Follow the road meandering through endless olive tree fields. Ask for directions again and again from old men chatting on the side of the road at an Abi Nasr cafe. Make a detour through Ehden, and you’ll reach what looks on first sight like a typical town in northern Lebanon.
Across the welcome sign at the entrance of Miziara stands a life-size nativity scene with a hundred or more figures. Barely half a mile away, the panorama becomes even more surreal—there are a few extravagant examples of megalomaniacal architecture in California, but none competes with those one finds in Miziara.
Built in 1975, the most flamboyant of all local buildings is the Airplane House. Two floors, 30 portholes on each side, a short and roundish nose cone, two reactors on each wing; it’s a detailed copy of an Airbus A380, until you get to the tail—the circle of stars of the European Union’s flag has been transformed into a small window hosting a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Up the dirt road sits in state what promises to be a proper Greek temple slowly taking shape amid piles of wide marble stones waiting to be cut and installed. Next door, another undaunted architect has assembled towers of all shapes and sizes in a habitat-like structure that looks made out of random Lego pieces. […]