A 2,800-year-old Phoenician castle in Batroun, Lebanon is being restored and will serve quite a different purpose.
The castle was built in the 9th century B.C. and was destroyed in the year 551 AD when a huge earthquake hit the area. The disaster left the castle practically submerged in the aftermath.
Eventually, its beauty and value were appreciated once more by the Roman and Ottoman empires, both of which used the castle during their eras in Lebanon.
More recently, many old and traditional Lebanese houses were built on the castle. Then during the Lebanese civil war, many houses were built illegally around it.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gibran Bassil, issued a decree in the cabinet to have the castle leased to the municipality for a very small amount for 20 years. That way, they can invest in it and restore it to its former glory.
It is being rebuilt with a careful consideration to preserve the architecture and general spirit of the castle.
Most of the restoration is taking place on the houses that were built on top of the castle later on since the real Phoenician castle is buried under the ground, most likely well-preserved since it has not been exposed to the elements for quite some time.
So what's the plan for the Phoenician castle?
Gibran Bassil suggested the restored castle turn into the "Diaspora House."
The capacity of the castle is 10 houses which surround a main square in the middle. Each house will be given to a certain community of Lebanese people who immigrated abroad.
Along with houses for expats, there's also a conservatory, a museum, a coffee house, and a motel. So far, from what we know, the 10 houses will be the:
- Lebanese-Russian House
- Lebanese-Emirati House
- Lebanese-American House
- Lebanese-Mexican House
- Lebanese-Brazilian House
- Lebanese-Canadian House
- Lebanese-Australian House
Not sure what the 3 others will be but I assume a Lebanese-French one will be one of them and possibly one for Lebanese-German and/or a couple more Latin American nationalities.
These will basically work as embassies to connect the cultures together that so many Lebanese have become a part of. There's a multitude of plans and ideas for languages classes and restaurants with different cuisines, for example.
This initiative is absolutely fantastic for those "lost" Lebanese born abroad with a growing interest in their homeland.
A project like this could be an incredibly constructive gateway to reconnect them to our country.
Thank you to the Lebanese government and Minister Gebran Bassil for working on this!
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