As a student, Lebanese Moussa Abdel Karim Al-Maamari had a tough time.
Poor, he was beaten and mocked by a teacher who told him he would never amount to anything. Even his sweetheart ridiculed him, saying she would never marry him and that she planned to marry someone rich with a castle. It was at this moment that the dream took hold of Moussa’s 14-year-old mind.
As a teenager, Moussa had the fortune to work with his uncle to restore a Lebanese castle. With the money he earned from restoring the castle and other museum work, a 20-year-old Moussa was able to begin work on what would become a lifelong project and obsession: his castle.
Moussa bought land in the Shouf mountains between Deir Al-Qamar and Beit-Eddine and began building. Over the next 40 years, with only occasional help from neighboring peasants, Moussa hand-built his massive, sprawling castle. A fan of medieval architecture, Moussa’s is a true castle with a moat, drawbridge, and medieval-style ramparts.
Inside, Moussa was as creative and eccentric, filling the castle with his gun collection, daggers, swords and Bedouin jewelry as well as wax figures depicting scenes from 1960s Lebanon including a room showing a teacher striking a student – a painful memory from Moussa’s childhood.
Now in his seventies, Moussa has given his life to his dream, but without question he now qualifies for his high school sweetheart’s desire to marry “someone with a castle.” Moussa also wrote a book, “The Dream of My Life,” about building the castle.