Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria villa faces demolition

Jan. 2014:  “The Alexandria villa that inspired one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed works of literature could soon be demolished, according to its new owner. Villa Ambron was once the home of Lawrence Durrell, the British author twice shortlisted for the Nobel prize for literature, whose experiences while living at the villa inspired his most famous work, The Alexandria Quartet. But the businessman who owns it says it may soon make way for a high-rise apartment block. If bulldozed, Durrell’s crumbling former home would become the 36th listed building from Alexandria’s fin-de-siècle heyday to be demolished in five years, according to campaigners. Up to 25 of the buildings were destroyed illegally by developers, prompting Alexandria’s historians and architects to fear for the legacy of a city that was once one of the grandest in the region. Many of the 1,135 buildings nominally protected by a 2006 preservation order are in serious disrepair and at risk of demolition. … Until the 1950s, Alexandria was one of the Mediterranean’s most cosmopolitan cities – attracting an eclectic mix of nationalities, religious groups, artists and writers. One of the biggest synagogues in the Middle East – once one of 14 in the city – still stands in sight of several mosques. A Catholic cathedral lies a stone’s throw from the seat of the Greek Orthodox church in Africa, and both are sited near Roman ruins. The novelist EM Forster and Greek poet CP Cavafy both lived in Alexandria, while the last king of Italy died there – all in buildings designed by some of the 19th century’s leading architects. Villa Ambron was one of the fulcrums of Alexandria’s cultural life. … After fleeing Nazi-occupied Greece, Durrell lived in the villa’s top floor for much of the second world war with his Alexandrian second wife, Eve Cohen – who was the inspiration for Justine, the heroine of The Alexandria Quartet. Durrell wrote the novel Prospero’s Cell in the house’s distinctive octagonal tower. …”
The Telegraph: Villa that inspired Lawrence Durrell faces demolition, as Egypt allows heritage to crumble
Historic Alexandria Villa Demolished Amid Continued Erasure of City’s Cultural Heritage

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