The Israeli town of Beit She’an wastes no time on frills, fuss or flair. Beit She’an is situated below sea level, roughly halfway between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, where the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys meet.
Conquered by King David, it is now a way-station on a desert road uncomfortably close to hostile neighbours. The road in from the south runs between minefields, while that to the north is overlooked by the Golan Heights. Beit She’an’s sole piece of not-strictly-functional urban architecture is a telephone pole. That pole doubles as a war memorial, commemorating Israeli soldiers who lived in the town and died after they left there to fight in the army. Each soldier’s death is marked by a chair, just prosaic, painted wooden kitchen chairs hung by hooks up and down the pole.