Today, Beirut is an intoxicating mess of new highrises, deserted ruins and the shambles of beautiful but neglected architecture from French colonial times. I have never seen a city where destruction and reconstruction are lined up so intimately, almost at random, offering images from global commercialism next to emblems of a traditional past and vacant lots where the rubble of streetcorner shoot-outs have hardly been cleaned up.
Darkly watching out over the city is the Mur tower, an empty skyscraper that was never finished when war broke out. During the fighting, it served as a hide-out for snipers who had a free view of the city centre from its empty windows. The story goes that enemy soldiers where thrown down from the upper floors after interrogation and torture. Since the war, its owner, interior minister Mur, took no action to either finish the building or tear it down. Only recently, it became municipal property. The fate of the Mur tower is still unsure. In the meantime, it serves as a lugubrious reminder of the dark years, impossible to ignore for anyone walking the streets of Beirut.