Inside the abandoned hotel where 25,000 soldiers fought wars

Real Estate

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.”

A crumbled hole in a wall that looks out onto the picturesque Lebanon harbour.
A crumbled hole in a wall that looks out onto the picturesque Lebanon harbor.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
The area is still considered a military zone and is under the strict control of the Lebanese Army, which restricts access to civilians.
The area is still considered a military zone and is under the strict control of the Lebanese Army, which restricts access to civilians.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
Bullets and blast holes can be observed on every floor of the abandoned hotel.
Bullets and blast holes can be observed on every floor of the abandoned hotel.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
The hotel had to shut its doors a year later after its opening, as the hotel’s grounds became a battlefield.
The hotel had to shut its doors a year later after its opening, as the hotel’s grounds became a battlefield.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
The hotel - known as the Holiday Inn - opened in 1974 and used to be a lavish place for those to stay while on holiday in the Middle East.
The hotel, known as the Holiday Inn, opened in 1974 and used to be a lavish place for those to stay while on vacation in the Middle East.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek

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.

In one image, the pool area which was once filled with holiday-goers, is now eerily empty and the area’s grounds are scuffed and ridden with rust.
In one image, the pool area is now eerily empty and the area’s grounds are scuffed and ridden with rust.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
Today, the building is owned by two separate companies and one of the main reasons why it still sits in disarray is due to a disagreement about its future.
Today, the building is owned by two separate companies and one of the main reasons why it still sits in disarray is due to a disagreement about its future.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
“Overnight, Beirut turned from a fabled tourist attraction in the Middle East, to a haven for fighters and combatants," photographer Roman Robroek says.
“Overnight, Beirut turned from a fabled tourist attraction in the Middle East to a haven for fighters and combatants,” photographer Roman Robroek says.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
“The hotel was never really a symbol of luxury, but rather a symbol of war and stands tall as a reminder of one of the darkest eras in Lebanon’s history," Photographer Roman Robroek says.
“The hotel was never really a symbol of luxury, but rather a symbol of war and stands tall as a reminder of one of the darkest eras in Lebanon’s history.”
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
“Thousands of people died or became seriously injured, with many being thrown from the roof of this hotel," photographer Roman Robroek explained.
“Thousands of people died or became seriously injured, with many being thrown from the roof of this hotel,” photographer Roman Robroek explained.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek

“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.”

Roman Robroek, 34, a full-time photographer from the Netherlands, came across the eerie building with a shocking past while travelling in Beirut, Lebanon.
Roman Robroek, 34, a full-time photographer from the Netherlands, came across the eerie building with a shocking past while traveling in Beirut, Lebanon.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
The decayed parking garage.
The decayed parking garage.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
Roman Robroek explored the building with a representative from Silat for culture - a local non-profit organization - and two photographers.
Roman Robroek explored the building with a representative from Silat for culture — a local non-profit organization — and two photographers.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek
Roman wanted to explore the building after hearing about the history, but had to jump through a few hoops to be allowed in.
Photographer Roman Robroek wanted to explore the building after hearing about the history but had to jump through a few hoops to be allowed in.
Jam Press/Roman Robroek

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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