Built in 1990 by his father, and reportedly costing as much as $1 billion, Bashar al-Assad’s large fortress-like presidential palace, constructed of Italian marble and designed by noted Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, is a lifeless, though grand, place.

Located on a hilltop above Syria’s capital city of Damascus, the compound, which reportedly has never been actually used by any of the Assad clan, features 66-foot-high rooms and driveways that resemble, from above, an erect phallus.

Visiting the place is “like entering the Emerald City of Oz, as remodeled by the North Koreans … a cold and intimidating fortress, empty except for scurrying aides,” journalist Stephen Talbot noted.

Source: The Guardian

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