At the start of the civil war, the original owners left to ‘safer’ neighborhoods.
It was still posh until the 1930’s, and then it started going downhill. I guess people like me moved in, har har. My husband’s family lived in the Qasr Aker (Aker Place) for many years until the start of the civil war, in 1975, when the fighting began right in front of their door. They found a temporary residence in a safer neighborhood, but some 16 years later, they were still living there. Zokak el-Blatt found itself right on the Green Line between christian East en muslim west-Beirut. When the owners left, the refugees, fleeing their houses from other parts of the country/city, flew in, and that was the end of that.
This hovel wasn’t on the list, but I thought it was pretty impressive. The ‘owner’ didn’t want me to take a picture of the house, and we threatened each other with calling the police. 🙂
The Heneine Palace in the front (right) with the Ziade Palace in the back. Both were built in the 1860’s, and both were abandoned at the start of the civil war, never to be inhabited again. The former inhabitants have taken up residence in other more posh neighborhoods since then, and are trying to sell.
The neighborhood walk was organized by a group that also works with Souk el Tayeb. The initiative is a good one, although it’s a bit shocking to see mainly foreigners show up for the guided tours, and some Lebanese; the kind that rarely speak Arabic amongst themselves. I’d like them to tackle some other neighborhoods, like Monot , Gemayze and Sursock, where the architectural heritage is even more mindboggling. You can, by the way, walk in other neighborhoods as well, with a guide. This is organized by WalkBeirut, but I cannot vouch for the quality, never walked with them. It seems that on Saturdays, there’s a tour with a special emphasis on the city’s architectural history at 4:30. The whole tour includes 23 stops. To try it for yourself, contact Walk Beirut.
And I couldn’t resist this one; another pair of taule players.