Breathtaking abandoned silk factory amidst banana plantations on the shores of Damour: do not miss this landmark only locals know about! (until now that is)
Around a 30 min drive (20km) south of Beirut lies the town of Damour. Best known for its sandy and rocky beaches (Iris and Oceana among others), Damour has much more to offer the discerning traveller. Exit the highway and delve deep into the town’s trademark banana plantations until you reach an abandoned abbey-like structure overlooking the shore: you’ve reached the Damour silk factory or “Kerkhane”. One of 5 ancient silk factories in the city, and the largest, the Kerkhane offers a glimpse of the town’s past status as a hub for silk production the region. Just ask Mr Michel, owner of the Abboudi bakery in the center of town. He will not hesitate to assert with enthusiasm that “Damour used to produce the best silk in the world”; the factories employing many of the town dwellers. Today, the main factory’s inhabitants are restricted to an army of weeds and daisies peacefully co-existing and the occasional adventurous children of local farmers, playfully gallivanting around the ruins. The pride of all Dwemras (or Damour-natives), it stands tall in all of its might, a tragic reminder of glorious days past and of the inertia of days present. Next time you plan on heading for the Damour shores, make sure to include a pit-stop at the silk factory on the way and let your imagination run wild.