The old French Mandate and Ottoman-era architecture of Beirut is one of my favorite things about the city. I love the balconies held up by strong yet intricate corbels, the triple-arched pointed windows, and the warm colors of the peeling paint. All too often in Beirut these beautiful buildings are in a sad state of disrepair. Often times I see these beautiful old houses and try to imagine what they were like in their glory days and what happened to the people who used to live in them. I find myself wishing they could be restored to what they once were knowing full well the reasons why they cannot.
Last week on a photo walk I came across such a house. From the street the house was almost unnoticeable, hidden away behind a wall of greenery.
But on closer inspection, I noticed that the bushes weren’t just growing around the structure, there was actually a tree coming from inside of it. I was intrigued to explore more of this house abandoned for so long that the trees grow from the inside.
The house seemed quite protected from the street by the wall and the greenery that I didn’t expect to get much more of a look at it. But then I turned the corner and saw that the side was completely open to the street, no gate or rusty padlock as I’ve seen on so many abandoned buildings in the city. I was able to walk right up to the house and see the crumbling insides for myself.
In some cases you could make out which room used to be which by the wall paper or tiles left on the walls.
I longed to follow those stairs up to the second floor, but the hanging bits of cement suggested it wasn’t the best of ideas.
So instead I just took in all the details . . .
And instead of wondering what this house was, or could be, just appreciated the beautiful decay for what it was in that moment on a sunny day in Beirut.