Time Machine Then & Now Explore Aley's Architectural Heritage

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Designed by architect Toufic Dleikan in 1932, Casino Piscine Aley was the summertime destination of the rich and famous. It hosted international artists including Om Khalthoum, Farid el Atrache and his sister Asmahan, and the legendary Sabah – before tragedy struck in 1953.

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In its previous life, HighTower Castle in Baissour was known as Bourj el Alia – the home of the accomplished engineer and environmental activist of international repute, Hussein Kaidbey. Today, the castle has been beautifully restored and remodelled.

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Built in 1926 by three brothers from a wealthy Beiruti trading family, Grand Hotel Gebeily was designed by the famous Italian architect Bindo Manham. A witness to a century of both tranquility and turmoil, the hotel is now neglected, but nevertheless an architectural masterpiece.

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Hotel Subh and Cinema Subh are a poignant reminder of Aley’s glorious past. Located in the main street of the Souk, this iconic heritage building is one of the few  architectural treasures to have survived the ravages of war and property developers.

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In the 1950s, Aley’s Tanios Hotel was a landmark, hosting tourists and celebrities from within Lebanon and around the globe. Today, a monolithic, empty complex of the same name stands in its place.

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Located in the heart of the souk in Aley, Hotel Windsor was built by J. and W. Takla, and officially opened in 1924. Today, it lies sadly dormant, an ever-present reminder of a once-golden and glorious era.

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Villa Asmahan was built in the 1940s, by Armenian businessman Abro Abroyan.

Named in honour of the famous chanteuse, who frequently sang on the stages in Aley, the residence was designed by the Armenian architect Mardouros Altounian.

 

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The once-majestic villa of Saudi business magnate Ibrahim Shaker was constructed in the 1950s, upon the most strategic hilltop in Aley. Such was its beauty, inside and out, the mansion appeared in many movies. Today, it is unrecognizable, but glimpes of its former glory remain.

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