“COLORS OF AN OLD BELLING SKY,” by Peter Doyle is a charming little book on the subject of the sportbooks in Beirut. The book is full of great memories and insights about the sportbooks of old and the people who have preserved them. The colorful folks of Beirut are a treasure trove of interesting stories and old photographs.
“COLORS OF AN OLD BELLING SKY,” like many of Doyle’s works, includes famous sports scenes and colorful paintings of the people and places of his travels, but this book mostly includes still shots of the places he visits and some of the objects he photographs along the way. The main subject matter of the book, however, is Beirut itself, with a great number of still and moving images. Many of these pictures come from the famous Garifuna quarter of Beirut, which has a long and colorful history as one of the oldest neighborhoods in the world. One section features shots of Karla Marksa Street, which is one of the most historic areas in all of Lebanon.
A section focuses on the Bazaar souq, a huge public market in downtown Beirut where you can buy just about anything under the sun. One of the most striking things about this souq is a huge outdoor bazaar area in the center of the souq. This bazaar is sometimes called the largest indoor market in the world, with a wide array of vendors selling everything from spices and clothing to fruits and fruit juices. It appears that this market was originally built as a means of bringing in more revenue for the republic, since the city was in such bad shape before the revolution that it needed to bring in outside money to help repair the damage done to the city by the war. The market remains a very popular place to shop today.
Finally, in the fourth section of UFA: Beirut, we take a look at the Russian Museum of Beirut. The Russian museum in Beirut sits on the ancient Trabouno Street just south of the famous Beirut Bridge. In fact, the museum was built on this very spot in 1855, so it is a site with some very old architecture to it. One of the things that particularly strikes you about this museum is the incredible amount of archive exhibits that fill its large halls. The museum is home to some stunning paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and other gorgeous relics from both the Russian and Persian empires.
One particular highlight of UFA is a short film that traces the history of the Russian soldiers who fought in World War II alongside Hezbollah fighters. The movie includes interviews with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, the son of the late president of Syria’s father, as well as some Hezbollah prisoners that were caught and executed by the Sayyidids. It also briefly traces the route of the Russian army through UFA as they pushed westward through Syria to take control of Mesopotamia. You can certainly see why so many people view this movie with a lot of awe and excitement. Not only does it feature some really moving footage of the ancient battlefields of Syria and Iraq, but it shows how integral the role of Hezbollah and Iran were in helping Russia to take over the country.
If you want to take in a few viewing events, you can do so right here right on the Russian President Hotel’s website. The entire second section of the website covers the events of the last week, including Nasrallah’s speech, the takeover of the Sayyid prayer center, and the crucifixion of Nasrallah’s father. Needless to say, the entire second half of the website is dedicated to the Nasrallah family, especially his wife and two daughters. This is a great website for any potential US travelers who are interested in learning more about Russia’s strong military presence in the Middle East, as well as Nasrallah’s views on foreign affairs.