Showing 1 - 20 from 25 entries
> Al Jib and the Wall
> Hebron: Rehabilitation and Reuse of Residential...
> Un-inventing the Bab al-Khalil tombs
> The Wall in Jerusalem: “Military Conquest by...
> Al-Manara Square: Monumental Architecture and Power
> The Israeli ‘Place’ in East Jerusalem
> Architecture of Dependency: Senan Abdelqader
> The Politics and Poetics of Place: The Baramki House
> Architecture in Ramallah
> Sammara Public Baths
> Memoirs Engraved in Stone: Palestinian architecture
> Villa Salameh
> The Jabber neighbourhood in the old city of Hebron
> Outside kitchen
> Wood used in building
> Doorways: Arched and straight
> Modern way of building houses
> Storeys for the next generation
> Sultan Suleiman and Jerusalem’s Old City Walls
> Protecting Historic Town and Village Centres
Villa Salameh, as the beautiful edifice at 21 Balfour Street in the Talbieh neighbourhood of West Jerusalem is called, is an architectural masterpiece that was built in the 1930s by French architect Marcel Favier. Favier had been sent to Jerusalem to build the French Consulate after its destruction in the earthquake of 1927. The similarities between the two beautiful buildings in the neo-classical style are quite evident.
The villa is owned by Constantine Salameh, a prominent Palestinian entrepreneur who died in Beirut in 1990 at the age of 103. Salameh had bought the plot of land from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which has extensive property in West Jerusalem. The entrance leads to a double-height central hall, which has a fountain in the middle. On one side is a wood-panelled dining room next to which is the salon. A service elevator connects the dining room to the basement, which contained a kitchen, wine cellar, laundry room, servants' quarters, storerooms and a garage. An internal elevator connects the ground floor with the two upper floors. Each of the bedrooms has its own bathroom, in Italian marble. The door handles, accoutrements and the decorations, including the lamps and the wood furniture, are all in art deco style and, along with every item in the villa, were all designed by the architect himself.
The Salamehs left Jerusalem in March 1948, after most of the area?s Palestinian residents had left, fearing for their lives. Salameh, however, made arrangements with the Belgian consul at the time to lease the building to the Belgian government, which occupies the villa up to this date.
Salameh's extensive property in Jerusalem, Jaffa and other parts of Palestine was impounded by the Israeli State. But the status of Salameh, who in the meantime had acquired Egyptian citizenship, changed from a Palestinian refugee to an Egyptian citizen with property in Israel. This, however, did not help Salameh in regaining his property. In the 1980s, the Belgian government was about to buy the villa from Salameh but it backed out when it realised that Salameh would have a difficult time proving that he was still the owner of the house. The Israeli government offered Salameh $700,000 for the villa in return for his renunciation of all claim to his assets in Israel and the territories worth millions of dollars. The Salamehs claim they did not enter into any transaction with the State of Israel, which maintains that it had paid the above sum to the Salamehs in December 1983. The case of the property's ownership remains unclear.
There are thousands of Palestinians who lost their property under the Israeli Absentees? Assets Law of 1951, although many of them still reside in Jerusalem and in other parts of Palestine.
Based on an article by Dalia Karpel that appeared in the Ha'aretz magazine of January 10, 2003.
This Week in Palestine