Founded by an Armenian family in 1911, the famous Baron Hotel in Aleppo, Syria was once the destination, according to Reuters, of “adventurers, writers, kings, aviators, Bedouin chiefs and presidents” until it was forced to close five years ago due to the ongoing civil war.
Located near the front lines of the war in Western Aleppo, the historic hotel has sadly been greatly damaged by mortar bombs including, according to Reuters, “one that sprayed shrapnel across an upper floor and another that crashed through the window of its ‘Oriental Room’ onto delicate floor tiles but failed to explode. The tail fin from that round now sits in the Baron’s cabinet of curiosities alongside such relics as pottery given by visiting archaeologists and T.E. Lawrence’s hotel bill.” Thankfully, the upstairs room is still preserved featuring the desk where Agatha Christie wrote part of “Murder on the Orient Express.”
The hotel owner’s widow, Roubina Tashjian, says she sees the Baron as part of a Syria that values openness to the outside world and respect for the country’s great antiquities. “A Syrian is a mixture of all these ethnic groups and cultures … this is a big pot and it’s all mixed up. But we cook the same kibbeh,” she said, referring to a Levantine dish.