Restoration projects are some of our favorite posts to write on! The Sofia Sea of Galilee Hotel was an ancient Ottoman house in Tiberias, Israel from the late 19th century. The house has been transformed into a 120 room hotel, complete with spas, treatment rooms, dining and shops.
Designed and restored by Levin Packer Architects, the hotel retains its structural integrity, including the basalt stones, stone pillars and tiling. Architects discovered a seal on the tiles, reading “damascus.” Damascus is currently a city and the capital of Syria. It is mentioned in the bible and it is reputed to be the oldest continuously existing city in the world. This demonstrates the areas history during this time period, when the region did not have borders and trade was flourishing.
One of the only new materials applied to the hotels interior is brass. It was mainly added to accentuate through contrast the preserved ancient architecture. Another completely new building was created along with the restoration project. But similar to the brass, it highlights the real focus of the architects intention – to retain the story of the building through its preservation. Although one very noteworthy feature of the new building are the black stainless steel nets which look similar to Tiberias’ fishing nets.
The original archways, solid pillars and carrara marbling are showcased through the entirety of the hotel. The Sofia Hotel is like stepping into a time capsule. The feel of another place, even another world, can be experienced inside its main lobby, treatment rooms and Turkish hamman.