A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

tourist photos

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 27, 2008

I’ve just arrived back to the US for a few days, with the usual SSSS “special” security treatment coming through Heathrow. Between jet lag and family stuff, I have much to do – so I’ll be quick about finishing our tour of Beiteddine.

The interior part/western wing, where the emir’s family lived, was stunning. Here is the entrance – a small taste of what lies inside:

This is the view through the door above:

The view is stunning, but also puzzling. The courtyard is puzzingly asymmetric: the fountain is off-center relative to the staircase, while another fountain (cut into the stone floor) points toward the doorway just visible at the left side of the photo above.

Asymmetry in palaces is something I rarely see. I think of additions as things that are added on to main building and fitted into the original scheme. But Beiteddine, whose original structure was built in the late 1700s, was added on and added on and added on until the outer view suggests a massive palace complex and the interior view suggests a creative, if not terribly coordinated, jumble.

This weekend’s jaunt to the US has allowed me to pick up the copy of Touring Lebanon I bought in March. It is just as enlightening – and as entertaining – as I had hoped. Without it, I would never have known that the staircase that leads to the courtyard above was known as the “tumbling stairs”, which Ward says was “named from a celebrated mishap when a sheep escaping barbeque butted an eminent pasha”.

I bet that sheep didn’t escape the butcher’s knife for long – a tumbled pasha sounds like a man out for revenge.

Its 9 pm and I’m desperately jet lagging, so I’ll close with a quiet photograph of the sun warming the stone floor of the walk to the stables, where the mosaics are house. What mosaics? you might ask. More on that tomorrow, when I’m better rested!

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