Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Baron Hotel

Located on Baron Street (Area 5C), close to the post office and the National Museum. Up until the 70's, The Baron Street itself was considered Aleppo’s champs-elysee, but it has been in constant decay ever since.

Back in 1909, when the Orient Express Railway was being pushed through from Constantinople to Baghdad, Aleppo--then an outpost of the Ottoman Turkish Empire--became a railhead. Two farsighted Armenian brothers from the Mazloumian family, realizing that the city would become an important stopover for travelers en route to both Damascus and Baghdad, took the opportunity to establish a European-style hotel on the outskirts of town in ‘gardens considered unsafe to venture to after dark’. The hotel, called The Baron, was the first luxury class hotel in the Middle East, boasting central heating (Aleppo can be really cold in winter), sweeping stairways, elaborate chandeliers and "modern plumbing" in European bathrooms.

As a consequence, The Baron became the place to stay, and its guest book (now carefully kept in a locked safe, but available for perusal on request) lists the names of its famous visitors (see list below).
The Baron's best-known guest remains T.E. Lawrence "of Arabia", who noted in his monumental Seven Pillars of Wisdom that the distinguished hotel was becoming "almost a second home". In fact the hotel has good reason to remember Lawrence, who, on one occasion, left in such a hurry that he neglected to pay his bill. The bill in question remains on display in a glass cabinet in the Baron's drawing room--no doubt the management, now in the hands of the founders' grandsons; reckon that Lawrence's outstanding account has been paid many times over in terms of publicity value!

Today The Baron is but a pale shadow of its former self, the curtains and carpets faded, the once state-of-the-art plumbing now overly grandiose, clanking and antiquated, yet the establishment retains more color and atmosphere than anywhere else in town.

Guests List:
- T.E. Lawrence "of Arabia": stayed here regularly 1911-1914 when working as an archaeologist in nearby Carchemish.
- US President Theodore Roosevelt
- Aviator Charles Lindbergh
- Kemal Attaturk (founder of Turkey)
- Lady Louis Mountbatten
- Author Agatha Christie and her archaeologist husband Sir Max Mallowan: she wrote the first part of Murder on the Orient Express here.
- Julie Christie
- The boxer Gene Tunney
- Zsa Zsa Gabor
- The Ceaucescus
- King Gustav & Queen Louise of Sweden
- King Faysal I of Iraq
- Queen Ingrid of Denmark
- General Montgomery
- Yuri Gagarin
- Charles de Gaulle (he had a hair cut at the barber shop in front of the Hotel)
- John Rockfeller
- Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan
- Marechal Tito
- Gamal Abdel Nasser
- Charles Aznavour


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, nice pic rami, thanks.
no need to comment,I guess.the pic says it all!

June 09, 2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger Stellar said...

I would've said the same thing about the pic but unfortunatly, I can't see it. Why? Because the intenet provider here block the most stupid things.

Yallah, at least I got to know about this hotel. :D The information is seriously interesting.. Keep up the good posts.

BTW, are you going to invite me to that place when I visit Allepo?? Hehehehe.. Just kidding.

June 09, 2005 7:55 AM  
Blogger shop girl said...

Interesting Information, gr8 pics :)

June 09, 2005 10:05 AM  
Blogger aleppian said...

It took my attention the guests' list!!! very interesting!

June 09, 2005 2:56 PM  
Blogger aleppian said...

note for the first pic: the building's dark side is too dark :), maybe it would be better you had taken the shot after half an hour while the light is spreading on that side also.

June 09, 2005 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Fadi-Amman said...

Very interesting indeed!
Rami If I was in charge if would made u the governor of Aleppo! :-D
seriously the information u r giving about Aleppo is better than what is done by any tourism ministry!

June 09, 2005 3:23 PM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

Outstanding that is all

June 09, 2005 3:58 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Rami this is the best researched post I've read in a while now...really great post :)

June 10, 2005 12:24 PM  
Blogger Olivia said...

Oh those glory days when it was glamorous for westerners to visit the East...Where have they gone? We still visit, but it doesn't seem so romantic anymore.

June 10, 2005 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other important guests ,Ataturk ,John Rockfeller,Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan and Charles Lindbergh.

June 10, 2005 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and Lawrence of Arabia...

June 10, 2005 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice pic rami
the famelie name of the owners
is mazloumian(armenian name).


June 10, 2005 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can see in this hotel the bill wish it paied by lowrance of arabia.


June 10, 2005 4:37 PM  
Blogger Rami said...

Thank you Hani (especially for reminding me about the Baron street glorious past.)

Anonymous and Daoud, thx for the info. I will add them to the original post.

Sara, I will reserve Agatha christie’s room for you :)

Olivia, thank you for stopping by…
I am sure the romance will always be there.

Fadi-Amman, Dina, Shop girl, Aleppian & Steliano , Thx

June 10, 2005 9:47 PM  
Blogger Stellar said...

Oh wow!! U know I love Agatha christie's work, especially her playes. "10 little Indians" is my favorite. I'll be honored to stay in her room. Thank you so much, you knew exactly what to choose. Hehehe...

June 11, 2005 8:56 AM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

1. I have decided to stay at the Baron this summer.

2. I found a great site in French about Syria with a whole section about the Baron

I don't know if you caught TV5, 24 houres in Syria. The site is a summary of the show. THank you again for a great post.

June 11, 2005 1:46 PM  
Blogger Oz said...

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

hi all, this is a nice post and a nice blog, i think i've to look for more blogs, because i think that i miss a lot of things, I'm french, my mother's from Aleppo, and my father from Damascus. I don't wanna make some people angry against me, but i THink that Aleppo is much more beautiful than Damascus, In general.
for u rami, I'll make a link to ur website. BBFn

June 11, 2005 3:04 PM  
Blogger Oz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 11, 2005 4:41 PM  
Blogger Rami said...

Steliano, which room would like to stay in? Lawrence of Arabia’s?
I watched TV5's entire program when it was aired, and taped it. It was amazing...

June 12, 2005 3:05 AM  
Blogger Rami said...

I posted some photos of the Franciscan Monastery on flickr (I found them on the net)

I will try to find you some photos of Aleppo University Medical School.
Meanwhile, check out this website, it has one picture and some info. about the school

June 12, 2005 3:11 AM  
Blogger Oz said...

thk u sir!
keep on postin'

June 12, 2005 3:29 PM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

Rami I would definitely want to stay in Lawrence of Arabia's room. Have you watched the movie.

There is also King Faisal's room, or maybe Charles Lindebergh

June 12, 2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger Omar said...

well written Rami. You know with your posts and Ayman's I don't know where to spend my time in Syria.. I think I will need a 4 month vacation :)

June 12, 2005 8:09 PM  
Blogger piano-3 said...

HI Rami
this blog is so nice thanks to u and because Aleppo and Syria in general is great.
2nshallah i'll visit the Baron hotel this summer.
i thought it was called Baron because the arminyan workers were going baron baron allah day long ( wich is sir) but u r saying that the owners were arminyan
any way thank u and by by

June 13, 2005 11:55 PM  
Blogger Steliano Ponticos said...

Yes I agree with Piano..Baron is Sir in Armenian. Its not they were Barons or least I thought so

June 14, 2005 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other guests ,Marechal Tito ,Gamal Abdel Nasser,Charles Aznavour...

June 15, 2005 4:23 AM  
Anonymous hopeless romantic said...

Hi Rami I am on a quest looking for information on hotel romantic. I ran across your blog doing a search and thought I would stop by to see if you had any information. Hey, it is nice to see that other people like the same things I do. Anyway thanks for the read.

December 18, 2005 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Hi. I would like to make friends with people who enjoy archeaology. I've joined this site (archeaology) to try to meet some new friends but I wondered if you knew of any other such sites.
interested in archeaology

December 30, 2005 8:24 PM  
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