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Sursock: Ashrafieh’s prettiest palace

Did you ever wonder what’s inside the wealthy Lebanese Sursock family abode? Well, here comes your chance to find out.

The Sursock Palace was built by Moïse Sursock in 1860 in a traditional Lebanese style of architecture. It was recognized as one of the city’s grandest town houses and nowadays it is the largest private palace of that period that is still intact in Beirut.

Surrounded by a lush garden and provided with a big library having mahogany panels, the palace is located in Ashrafieh’s Rue Sursock. The garden sometimes hosts beautiful events.

You can find mid-nineteenth century plasterwork similar to that of the same era in Sicily, as well as marble steps, pillars and a terrace. Some of the walls inside the grand salon, the several dining and living rooms and inside the great hall are decorated with Flemish tapestries from the 15th to 17th centuries.

Today’s owner is Lady Yvonne Cochrane Sursock, the granddaughter of the original owner and an advocate for preserving historic buildings in the country. It was her father Alfred Bey Sursock who increased the size of the gardens and improved the collections of pictures, carpets and other art objects, which are amongst the finest and best preserved in the Middle East. The Palace houses a large collection of Italian pictures from the 16th and 17th centuries, contemporary Lebanese art and antique Lebanese jewelry.

Alfred Bey Sursock also found a collection of glass mostly from the second century A.D. and still in good condition in the rock tombs under his garden. Unfortunately, during the war the great art collection was destroyed. Lady Cochrane also had to restore a dining room which was heavily damaged.

The visitor’s kiosk in the garden is even older than the main house and was turned into a Hamam when the Palace was built. The huge garden is today the biggest in the whole city.

The Sursock family, originally came from Constantinople. The Sursocks have been recorded as living in Beirut since 1714.  The family became wealthy in the beginning of the 19th century with their successful wheat and cotton empire extending from Turkey to Egypt. Later they manufactured cotton mills.

(Photo from Sursock Palace The Gardens Facebook page)