Category Archives: Old Lebanon

In Pictures: Phoenicia Hotel In Beirut From 1961 Till 2015

Posted By :

Under construction 1961 phoenicia The oldest picture of Phoenicia I was able to find. It was taken before the grand opening in 1961

Phoenicia Beirut was celebrating its 50th anniversary around the same time four years ago. This majestic landmark at the heart of Beirut was inaugurated back in 1961 by the Lebanese businessman Najib Salha and was one of the best (if not the best) hotels in the whole area. The hotel was a victim of the Lebanese civil war and had to close down for almost 25 years before it reopened back in 2000. Throughout this post, I traced back Phoenicia’s history in pictures from the glorious 1960s, the dark era between 1975 and 1990 followed by the reopening in 2000, Hariri’s bombing in 2005 and the revamp completed in 2011. I finally added a picture from 2013 and a recent photo I took 2 weeks ago.

Throughout the years, Phoenicia has appeared in numerous movies including the 1965 Mickey Rooney film Twenty-Four Hours to Kill in 1965, Agent 505- Todesfalle Beirut in 1966, Circle of Deveit in 1981, Je Veux Voir / Badeh Shouf with Catherine Deneuve in 2008. The famous Rock band Scorpions shot their song “When you came into my life” in Phoenicia as well.

opening 1961s Picture taken at the grand opening – via Phoenicia website

inaugurated 1964 Another picture from 1964 – via Levantium

1950s Addition of the Roman Tower in 1967

1960s Aerial view of Beirut showing Phoenicia Hotel and the Roman Tower- Taken in the 1960s

1960sview Pictures from the 1960s showing the pool, Mosaic restaurant and a rendering of the hotel – Source

1974 Aerial view of Phoenicia in 1974 – via OldBeirut

aerial22 Another aerial view taken in the 1970s

Mosaic insidie 1970s Mosaic in the 1970s – Quite amazing how it still looks the same

The hotel unfortunately turned into a battlefield during the civil war and had to close down for almost 25 years. The below 3 pictures are the only ones I was able to find that show the damages inside the iconic Phoenicia hotel. Via hoteliermiddleeast

1997 pool

Damage

Hotel in 1975 1976

Phoenicia Hotel finally reopened in March 2000 with the addition of a third tower. 2000 was also the year I graduated from school and we were the first school to hold a prom night at Phoenicia, a night I’ll never forget!

2004

In 2005, Phoenicia was damaged in the 2005 bombing assassination of Rafik Hariri and had to close down for 3 months. One of my friends who happened to be there that the bombing shattered all the hotel’s windows.

damage11

Phoenicia celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 after a $50 million revamp was completed.

50 years

Here are the most recent pictures of Phoenicia taken in 2013 and 2015.

phoenicia

20150315_145050

The First Lebanese Car

Posted By :

firstlebcar via RaniaelKhatib

I don’t know how accurate this poster is but Lissan Al Hal (in Arabic لسان الحال) was a daily Lebanese newspaper that was established by Khalil Sarkis in the 1870s and is considered as one of the oldest Lebanese publications. This 1960 article is entitled “The First Lebanese Car” and talks about a small vehicle (very similar to a Jeep) that was built using American parts by Younes Motors in Lebanon. It would be interesting to know if this same Younes Motors is linked to the current Rasamny-Younes group and whether they produced or sold any of these cars. I went through Lissan Al Hal’s horrible website but didn’t find anything except recent boring news. According to what I found online, the publication was acquired by the Lebanese National Congress that resumed its publication as a weekly newspaper.

As far as Lebanese cars are concerned, the W Motors Lykan Hypersport is considered as the first Lebanese car ever produced and is currently priced at 3,400,000 US dollars.

After his election and starting 1942, editing of Lisan al Hal was continued by his son Khalil Ramez Sarkis who was also a literary figure and had a series of literary works published. After Khalil Ramez Sarkis, editing and publishing was taken over by Gebran Hayek.[6][7] Bishop George Khodr wrote for the daily in his column called Hadith al Ahad (The Sunday Talk) from 11 March 1962 to 25 January 1970.[8] The newspaper stopped publication during the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s. [Wiki]

Update: A friend just told me about another Lebanese car made by a guy from Tripoli. The car is called “Spider” and it took 3 years to build and cost $300,000. Mustapha used the body of an Infiniti G35 body and engine and boosted the engine to become a 700HP one. Even though what he did was pretty cool, I didn’t like the car much. Here are some pictures:

Bt36v7cIEAA_-yt

car3

car21 Pictures via ElIktisad

An Old Martyrs Square Monument That Was Removed In 1950s

Posted By :

Place-des-Martyrs-1942

Update (19 March 2015):: Here’s a small french text I found about the monument
“Le groupe en bronze sculpté par un italien du nom de Mazzucati a pris la place du monument en pierre de Youssef Hoyeck représentant deux femmes, l’une chrétienne, l’autre musulmane. Considérées comme pas assez «glorieuses», les pleureuses Hoyeck n’on connu qu’heurs et malheurs: Attaquées par un fou en 1948, déboulonnées en 1960, elles furent retrouvées enduites de goudron dans un dépôt avant d’être finalement restaurées et exposées dans le jardin du musée Sursock ou elles sont désormais bichonnées par la passionnée conservatrice Sylvia Agémian. La mobilité des monuments et leur déboulonnage institutionnalisé ont fait des émules chez les voisins: Au printemps 2005, portraits équestres, en pied ou en buste à l’effigie de chefs d’états, fils de chefs d’états et fils de chefs d’états devenus chefs d’états qui enjolivaient le pays furent démantelés et évacués par leurs propriétaires, mêmes. “

It basically says that “Les Pleureuses” which were built by Joseph Hoayek were damaged by a crazy man in 1948 and then were removed and displayed at Musee Surosck where they still are. One of the readers promised to send me a picture. I will post it once available.

Update2 (20 March 2015): I got two close-up pictures of the monument from one of the blog’s readers. Thanks a million Maissa!
FullSizeRender (2)

FullSizeRender (3)

I was going through old pictures of Martyrs Square and I found this very old picture of a monument of a Christian and a Muslim Lebanese women holding hands that was apparently removed in the 1950s right before the construction of the Martyrs Monument. I’ve never heard of that monument before and I couldn’t find out why they decided to remove it and replace it with the Italian sculptor Renato Marino Mazzacurati statue that we all are familiar with.

I tried looking at old pictures of Martyrs Square (Before 1950) to try and locate where the monument was but couldn’t really figure it out. However if you notice the monument was right below the Philips sign which is showing in newer pictures (1950s and up). I know it’s not a big deal but it would be nice to know the story behind that statue, how it came be and where it is now. Here are a couple of pictures of how Martyrs Square looked in the 1930s and a newer one from the 1950s.

PS: If anyone has further information on that statue, please do share.

1930 Martyrs Square in the 1930s

1935 Martyrs Square in the 1930s

1950_3 Martyrs Square in the 1950s: Notice the Philips sign

Here’s an old video of Martyrs Square in 1897:

[YouTube]

Rare Footage From 1941 Of Lebanon’s Ski School In The Cedars

Posted By :

british Old Picture of British Troops in the Cedars Back In the 1940s – via Old Beirut

Check out this pretty cool footage from 1941 that was shot by the Australian Imperial Forces in the Cedars. There was a storm probably similar to the one we’re having this week and Becharre residents helped dig out the snow to clear the road for the trucks as the supplies were running low.

[YouTube]

Originally shared by Nadine Mazloum – LBCI

How Russia Responded To The Kidnapping of Four Soviet Diplomats In Beirut In 1985

Posted By :

russia

A friend was showing me a post on 9gag about kidnapped Soviets in Beirut and how Russia’s counter-terrorism Alpha Group handled the situation. I’ve read a lot about kidnappings, specially from the PLO, in the 1980s but I’ve never heard this part of the story.

Here’s what happened:
Four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped in September 1985 by a fundamentalist group called the Islamic Liberation Organization. Russia quickly dispatched its Alpha group, tasked with counter-terrorism hostage-rescue operations, to Beirut. Once the team learned that Arkady Katkov, a consular attaché and one of the four hostages, was killed, they responded quickly by tracking down and locating one of the kidnappers’ leaders (or relative it’s not clear). In order to send a clear message to the terrorists, Alpha group members castrated the hostage, cut him down into pieces and sent him to the hostage takers. They also threatened to kill more of the kidnappers’ relatives if the Soviet diplomats were not free.

As a result, the 3 hostages were released and dropped off near the Soviet Embassy and no Russian officials were ever taken captive since then. Some say that the release of the Soviet hostages was the result of extensive diplomatic negotiations with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.

It’s not surprising to see the Russians react that way to hostage situations specially after what they’ve done during the Moscow theater and the Beslan school hostage crisis.

Speaking of hostages, would you support approaches similar to the Russian one to free our kidnapped soldiers?

Fairouz Old House In Beirut To Become A Museum

Posted By :

Fairouz House

The old Beiruti house Fairouz grew up in won’t be demolished and turned into a skyscraper. Instead the municipality of Beirut will take over the house and turn it into a museum to honor Fairouz’s career and achievements. I am glad that the house won’t be demolished like Amine Maalouf’s residence and this is the least the municipality can do to one of the most widely admired and respected singers in the Arab world.

The house is located in Zkak el Blat in Beirut. Here’s a [link] to the original article.

Alexander The Great’s Siege of The Unconquerable Lebanese City Of Tyre

Posted By :

Tyr2

I was reading an article about the 5 ancient acts of war that changed the face of the earth and the Great Alexander’s siege of Tyre was mentioned among them, so I decided to dig deeper into it and it’s a mind blowing story to say the least! In fact, I am surprised they haven’t done a movie about that siege alone.

So how did Alexander turn an Island Into a Peninsula?

Tyre was one of the largest and most important Phoenician city states and was a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean. The city had a nearby island with walls extending directly into the water, which meant that it’s impossible to attack the fortification by land and you couldn’t attack the city with a navy (which Alexander didn’t have anyway). As a result, Alexander decided to do the unthinkable and started building a long land bridge to link Tyre back to land, and he did so while his army was attacked with arrows and bombarded by Tyre’s navy.

causeway

Once the water became much deeper, Alexander constructed two towers 50 meter long each and moved them to the end of the causeway. This wasn’t enough yet as the Tyre defense and navy were still able to counter all the attacks. Once Alexander was convinced he couldn’t conquer the city without a navy, over 200 galleys sent by the King of Cyprus and Greece came to his rescue. The Tyre navy was able to hold the attacks for a while but Alexander was finally able to make a small breach in the south end of the Island, and then launched a final attack and conquered the island.

Tyr 1934 Tyre view from an airplane, 1934

The article shows a picture of Tyre before Alexander’s attack and how it looks like now. As you can see, it’s no longer an island anymore. If you are interested in reading the whole story, check it out [Here]. There’s also this french article that I found and this short [video].

map