Beautiful Beiteddine

Abu Nasser pulled the taxi into the empty car park and made a theatrical swerve across the concrete. “Busy, isn’t it.” He joked. There were only two other tourists strolling around Beiteddine Palace when I visited. In any other country a tourist site like this would be swarming with camera-clickers. But Beiteddine is in Lebanon. And with no end in sight to the conflict across the border in Syria,  the glorious caramel and honey tinged stone and marble architecture of this peacock pile in the Chouf Mountains sits empty of admirers.

Beiteddine was built by the Ottoman governor Emir Bashir Shihab II in the 19th century. Today it positively drips with the memory of opulence that defined the interiors and architecture of that era. Walking around pompous rooms of grand mansions and palaces always make me feel uneasy. With the building devoid of tour groups this feeling was magnified. My shoes squeaked on the polished floors. A guard lounged in a doorway frame watching me set up a photo. My shoes scuffed again with a loud nails-on-chalkboard trill. I frowned in embarrassment and silently apologised to the house. The guard walked towards me and I wondered if I was about to be told off for having squeaky sneakers. But no. He just wanted to make me climb over the ropes into the ‘do-not-access’ side of the room so he could take a photo of me reclining on the sofa.

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6 thoughts on “Beautiful Beiteddine

  1. Wow! When I first saw the featured photos, I thought it was the Alhambra in Spain – my favorite place on the planet. It must have been incredible to be alone there!
    I enjoyed seeing this, thanks for posting it!

  2. I feel such an affinity for the Middle East. Only been there once (a month 1984, in the Holy Land & Jordan visiting a friend’s family). I’ve travelled a bit elsewhere, but nothing felt like that place did.
    Love to hear your stories & see the gorgeous photos. Thank you.

    • Always glad to meet another Middle East-appreciator. You’re right, it really does have a completely separate atmosphere (ancient and wise and world-weary yet still vibrant) to many other corners of the world.

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