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Tuesday, November 20, 2007 

Breathing life into history

London and Paris are now just about as close as Damascus and Beirut.

The Eurostar train's launched a new service whizzing between the two world cities in just over two hours.

They've restored St Pancras station into one of London's most attractive buildings.

The attention to detail is incredible. Even the metalwork has been painted in exactly the same shade of blue as it was when the station opened 100 years ago.

When it opened, it was the largest enclosed space in the world. Now, it has the claim of being one of the most impressive.

And the romanticism isn't lost on this place. Stations are meeting places, scenes of rekindled love. That's why I love this sculpture. It reaches almost to the ceiling of the building. And it's in exactly the right spot to stare you in the face when you step off the train.

But seeing posters telling you Paris is two hours away doesn't really mean anything.

It's when you see hoards of people pulling suitcases.

It's when you hear French voices mingling with English ones.

It's when you see English staff speaking French.

It's when you realise you can spend Euros in (a tiny corner of) London.

That's when you realise Paris has arrived in London. The past and future working together.

I'm impressed that London has been able to restore this place. A few years ago they were threatening to demolish it. London doesn't respect its history, because it's been so obsessed with the future. I hope Damascus isn't going that way. But when I hear the Amara plans, it makes me worried.

So it's good news when private businesses restore Damascene houses in the Old City - more on that soon. And even better news when we hear that there are finally plans to restore the Hijaz station.

The back part is going to be turned into another shopping mall, with the front restored to its former glory - exactly what happened to St Pancras. It'll be great to give such a fantastic building a better use than just a book fair.

haven't seen it yes, but heard of the opening. There is a slight misunderstanding though. Britain might have been obsessed with the future, but its always looked at its passed. It looked at history from a rather monumental and antiquarian perspective. There are numerous grade 2 listed buildings spread throughout the capital and have always wondered why Syria never tried to match the importance it gave to hits history. Its appalling what some vandals get a way with let alone the authorities. Prime example is the state the Aleppo citadel is in. me being from the north, last time I visited, i was shocked at the graffiti. But i like the idea of the Hijaz station. would that be operational too? that would the resurrection of a truly missed piece of history.

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About me

  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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