Photographer explores 160-year-old Lebanese mansion left abandoned after owner died in 2020 Port of Beirut explosion

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A photographer explores 160-year-old Lebanese mansion left abandoned after the owner died in the 2020 Port of Beirut explosion.

Sursock Palace is one of the last remaining residences of the Lebanese Ottoman-era located directly in line with the disaster site.

Former owner, Lady Cochrane Sursock, was inside the luxury residence during the explosion and died in hospital sometime later.

Story from Jam Press (Abandoned Palace) Pictured: The interior of the mansion

Despite being built in the 1860s, Sursock Palace is still a part of its namesake’s family who are committed to restoring it.

Currently, the reconstruction plan is set to take six years and cost an estimated €6 million.

Roman Robroek, 34, a full-time photographer from the Netherlands, was able to get inside the palace to capture not only the damage, but some of the impressive surviving features as well.

Pictured: The interior of the mansion showing signs of damage from the explosion

“Photographing Sursock Palace was part of a project I was shooting for The Heritage Management Organization last summer, where I was covering the impact of the blast that happened in the Port of Beirut in August 2020 on the architecture and cultural heritage in the city,” Roman told Jam Press.

“For this project, we partnered with a local NGO called Silat for culture.

“The lovely people of Silat for culture took care of my daily schedule, driving and arranging all the required permissions to enter the locations in the city. A lot of work was involved.

Pictured: The interior of the mansion

“The owner of the palace, Roderick Cochrane, was kind enough to open the doors of his palace for me to photograph the damage caused by the blast.”

In addition to art pieces, paintings, books and china, rooms directly facing the harbour where the explosion happened were most damaged.

Roman said: “Trust me, the harbour is really close to the palace. All of the glass was shattered and much of the indoor stucco was damaged

Pictured: The interior of the mansion showing signs of damage from the explosion

“The amount of damage I encountered was a big surprise to me. It was tough to see the impact of the blast on the architecture and state of the building. There was so much debris and valuable items were damaged.”

The extent of the destruction can be seen in the once intricately decorated ceiling, which has now been replaced with a temporary metal roof to weatherproof the site and prevent further damage.

In hopes of structurally preserving the building, the exterior is clad in scaffolding and netting. Inside, ornate walls and exposed beams are being supported with multiple metal structures.

The former grandeur of the palace is still detectable in certain rooms. The elaborate golden front door, stone pillars and arched windows are just a few of the impressive features.

Roman added: “The main and double staircase of the building is one of the features that stood out to me. The craftsmanship in the ironwork and the chandelier are stunning.”

The building and its contents were never insured resulting in various international organisations, university students and other parties stepping in to offer extra support.

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