If the municipality of Beirut has its way, these two-century old trees will be torn down to make way for a parking lot.

Located in Geitawi’s Jesuit Garden, the evergreens once formed part of a much larger green space and farm that stretched all the way to the Greek Orthodox hospital.

It was run by the Jesuits who settled in the area in the 1600s and created the garden in the 19th century, according to historian Charles Hayak, who was giving free tours during today’s protest.

Not surprisingly, Beirut municipality has been tight-lipped about its plans for a garage, which it says will feature a vaguely-defined “green space” on top.

Activists say any new garden will only sustain small plants and bushes, because of the thin layer of dirt that will be allowed above the parking structure. They say the roots of the massive Cypress (?) trees on site go almost as deep as their above-ground height.

The Daily Star

On a technical level, opponents of the garage say the project defeats its purpose and will only attract more cars and fumes to the neighborhood. Many residents are demanding a public transport solution that will reduce the number of cars instead.

There’s also the problem of moving the 4th century mosaics on site. More to come on that.

But in the meantime, go check out the Jesuit garden if you get a chance. It’s a rare calm space, in a city whose bulldozers never seem to rest.

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