old railway station a couple of weeks ago and it took me around 45 minutes to visit it all. It’s abandoned and neglected yet a beautiful site to explore and I wish someone would preserve it and turn it into a touristic attraction to showcase Lebanon’s railway heritage. You will find there several multi-purpose wagons and century old Locomotives. At this time, the site is open and easily accessible to all but be careful when walking around as the place has been abandoned for 30+ years.

We always hear of new plans to revive Lebanon’s railway but we all know it’s not happening anytime soon. Riyak’s railway station is next on my list.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Agent 505: Death Trap Beirut (1966)

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agent 505 Source

Agent 505: Death Trap Beirut, also known as La trappola scatta a Beirut (Italy) or Baroud à Beyrouth pour F.B.I. 505 (France) is a 1966 movie shot in Beirut and directed by Manfred R. Köhler. The stars are Frederick Stafford, who was known for his lead role in European spy movies, Chris Howland and Geneviève Cluny.

Here’s the plot:

A couple of beautiful girls are murdered while sunbathing at a luxury hote. The killer too is murdered, but able to reveal – before dying- that they were disposed of because the “knew too much”. Something bad is being planned in Beirut, and it has something to do with a man called The Sheikh, who has only four fingers. It seems this isn’t a lone incident. The Sheikh is also thought to be behind the assassination of several prominent scientists.

What’s interesting is that the movie was entirely shot in Lebanon. It’s not the best spy movie out there but it’s fun and contains a lot of action scenes. Moreover, there are some pretty cool shots from Lebanon’s Golden Age (The 1960s) and I even spotted the Lebanese Police and Army taking part in a couple of scenes.

You can watch it [here], the image and sound quality are perfect.

Here are some of the shots from the movie:

beirut The seaport facing Phoenicia Hotel if I’m not mistaken

jounieh Jesus Christ statue in Jounieh

high speed3 Motorcycle chase led by the Lebanese Police

amen dekhle

high speed1 High speed chase.

car sea Amphibious Vehicle in our seas

LAF The Lebanese Armed Forces.

old2 Old Beirut Airport

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Garbage Crisis in Beirut Back in The Old Days

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aub trash

This is an old interview with an AUB student (Engineer) talking about a garbage crisis at the time (Not sure about the year), and asking people to wrap their garbage properly and not throw them in the streets randomly.

Funnily enough, the journalist is asking him if burning the garbage can help them (she’s serious) and he answers that there’s no need to as long as the garbage is being collected every day and dumped in the sea!

You can’t really blame them as there wasn’t much awareness in the world at the time (assuming these were the 60s or 70s), but the shocking part is seeing people nowadays still burning garbage and dumping them in the sea. What’s even more shocking is having incompetent and ignorant ministers and officials still suggesting hazardous solutions to the garbage crisis instead of promoting recycling.

فيديو يظهر ازمة النفايات قديماً في #بيروت

Posted by Old Beirut lebanon on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Charles De Gaulle’s Beirut Residence is Not Getting Demolished

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degaulle1

The sign on Charles De Gaulle’s Beirut residence in Mar Elias disappeared few days ago and got reported on Save Beirut Heritage’s Facebook page. There were worries that the house might get demolished but the Ministry of Culture denied the rumors. However the stories that emerged were not really convincing, as one source said that the house owner removed the plate to clean it up and protect it and another version said the owner removed it out of fear that Georges Abdallah supporters might damage it.

What matters now is that the plate was put back and both the Minister of Culture & Beirut Governor re-assured everyone that the house will remain preserved and is not up for demolition.

French Commander Charles De Gaulle stayed in Beirut between 1929 and 1932 before he became Head of the Free French Forces.

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