And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.
Lure of Babylon is powerful draw
Iraq, U.N. undertake project to restore city, transform it into center for cultural tourism
NEW YORK TIMES - Jeffrey Gettleman - April 27, 2006 - BABYLON, Iraq -
- In this ancient city, it is hard to tell what are ruins and what is just ruined.
Crumbling brick buildings, some 2,500 years old, look like smashed sand castles at the beach. Famous sites, like the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, are swallowed up by river reeds. Signs of military occupation are everywhere, including trenches, bullet casings, shiny coils of razor wire and blast walls stamped, "This side Scud protection."
Babylon, the mud-brick city with the million-dollar name, has paid the price of war. It has been ransacked, looted, torn up, paved over, neglected and roughly occupied. Archaeologists said American soldiers even used soil thick with priceless artifacts to stuff sandbags.
But Iraqi leaders and U.N. officials are not giving up. They are working assiduously to restore Babylon and turn it into a cultural center and possibly even an Iraqi theme park. No one is saying this is going to happen any time soon, but what makes the project even conceivable is that the area around Babylon is one of the safest in Iraq -- a beacon of civilization, once again, in a land of chaos.
Ancient Babylon, celebrated as a fount of law, writing and urban living, sits just outside the modern-day city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.
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