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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:15 AM   #1
WasabiHoney
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Zahle: a town stuck in time

Having noticed that very few photos from Zahle were available on the net, apart from general views and a few particular locations, I decided to open this thread about my hometown. I went around Zahle over the course of several months, taking pictures of interesting buildings, fountains and anything that would give the viewer a clear idea of its picturesque cityscape. All photos are taken from my panoramio account. And now, sit back and relax, as I present you:

Zahle: a town stuck in time

Nicknamed "The Bride of the Beqaa" and "The Neighbor of the Ravine" due to its geographical location and attractiveness, Zahle is built on a series of foothills of Mount Sannine forming a narrow valley, extending all the way to the Beqaa plateau, at a mean elevation of 1000m:




Zahle: stretching from the mountain to the valley



Zahle: stretching from the mountain to the valley



Panorama of Zahle



Zahle - Panorama of the eastern slope from the Zalzale neighborhood



Dusk over the "Bride of the Beqaa valley"
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:17 AM   #2
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The town is bisected by the Berdawni River, which flows out of the ravine towards the Beqaa plateau, separating the two traffic directions of the central boulevard. The Berdawni was at a time Zahle's sole source of drinking water and its most prized natural emblem:




On a calm early Sunday morning



On a calm early Sunday morning



The Berdawni river on a rainy day



The Berdawni river at its lowest level in years
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:18 AM   #4
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Due to the particular topography of Zahle, most of its neighborhoods spread vertically on steep hill slopes. Its cityscape consists of a motley mix of stone buildings, concrete houses, grandiose mansions, and low-rises clad or not in stone:




On a warm summer afternoon



On a warm summer afternoon



The cityscape of Zahle



The cityscape of Zahle



The cityscape of Zahle
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:19 AM   #5
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The traditional stone buildings of Zahle are of particular interest. They feature a range of common architectural elements: pyramidal red tile roofs, thick stone walls with arched openings, windows flanked by wooden shutters and often topped by triangular pediments, wrought iron balconies, and an ornate cornice running below the roof. Several examples of these buildings survive around the town:




A traditional house on Mar Elias street



Stone architecture



Tear off that damn banner!



A traditional stone building



Mansions of Zahle

Last edited by WasabiHoney; July 31st, 2015 at 07:39 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:23 AM   #6
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Agressive restoration



A beautiful traditional stone building



A traditional stone building and its vine



Magenta



A uniquely beautiful mansion
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:24 AM   #7
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One neighborhood in particular with many interesting old buildings is Lesser Rassieh:




A glance at Rassieh neighborhood



A glance at Rassieh neighborhood



A beautiful stone building



A glance at Rassieh neighborhood

where this impressive building, intended by its builder as a copy of a Parisian one, is also located:



A feel of grandeur



A feel of grandeur
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:24 AM   #8
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Another example of the traditional stone architecture, also in the Rassieh neighborhood, is the massive Oriental College, the oldest school in Zahle, founded in late 19th century by Basilian monks:




The Oriental College



The Oriental College of Zahle



The Oriental College and part of Rassieh neighborhood



The Oriental College

Last edited by WasabiHoney; August 27th, 2014 at 12:13 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:25 AM   #9
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And let's not forget the grandiose Cristal Grand Hotel Kadri. Originally an Ottoman military hospital, it was later converted into one of the most prestigious hotels in Lebanon. During the civil war, it was occupied by the Syrian army and sustained enormous damage, then was restored in the late 1990s and recovered some of its former glory:



The impressive Cristal Grand Hotel Kadri



The impressive Cristal Grand Hotel Kadri



The artificial pond below Cristal Grand Hotel Kadri



Grand Hotel Kadri glowing in the night
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Old August 27th, 2014, 10:49 AM   #10
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Beyond the relatively large streets, the town's older sections feature a different cityscape, with buildings densely packed along a labyrinth of narrow alleys and backstreets, occasional patches of greenery, and the omnipresent mess of electric cables:




The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle
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Old August 27th, 2014, 11:01 AM   #11
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The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle
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Old August 27th, 2014, 11:08 AM   #12
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Rusty roofs



Childhood memories



The picturesque backstreets of Zahle



Kitsch or cute?
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Old August 27th, 2014, 11:17 AM   #13
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In these sections of the town, one occasionally stumbles across traditional stone mansions. These typically feature a terrace and/or courtyard centered by a fountain and shaded by a vine, like the impressive Geha mansion seen below:




The external wall of a beautiful stone mansion



A beautiful traditional stone mansion



The courtyard of a traditional stone mansion

Last edited by WasabiHoney; August 27th, 2014 at 06:10 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 11:27 AM   #14
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Since most of Zahle is built on steep slopes, stairs connecting the different neighborhoods are found everywhere:




Stairs and gutters



Stairs in the old town



Typical stairs of Zahle



Stairs leading to St Joseph Sakhra church



Typical stairs of Zahle



Set in stone

Last edited by WasabiHoney; July 31st, 2015 at 09:40 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 12:00 PM   #15
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Another interesting feature of Zahle's streetscape is the presence of numerous stone or marble fountains. At a time the town had an abundance of running waters, which allowed these fountains to exist. However this has changed in the recent years, as can be seen through abandoned watermills like the one below:




An abandoned water mill

As a result, many of these fountains have been decommissioned, and lie today in a state of disrepair:



A decommissioned fountain



A decommissioned fountain



A decommissioned fountain



A decommissioned fountain
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Old August 27th, 2014, 12:10 PM   #16
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A beautiful decommissioned fountain

Some have been taken over by vegetation:



A beautiful decommissioned fountain

while others have sadly become dumping sites:



A decommissioned fountain



A decommissioned fountain
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Old August 27th, 2014, 12:25 PM   #17
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Fortunately, many still survive, although most of them have been equipped with closeable taps, instead of letting the water run freely as it was the case until a couple of decades ago:




A fountain



A fountain



A fountain



A fountain



A fountain



The "spitting lion" fountain
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Old August 27th, 2014, 12:40 PM   #18
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Some fountains bear an inscription with the name of a deceased person, according to a local tradition:




A fountain



A fountain



A fountain



A fountain on the Central Boulevard



A beautiful marble fountain

while others have been topped with small shrines, reflecting Zahle's intensely Christian character:



A fountain topped by a small shrine



A fountain topped by a small shrine

Last edited by WasabiHoney; July 31st, 2015 at 09:42 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2014, 07:34 PM   #19
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Great photos and presentation as always! All the best here!

Cheers!
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Old August 27th, 2014, 08:04 PM   #20
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Indeed great, very nice photos
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Urban Showcase: Athens Kalamata Trikala Thessaloniki
Cityscapes: Paris Barcelona Dubai, U.A.E. Monte Carlo, Monaco
General photography: Castles of France - Chateau de France and, since May of '08: Greece!

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