Paris of the Middle East

Two towers in Beirut with damage from last week’s port explosion.

It’s been several decades since Beirut was commonly known as the Paris of the Middle East. The recent explosion, which devastated the port and wreaked serious damage on nearby central areas of the city, only adds to its problems – which seemed already to be reaching a crescendo – and sets back efforts to revive itself as a place where normal life can be led. The blame, or most of it, for both the explosion and the difficulty of Beirut’s revival may be laid at the doorstep of the terror organization Hezbollah and its puppeteers in Tehran. They stepped in to prevent peace from reigning after the end of the nation’s disastrous 1975-1989 civil war. That Lebanon’s society has not collapsed, yet, may be thanks to the resilience of the Lebanese, who have learned to weather history’s calamities. It may be that Beirut’s historical beauty contributes to their desire to live life.

This post is dedicated to that beauty and to what hope remains that Beirut’s status as the Paris of the Middle East can, in time, be resumed. The photo that introduces this post shows damage to towers of relatively recent vintage. Below are old shots of historic Beirut, then more recent such shots, especially in the chic Gemmeyze district, some of which show damage either recent or going back to the civil war.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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2 Responses to Paris of the Middle East

  1. Thomas Hayes says:


    It helps to have been a French colony.



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