Lebanese snap pictures from the balcony of the Grand Theatre. Image Credit: Omar Delati

Beirut: Fenced off on a corner between Beirut’s Emir Bachir Street and Syria Street, Lebanon’s historic Grand Theater has become a favourite spot for protesters to take selfies.

It has been closed since Lebanon’s civil war started in 1975, but before that, the building which was built in 1929 hosted such musical legends as Umm Kulthoum and Mohammad Abdul Wahhab.

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Exterior shot of the Grand Theatre Image Credit: Bassam Za'Za

Its debut act in 1929 was a French musical called ‘No, No, Nanette’.

While the building, riddled with bullet-holes from the civil war, still stands today, many young Lebanese had no idea about the historical significance of the building.

However, because of its prime location, protesters broke into the abandoned building to snap photos from the balconies— because of the incredible vantage point of the protests from above.

Only later, after people started sharing photos taken from above, did they become aware of its historical significance.

“I had no clue. I climbed up to the roof to take photos of the protests. After posting photos on social media, my mother showed the photos to my dad and he told me that it is the historical Grand Theater that had a famous theatre, cinema and hotel,” Patricia S. told Gulf News.

The Grand Theatre has been fenced off since the 1990s when the war ended.

Plans to rennovate it have been delayed for decades.

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A protester snaps a selfie from the balcony of the Grand Theatre. Image Credit: Omar Delati

“I knew that there was a theater in Downtown Beirut but not where exactly. We  saw protestors sneaking in to take photos so we thought this might be it,” French theater director, Julien Bouffier, told Gulf News.

“It’s beautiful inside,” said French video-maker Laurent Rojol, who was also visiting the theatre.

French tourist, Sarah Riehl, said she took the opportunity to see the building that has been closed off from the public for decades.

“It is an amazing feeling. It is a huge a symbol of people taking back their freedom and enter places that were previously forbidden. Long live the revolution,” she said.

“It’s a shame they did not open this up earlier. I am happy to see this,” Syrian choreographer, Omar Baz, said.

“My grandfather used to tell us stories about it. I never knew it was this building. I cannot believe this revolution helped us discover this hidden gem,” Ranya, said, as she snapped pictures from the rooftop.

-With inputs from Layelle Saad, Middle East Editor