It’s called adaptive reuse

Some years back, well before the calamity that has befallen the country, I stayed at the Zenobia hotel at Palmyra in Syria. It has the most extraordinary location, away from the modern town and right on the edge of the Roman ruins. It is possible to sit up in bed and look out of the window of your room at grand colonnades silhouetted against the moonlight. It seems natural that pieces of antiquity should find their way into the hotel, and so in the garden the ancient carved capitals of columns serve as bases for tables. I think I remember something similar in the garden of the Palmyra hotel at Baalbek in Lebanon.

Hotel de Nil

An image kindly sent to me by Susan Allen reminds me it used to be like that in Egypt too. It shows the garden of the Hotel du Nil and, in it, two great stone sarcophagus lids.

AH_Shepheards_on_the_terrace

Luxor_Hotel_postcard

The terrace at Shepheard’s used to boast a pair of sphinxes, reputedly from Saqqara, while the Luxor Hotel in Luxor had two statues of Sekhmet in its garden, most likely brought over from Karnak. Probably nobody at the time thought this an inappropriate employment of Egypt’s archaeological heritage. What was contentious, though, and stirred up comment in the press of the time, was architect Henri Favarger’s usage of stones from the Pyramids to build the Mena House hotel. He didn’t deny it, but in an address given to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1892, claimed it was rubble gathered from the foot of the Pyramids that was collected, and only then with the approval and close supervision of the Egyptian museum authorities.

2 Comments

Filed under Lost Egypt, Shepheard's

2 Responses to It’s called adaptive reuse

  1. Christina Harris

    Dear Andrew,
    I bought your book several months ago and could not put it down. (I gave you a very good review!) It is such a joy to know that there are people out there who feel the way I do about historical Egypt and the magnificent hotels. My book, The Garden Ran Down To the Nile, was a labour of love and kept me connected to a country that I loved and felt a part of. I lived there from 1978 to 1981. I have recently moved from England to the States.
    I have had up until now, only Samir Rafaat’s input, which is considerable, but love hearing a new slant. Please keep up your blog.
    Christina Harris

  2. gran8512

    Christina, thanks for the encouragement and pleased to hear you liked the book (and the blog). I’ve just ordered The Garden Ran Down to the Nile and look forward to reading it.
    Andrew

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