Photo story

Younis, the guard of the castle... the companion of silent walls


For years, Younes Diop has been opening the door of the Al-Marqab castle daily, hoping to receive tourists or visitors who have always been crowded at the archaeological site overlooking the Syrian coast.

Every morning, Diop (49 years old) goes to the castle overlooking the beach of Banias, carrying a large iron key to open its main door. He sits inside a wooden room that he used to cut tickets for visitors, whose arrival has become almost non-existent since the outbreak of the war.

"Although the gates of the castle are still open, days and weeks go by without me getting a ticket," says the guard, who took up his job 15 years ago.

"This has been the case since the start of the war" that has ravaged Syria since 2011.

Bored, Diop leaves his seat and wanders around the castle, whose walls are high and devoid of any semblance of life.

He added, "A war for years, then the (Covid-19) epidemic, then the fuel crisis... all of this stopped the influx of tourists, and the internal visits decreased significantly."

"I feel lonely here, and I have no friends but these tall, silent walls," Diop says.

And he continues, "I promised myself to enter the visitors free of charge and at my own expense for a week when the movement returns to its previous era. I hope that day will come soon."

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