A historic Tiberias hotel, depicted by Israeli artist Nahum Gutman (1898-1980) in the pre-state British Mandate era, reopened on Friday (July 24) after 61 years of lying in ruins. The boutique hotel - closed since 1948 when it was damaged in Israel's War of Independence and now renamed Shirat Hayam (Song of the Sea)" - will have 11 rooms. Originally known as the Haifa Hotel, the inn was founded in 1850 and expanded in 1925. The landmark four-storey 500-sq.m. building on the Sea of Galilee waterfront is made from local black basalt. The hotel is depicted in Gutman's painting "The Tiberias Boardwalk," as well as in paintings by other well-known artists. Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum was a hotel guest in 1946, after which the hotel was renamed in her honor "Star of the East." The hotel was shelled and abandoned during the April 1948 battle of Tiberias. After independence, the abandoned property was taken over by government housing company Amidar Ltd., which renovated it and leased it to several tenants. Tiberias, a picturesque lakeside city popular with Christian pilgrims and aficionados of thermal baths, has a number of historic inns including the Scots Hotel and the YMCA Peniel.