Inside the abandoned hotel where 25,000 soldiers fought wars

A once-luxurious hotel in Beirut, Lebanon has now been left abandoned and in ruins after it became a battlefield only a year after it opened in 1974.

Known as the Holiday Inn, it was considered a lavish place to stay while on vacation in the country, according to Jam Press.

The spot, however, quickly turned into a battlefield with over 25,000 soldiers fighting several wars — forcing the hotel to shut its doors a year later.

Roman Robroek, a full-time photographer from the Netherlands, captured photos of the abandoned structure, which has been left in decay for the last 46 years.

“Everything came to a grinding halt due to the Lebanese civil war breaking out,” Robroek, 34, told Jam Press. “Overnight, Beirut turned from a fabled tourist attraction in the Middle East to a haven for fighters and combatants. For months, the area – which was home to various luxury hotels – became a war theatre with over 25,000 fighters.”

“This was known as the ‘Battle of the Hotels,” Roman added. “Thousands of people died or became seriously injured, with many being thrown from the roof of this hotel.”

In 1976, the war came to an end, but the hotel could never recover and scavengers took what was left.

“Kitchen equipment, wiring, copper, tools and anything that has value [was taken],” Robroek explained. “I can imagine that due to the economic challenges, some items might have been interesting to sell or use.”

Six years later, it was the hotspot for another battle—  the 1982 Lebanon War.

One photograph shows the pool, once filled with chlorine water, completely emptied. Other photos show the interior made up of rubble and dust, including a crumbled hole in a wall that looks out to the scenic Lebanon harbor.

“Because it was tall and towered over the city, the hotel became a favorite location for snipers,” Robroek said. “Opponents tried to destroy the building with heavy artillery and you can still see the damage from those deadly attacks today. I found bullet and blast holes on almost every floor.”

Robroek, who was intrigued by the building’s history, needed to obtain permission from the military, army, government and the owners of the building to gain access.

“It’s very rare to get access to a symbol of war,” he explained. “I went during the day, as the location is guarded by the army and I was dependent on them for how long I was allowed to enter.”

The structure is currently owned by two separate companies, and due to their disagreement about its future, the building remains in disarray.

Still considered a military zone, the area is under the strict control of the Lebanese Army, with strong surveillance, which restricts access to civilians.

“The idea of an abandoned hotel is always somewhat eerie, as it’s a reminder of the passing of time,” Robroek continued. “The hotel’s skeleton became a beating heart for the underground youth scene, as it hosted various events and raves throughout the 90s.”

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