Jordanian monarch's villa in Jerusalem turns into shelter for junkies   2010-11-22 00:17:16 FeedbackPrintRSS

JERUSALEM, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- A villa in northern Jerusalem, which was slated to be the Jordanian royal family's official vacation residence, an architectural masterpiece that would host dignitaries from around the globe, has turned into a shelter for drug users, local media reported Sunday.

Most Jerusalemites refer to it as Hussein's Palace, a two-story structure of grayish, barren cement that sits atop a hill in northern Jerusalem and known by its Arabic name Tel el-Ful.

The construction of the palace has never been completed, however, it has recently become a shelter for drug users and couples looking for a secluded spot, local daily Ma'ariv reported on Sunday.

In the early 1960s, when northern Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule, late King Hussein hired the Hashemite Kingdom's finest architects to plan his dream villa. The original plan called for a grandiose structure of three stories with interconnected arches and plated with Jerusalem stone.

But construction came to a halt in the aftermath of the 1967 war, following Israel's seizure of the area. The villa, whose planners had only managed to complete erecting its skeleton, has since remained empty.

The structure has become a shelter for junkies as of late. Smoking paraphernalia and empty condoms litter the place. A sharp stench of urine and graffiti in Hebrew and Arabic attest to further neglect.

"Sometimes I hear screaming coming from the structure and it's simply scary," a local resident of Pisgat Ze'ev, an Israeli neighborhood adjacent to the site, told Ma'ariv.

He said couples looking for a secluded retreat and youth in search of a safe place to smoke drugs, frequent the place.

"This spot has tremendous potential. Why not turn it into a nice museum?" the man pondered.

Citing political considerations behind the site's ongoing neglect, unnamed local officials said that attempts to complete the structure would potentially "raise a storm in Jordan."

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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