Thursday, May 26, 2011

Damascus Chic: A Guide worth the Read

When the first travel guides were originally conceived around the 18th century, roaming the world was a luxury only the very wealthy could afford. Instead, they were mostly destined for home-bound individuals with a desire to experience exotic lands from the comfort of an armchair. Written in often flowery descriptive prose and accompanied by equally exotic illustrations, they were the equivalent of a hand-held cabinet of curiosities.

Today such books are rare to find; but if there was ever a chic travel guide this is it:
Damascus: A Travel Guide
(Editions de la Revue Phenicienne)

My dear friend Carole Corm (a talented writer and fellow polyglot) recently sent me a copy of her latest project in the mail. Teaming up with May Mamarbachi (the name behind Damascus’s first boutique hotel, Beit Al Mamlouka), the two set out to create a guide that merges old-world allure with 21st century characters.

Within this beautifully bound guide, Damascus’ hidden gems are revealed through the eyes of its worldly inhabitants (including architects, boutique owners, artists and filmmakers).

What’s fascinating about this guide is how it captures a city where history rubs shoulders with the 21st century. A 15th century Jewish merchant’s house now a boutique hotel or an Art Deco building now home to an artist’s studio. In a sense it’s a homage to a city with a long history of cultural co-mingling.

Merci Carole pour ce beau cadeau!

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