A historical villa that speaks of war ghosts past
Sofar village owes its existence to the railway built by the Ottomans in 1880 which linked Beirut to Rayyak in the Beqaa valley with many stops on the way and one of them being Sofar. Because of its easy access, purity of air and stunning location overlooking the beautiful Hammana Lamartine valley, the village quickly grew under the impulse of Beirut's "Haute Bourgeoisie" who made it its favourite summer destination by building many lavish villas.The center of attraction was no doubt the Sofar Grand Hotel, built in 1890 by the Sursocks immediately opposite the train station. This legendary hotel attracted the highest of society as well as the elite of gamblers every summer since first opening its doors and up to the civil war in 1975. The Villa known as Donna Maria Sursock's residence was built by her husband Alfred in 1909. The villa looks a little like a small fairy tale castle and is interesting because of its decorative elements in cast cement, a novelty at the time. It was used extensively all summers up to 1975 and unfortunately, as with the hotel, it was severely damaged and looted by the various armies and militias roaming the area at the time of the civil war. Today, It stands wrecked and uninhabited, but forms a majestic and dramatic structure worth a visit. The villa and its surrounding gardens are also available for hire for private events and weddings. The front esplanade was totally rehabilitated as a first step towards complete restoration of the villa.