Baron Hotel

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Baron Hotel
Baron hotel Alp.jpg
The hotel's facade
Baron Hotel is located in Aleppo
Baron Hotel
Location within Aleppo
General information
Location Aleppo, Syria
Coordinates 36°12′18″N 37°9′00″E / 36.20500°N 37.15000°E / 36.20500; 37.15000Coordinates: 36°12′18″N 37°9′00″E / 36.20500°N 37.15000°E / 36.20500; 37.15000
Opening 1909–1911
Owner Mazloumian Brothers
Management Armen Mazloumian (director)
Technical details
Floor count 3
Other information
Number of rooms 17
Number of restaurants 1

Baron Hotel (also Baron's Hotel; French: Hôtel Baron or Le Baron), is the oldest hotel in Syria. It is located on Baron street in down-town Aleppo's Aziziyeh district. The Baron has sustained some civil war related damage but is still standing.

History[edit]

The idea of building a luxury hotel in Aleppo rose at the end of the 19th century. Sometime around 1870, a member of the Armenian family of Mazloumian (from eastern Anatolia) was on her way to Jerusalem for pilgrimage. While passing through Aleppo which was--even at that time--a cosmopolitan centre of commerce, she noticed how uncomfortable Europeans felt when staying in the traditional caravanserais. Eventually, she decided to build something modern in Aleppo and the result was the Ararat Hotel, the first hotel in the region, at the end of the 19th century. A few years later the Mazloumian Brothers enlarged their business by setting up the new Baron's Hotel. In 1909, amongst the gardens that were then on the outskirts of old Aleppo, they built the first floor of the current building; the second floor followed in 1911, and the third in 1940. During the French mandate, the street where Le Baron was built, was named after General Henri Gouraud. After the independence of Syria in 1946, the government decided to rename the street after "Baron" for the fame and the importance of the hotel.

The Hotel's fortune reflects the changes that have taken place in the country.[1] Baron's is one of several notable hotels in the Middle East that "seem to tell a story of how a region once viewed by foreigners as a playground has given way to a newer imagery of hard regimes and struggles to get by."[2][3]

Recent Developments[edit]

In November 2014 the hotel was forced to close its doors as the Syrian civil war further tightened its grip on the city. The front line separating government and rebel forces lay just metres away from the building.[4][5] For a time the hotel restarted operations despite the gravity of the war conditions.[6] It had reportedly also been kept open to shelter victims of jihadi terror who had come in from the countryside.[7][8] The Baron is still standing but has sustained some war related damage from snipers and five mortars.[9] The fate of the historical artefacts inside the building, including its giant 1917 Stephens thermometer with French script, is unknown.[10]

Notable guests[edit]

Until the Second World War, during the French Mandate most of the guests were British, French or German. British agents posing as archaeologists spied on German generals, who arranged opulent banquets for their Ottoman allies while German engineers built the rail line from Berlin to Baghdad.[11]

The second floor of the hotel has witnessed the presence of political leaders and numerous cultural icons: Lawrence of Arabia slept in room 202 (there is a copy of his unpaid bar bill displayed in the hotel); King Faisal declared Syria's independence from the balcony[12] in room 215; Agatha Christie wrote the first part of Murder on the Orient Express in room 203.[13] The Presidential Suite was occupied in turn by Charles de Gaulle,[14] King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria's former President Hafez Al Assad, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the founder of the United Arab Emirates), and the American billionaire David Rockefeller. Other notable guests include Dame Freya Stark, Julie Christie, Mr and Mrs Theodore Roosevelt, Kemal Ataturk,[15] Lady Louise Mountbatten, Charles Lindbergh and Yuri Gagarin.[16][17]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burns, Ross (2016-08-25). Aleppo: A History. Taylor & Francis. p. 282. 
  2. ^ Times, Alan Cowell, Special To The New York (1990-02-24). "Aleppo Journal; A Small Hotel, Its Memories Fading". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  3. ^ "Aleppo’s imperial Baron imperiled by bombs". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  4. ^ "The Forgotten of Aleppo’s Hotel Baron - Hetq - News, Articles, Investigations". Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  5. ^ "War in Syria takes toll on Aleppo's oldest hotel, in pictures". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  6. ^ Italian newspaper La Repubblica 5th March 2016: "Silenzio e cecchini nell'Hotel Baron di Aleppo assediata (in Italian)". 
  7. ^ "Aleppo Notebook: the city’s terrorist besiegers will now be besieged | The Spectator". The Spectator. 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  8. ^ "Once hosting Lawrence of Arabia & Agatha Christie, Aleppo’s iconic hotel now shelters refugees". RT International. Retrieved 2017-05-22. 
  9. ^ "Searching the Ruins of Aleppo for My Friends at the Baron Hotel". Town & Country. 2016-12-19. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Trade and commerce gradually return to western Aleppo". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  11. ^ Tribes With Flags: A Dangerous Passage Through the Chaos of the Middle East (hardcover and paperback), Atlantic Monthly Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87113-457-8 (Published in the United Kingdom by Secker and Warburg, as well as Picador.) There is a section on the hotel as it was in 1987.
  12. ^ https://www.rt.com/news/335475-syria-aleppo-iconic-hotel-refugees/
  13. ^ Times, Alan Cowell, Special To The New York (1990-02-24). "Aleppo Journal; A Small Hotel, Its Memories Fading". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  14. ^ "Charles de Gaule and Agatha Christie's old haunt closes in Syria". Mail Online. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  15. ^ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/09/world/rockefellers-memory-endures-aleppo-hotel-fighting-intensifies/
  16. ^ "The Hotel Baron in Aleppo". Qantara: Dialogue with Islamic world. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  17. ^ "Return to Aleppo: A squandered legacy". Al-Monitor. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 

External links[edit]