Tourism in Lebanon

About Lebanon

Facts About Lebanon

POPULATION: Approximately 3.8 million

LANGUAGES: Arabic (official), French, English.

AREA: 10,452 square kilometers

CLIMATE: Mediterranean climate, with cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers.

ELEVATIONS: Highest point - Qornet es Saouda (3,090 meter).

FLAG: The Lebanese flag is divided into three wide horizental stripes, with red on the top and botton and a wider white stripe in the middle. In the center of the white stripe is a green cedar tree, the emblem of the country.

ECONOMY: Lebanon capitalizes on the initiative of its people and its geographical location to make up for a lack of natural resources. Traditionally, a substantial percentage of the country's income derives from remittances sent by the millions of Lebanese residing overseas. A service-based economy,  its trading, banking, and financial facilities, as well as its free currency market, made Lebanon the region's commercial and tourist center before  the war. With peace established and reconstruction underway, Lebanon is once again serving as the commercial and tourism capital in the area.
About 38% of the country is under cultivation, with wheat, vegetables, fruit, tobacco, and olives the main crop categories. There is considerable livestock farming as well. Industry ranges from cement to textiles, clothing, furnitures, canned goods, and light meals. Tourism, one of the mainstays of the pre-war economy, is being revived.
To help strenghten the economy, the government has initiated a low income tax schedule to provide investment incentives, increase disposable income, and expand the tax base.

CURRENCY AND BANKING: Movement of currency into and out of the country and all exchange transactions are completely free of any kind of control. Gold and silver coins may be freely exchanged, imported, and exported. The official monetary unit is the Lebanese Pound.
Banking is a major industry in Lebanon with strict banking secrecy one of its important features. More than 80 banks operate in the country, and transactions are performed efficiently and at low cost.

GOVERNMENT: Lebanon is a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government and a cabinet headed by a prime minister. Its constitution is based on the separation of executive, legislative, and judicial power, with a president elected for a six-year term. The 128 members of parliament are elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS: The Lebanese Republic is divided into six regional administrative districts, or Mohafazaat: Beirut, Mount  Lebanon, North Lebanon, Bekaa, South Lebanon, and Nabatie.

EDUCATION: There is a nationwide network of elementary and secondary public schools, which is supplemented by many private schools. Instruction is given in at least two languages.
Today, Lebanon has seven major universities and numerous specialized colleges and schools:
. St Joseph Universities, founded and run by Jesuit Fathers, has for over century and a quarter contributed to the Lebanese and Arab intelligentsia.
. The American University of Beirut, founded in 1866, offers a liberal education that has trained many of the region's leaders, educators, and scientists.
. A Lebanese state university was founded in 1967, comprising faculties of law, medicine, arts and sciences, and a teacher training college.
. Later, the Beirut Arab University, with faculties of arts, law, commerce, and engineering was opened.
. The venerable Lebanese American University has also had an important influence.
. In recent years, many new universities have sprung up throughout the country, notably Haigazian University in Beirut; the Holy Spirit University and Notre Dame University, both north of Beirut; University of Balamand. south of Tripoli; the Islamic University in Khaldeh and many others.

Learn Arabic language in Beirut:
- Dareen - Professional Arabic teacher
- Saifi Institute for Arabic Language - Pasteur Street - Gemmayze Mrs Rana Dirani &  Mr Mac McClenahan
- Universite Saint Joseph - Damascus Road -  next to Museum Square/Sodeo Square - Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes Arabe -  Mrs Rana Bekdache-  961 1 421000 extension 5515 - -
- Centre Culturel Francais - Damascus Road - next to Museum Square/Sodeco Square -
- Bayt el Arabi - Zico House, ground floor, Spears Street, Beirut 

Learn Arabic Language in Tyre
- Arizona Language Center -  Zayat Center, 1st floor, above the Jarjoui car wash, across from the Jaafariya school

The "Keefak" application is currently available in English and French, with plans to establish Spanish and Portuguese versions. (The Keefak application currently retails at 4.99 USD).

Discover and Explore
Lebanon's diverse patchwork of Mediterranean lapped coast, rugged alpine peaks, and green fertile valleys, is packed into a parcel of land some 225 km long and 46 km wide - an area approximately the size of Cyprus or Connecticut. An ancient land, Lebanon features in the writings of Homer and in the Old Testament. Its cities where major outposts and seaports in Phoenician and Roman times, just two of the great civilizations that touched this important Middle Eastern crossroads.
The cosmopolitan flair of modern-day Beirut, the gastronomic renown of the country's food and wine, and an educated and outward looking population complement a country that is both traditional and progressive in outlook. For all the flavors of its storied past and rugged natural beauty, Lebanon is a well-kept tourist secret that begs exploration.
There are four main geographic regions in  Lebanon, differentiated by topography and climate. From west to east, they include: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon Range, the Bekaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range.
The Anti-Lebanon Range  is a stretch of arid and mountains that rise to the east of the Bekaa Valley and form part of the country's eastern border with Syria.
The Bekaa Valley known, known in ancient times as the " breadbasket " or "granary " of the Roman Empire, is still the country's main agricultural region. Located on a high plateau between the country's two main ranges
the river-fed Bekaa supports the production of tomatoes, potatoes, wheat, olives and grapes, even despite
summers that are hot and dry.
Beside some of Lebanon's best wineries (Ksara, Kefraya, Massaya) the Bekaa's major attraction is the ruins at Baalbeck. Originating as a place of worship to Baal, the Phoenician Sun God, Baalbeck was known in Greco Roman times as the famous Heliopolis , or "City of the Sun". Perhaps because of  the region's agricultural importance in feeding the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, some of the largest Roman Temples
ever constructed were erected at this site. The construction lasted over 200 years, and the well preserved temples honor Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus.
The lovely Lebanese coast is framed by the Mediterranean Sea to the west and Mount Lebanon Range  to the West, its temperate climate bringing in sunny, hot summers and cool rainy winters. The daytime temperature in the summer which average 30 degree centigrades encourages people to head to the beach or to the higher, altitude-cooler mountain slopes. In the coastal cities of Saida (Sidon) and Jbail (Byblos), tourists can enjoy the rare opportunity to snorkel amongst long-submerged Phoenician ruins, while excellent hiking is a mere hour away in the Chouf region of the Mount Lebanon Range.
The Mount Lebanon Range includes numerous rivers that fizz with snowmelt, steep-walled gullies that shade grottoes once the hideout to those fleeing persecution, and also Lebanon's highest summit Qornet es Sawda (3,090 m). In winter, the high peaks are blanketed with snow, lending Lebanon its name, Lubnan, the arabic name for "white." Lebanon boasts a number of world-class ski resorts, one of only a couple countries in the Middle East where you can ski. The ski season runs from December until April.
The Mount Lebanon Range is also the location of Lebanon's Cedar Reserve. The great cedar forests of Lebanon, now protected are famous for their use in the construction of some of the holliest buildings in the region, indeed the world, including, Jerusalem' Dome of the Rock and Solomon Temple's.

Hidden Lebanon
Beirut's oft-invoked "Paris of the East" designated is certainly well deserved, with plenty of sighseeing, shopping, cuisine, and nightlife to keep any fast-moving bon viveur within the city limits for the duration of his or her stay.
However, also consider the fabulous coutryside beyond Beirut if you're looking for a true taste of Lebanon, an experience best found through a more lenghty exploration of the country's mountain villages, small seaside towns, and vibrant agriculture hamlets.
Take the breathtaking Qadisha Valley (or "Holy Valley"), once a refuge for Maronite Christian followers, which now provides sanctuaries of a different kind:  serpentine hiking trails, fast-flowing mountain streams, and beautiful alpine views offer a natural escape for Lebanese and tourists alike.
In fact, Lebanon's outlook adventure scene is increasingly popular, and a growing number of small, local enterprises and outfitters are fueling something of an ecotourism boom. An extensive network of trails service single and multy day hikes, while ecotour operators can arrange for suppliers and accomodation in a mix of campsites, B&BS, and hotel along the way.
Snowmelt fed rivers come to life with challenging, runnable rapids in the spring, while the Mediterranean coast boasts the usual array of water sports, from snorkelling and diving to windsurfing and sailing. Clearly, whatever your outdoor persuasion, Lebanon appeals naturally to the spirit of any adventure traveler.
Lebanon beyond Beirut caters to more than just high-octane thrill seekers. In a landscape reminescent at times of Tuscany or the hilly terrain of coastal California, lesurly walks in the beautiful mountain gorges, through red-roofed villages and past 1,000 year old cedars, will certainly provide a tranquil alternative to Beirut's many cosmopolitan delights. Historical and cultural escapes are also close at hand. Tour the country's many many archaeological and religious sites in the south, and spend the next day learning about organic farming with lunch at the farm.
Discover high-quality traditional crafts such as olive oil soap, blown glass, or pottery made in the tradition of the Phoenicians. Spend your day picking fruit in the Bekaa Valley, and round it off with a glass of wine fashioned from grapes plucked from those same orchards. Whatever off-the-beaten-path actively you seek, one thing's for sure: your Lebanon itinerary can be as action packed, culturally decadent, or whimsical as you choose!

 Baalbeck - Zahle - Chtaura - Bekaa Valley
20% Off
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon Photographic Print
A vast open valley nestled in the east between Lebanon's two mountain ranges. The Bekaa Valley has been known since ancient times as the "breadbasket of Lebanon". The Valley is a checkboard of fields, dotted with small villages - a testament of the region's agricultural heritage. Here you will find a center of Lebanese gastronomy, with a number of wineries producing world-renowned Lebanese wines, and an array  local restaurants with mouth-watering Lebanese cuisine.
The Bekaa Valley might also be known as a "corridor of civilisations".  Throughout ancient history, the Valley was a thoroughfare for commerce, a meeting point for major trading routes connecting Damascus with the coast and the Arabian Peninsula to more northern regions. The many impressive archaeological ruins in the Valley reflects  its historical role as a crossroads for the civilizations that have inhabited the area over time.

What to see and do in the Bekaa ?
- Visit Zahle, Lebanon's  "City of Wine and Poetry, " to enjoy tantalising local cuisine in a beautiful, traditional setting and view traditional red-roofed architecture. Relax at one of Zahle's beautiful, open-air restaurants, set on a cliff above the Berdaouni River, shaded by vine-covered awnings and leafy trees.
- Tour the Bekaa's world class wineries and sample for yourself the fruits of Lebanon's 4,000 years-old-tradition of wine making. The Bekaa's arid, and sunny days and cool evenings create the perfect vineyard climate.
- Explore the magnificient Roman ruins at Baalbeck, home of the best preserved and largest Roman temples in the world.
- Walk along wide avenues lined with graceful stone arches in the ruins of the 9th century Ummayad city of Anjar. Explore the city's commercial history by visiting the remains of over 600 small shops, city walls and gates temples, and baths.
- Go trekking or cycling or camping in the remote, beautiful, rollinmg hills and mountains of the northern Bekaa.
- Take an adventure rafting or kayaking trip on the Nahr al Assi river.
- Climb to the 5th century, rock cut monastery of Deir Mar M,aroun and visit the mysteriuos and monumental 2,000 years old Hermel Pyramid, near the city of Hermel.
- Discover the numerous Roman ruins sites nestled in the Bekaa's small villages, and then enjoy the traditional crafts, cuisine, and village life of the area.

Pan American: Beirut - Lebanon by Clipper c.1950s Art Print

Lebanon's capital city is a vibrant, stylish metropolis, with all of the fun, fashion, and flair that a city lover could look for. All over the city, sleek, modern buildings are springing up, alongside arabesque Ottoman and French style buildings, giving Beirut a unique style that is all its own. Perched on the shore of the blue Mediterranean Sea, Beirut has a balmy, mild climate that is perfect for year round visits. From sipping coffee shop at an open air cafe, to shopping for cutting edge fashion at a boutique shop, to exploring the trasures of the country's National Museum, to dancing the night away at a trendy club, Beirut has something to offer for everyone.

What to see and do
- Take a lesurly stroll through the Beirut Central District and marvel at the ornate, beautifully restored buildings with their arabesque yellow and pastel stonework, graceful arches, and wrought iron scrollwork. Along the way, discover the ancient ruins of Roman baths, markets, and buildings that have recently been uncovered and left exposed. Afterwards, enjoy strong Lebanese style coffee and tasty sweets at one of Beirut's many Parisian style sidewalk cafes.
- Get some exercise by walking, jogging roller balding, or biking along the long, wide Corniche which runs along the Mediterranean shore. At the southwestern end (Raouche), stop for a llok at Beirut's impressive Pigeon Rock's, which rise majestically from the waters just off the coastline.
- If the gym is more your style, visit one of Beirut's world class, trendy health clubs for a workout, followed by a spa treatment or a massage.
- Spend an afternoon discovering the antiquities of Beirut's National Museum, which houses treasures that trace the history of the region - from prehistoric Egyptian artifacts. to Phoenician statues and glassware, to Roman and Byzantine jewelry.
- Shop until you drop at one of Beirut's unique artisanat shops, selling high quality Lebanese handicrafts, or look for trendy, contemporary fashions along Hamra Street or at one of the city's chic shopping malls.
- Dine at one of Beirut's world-class restaurants, and then party the night away at one of Beirut's hip nightclubs, or test your luck at the Casino du Liban .
- Explore the city's religious heritage by visiting its well preserved mosques and churches built from the 12th to 19th centuries.

Northern Lebanon
Northern Lebanon uniquely blends the outdoors with extensive historical and cultural attractions. With the country's highest mountain, Qornet Es Saouda ( 3,090 m ), as well as the highest ski resort, The Cedars, this region offers a rocky, rugged terrain that makes Lebanon unique in the Middle East. At the far northern end of the Mt. Lebanon range, the Akkar region is the most remote area of the country , housing traditional villages and beautiful scenery. Throughout northern Lebanon, mountain climbing, skiing, hiking, caving, and other outdoor opportunities abound.
In the heart of northern Lebanon are some of the country's most unique and sacred religious sites, making the region a spiritual - as well as natural - haven. The Holy Qadisha Valley has been a place of refuge for those fleeing religious persecution since the 5th century. As the seat of the Maronite Church (a Catholic sect established in Lebanon in the 6th century A.D.), the Valley houses some of the most important early Christian monastic settlement pilgrimage and retreat.
Tripoli, now Lebanon's second largest city, faced its share of drama through the ages. Inhabited since the 14th century B.C., it was ruled sequentially by the Persians, Alexander the Great's successors, the Romans, Mamluke Muslims. and Turkish Ottomans. As a result, the city filled with history, including mosques, Turkish baths, a crusader castle, and restored souks.

What to see and do
- See Lebanon's second largest city, Tripoli, and search for unique traditional crafts in its labyrinthe souks.
- Hike along a rippling river through the lush, cool Qadisha Valley to visit the ancient rock-cut monasteries clinging precipitously to the steep.
- Marvel at the size and majesty of Lebanon's 1,000 year old Cedar trees at Arz Al Rab near Bcharre or the Tannourine Cedars Forest Reserve.
- Climb Lebanon's tallest mountain, Qornet Es Saouda ( 3,090 m ), and take to the slopes at the country's highest ski resort, The Cedars.
- Grab a boat to Palm Islands Nature Reserve to watch birds ( some 300 species during migratory seasons), Eendangered sea turtles, and other wildlife.
- Go caving or rappel deep into a rocky sinkhole in the mountains near Tannourine.
- Explore the dense forests and spectacular scenery and wildlife in the remote Akkar regio9n on a multi-day hike.

Mount Lebanon

The Mount Lebanon region is an outdoor adventure lover's paradise. With high, snow capped mountains running north to south through the center of the country, this region offers a rocky, rugged terrain that is perfect for a variety of outdoor sports and adventure activities. On the west side of the mountain range, the foothills slope down to the sunny Mediterranean coast. On the east side stretches the wide, agricultural Bekaa Valley. At the height of Mount Lebanon's peaks are excellent opportunities for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, and other winter and outdoor adventure sports.
At high altitudes, the famed ancient cedar trees of Lebanon still grown in this region, their large, majestic green canopies towering over a backdrop of whitem snow-covered hill. At the southern end of Mount Lebanon, the Chouf region is home to the country's  larges nature reserve, the Al Chouf Cedar Reserve, a mountainous forested area with an abundance of trees, birds, endangered mammals, and unique plant life. The reserve is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and bird watchers.
Scattered throughout Mount Lebanon are interesting historical and cultural sites, making for a unique blend of natural and historical attractions. Viist the quaint villages in the Chouf mountains to get a taste of the traditional rural life of the region. Tour the ornate reception rooms and baths of the Beiteddine Palace to get a taste of the 19th century lofe of the Emirs. To go even further back in history, visit the ruins of Jbail ( Byblos ), on the coast, where there are remains of settlements dating back to the Stone Age.

What to see and do 
- Take to the slopes at one of Mount Lebanon's world-class ski resorts.
- Hike through the ancient cedar forests of the Al Chouf Cedar Reserve and take in the breathtaking panoramic views from the peaks of the Reserve rugged's mountains.
- Tour the majestic 19th century palace complex at Beiteddine, and view the beautiful restored Ottoman era chambers, bathhouses, and the large museum of Byzantine and Roman mosaics.
- Explore the layers of ruins from Lebanon's ancient civilizations at the coastal city of Jbail ( Byblos ), one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the birthplace of the Roman alphabet.
- Enjoy walking along small avenues lined with stone, red-roofed buildings in a traditional Chouf village, such as Deir el Qamar, enjoy a taste of the traditional cuisine at a small local restaurant or cafe.
- Go mountain biking or hiking along one of the many mountain trails that cover Mount Lebanon's rugged peaks.
- Visit the cool mountain villages and summer resorts throughout the region, a popular local destination for summer holidays and weekend getaways.

South Lebanon

South Lebanon is a historian and archaeologist's delight, with a history dating back to the Assyrians over 6,000 years ago. The region's rolling hills slopping down to sandy Mediterranean beaches are dotted with Biblical sites, Roman and Phoenician ruins, remnants of the Crusades, and the major Phoenician trading centers of Saida ( Sidon ), and Sour ( Tyre ). The ancient cities of the region are like one-stop to explore the ancient civilzations  and history of the Mediterranean, with remnants of Egyptian, Assyrian Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, and Ottoman civilizations.
While South Lebanon's historical sites can easily keep you busy, the area has a number of other attractions, including the pristine beaches south of Sour ( Tyre ) and the rare opportunity to snorkel or dive  among long submerged  Phoenician and Roman ruins near the ancient cities of Saida ( Sidon ) and Sour ( Tyre ). Culture lovers will enjoy exploring bustling Ottoman era souks, and every one can relax after a long day at seafood restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

What to see and do in South Lebanon

- Explore the remains of the largest and best-preserved Roman hippodrome in the world at the Sour ( Tyre ) archaeological site, and discover the many other remnants of this ancient coastal metropolis.
- View the ruins of the Phoenician Temple of Echmoun, a well preserved complex honoring the principal god of the city of Saida ( Sidon ).
- Visit the village of Qana, where Jesus Christ is said to have performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding he was attending with his mother and disciples.
- Snorkel among submerged Phoenician ruins outside of Sour ( Tyre ) and Saida ( Sidon ).
- Catch a glimpse of endangered sea turtles and other fascinating marine life at tghe Tyre Coast Nature Resaerve, and go for a swim at one of the south's pristine beaches.
- See the Sea Castle, a Crusader castle sitting on a small island in the old harbor, connected by a stone bridge to mainland Saida ( Sidon ).
- Discover the ancient tradition of glass-making, dating back to Phoenician times, in the village of Sarafand.

Culture and history
Explore culture and history

An interesting archaeological relic found throughout Lebanon is the hundreds of well preserved mosaics from the Roman and Byzantine eras. Countless colorful, tiny stones form intricate images of mythological figures, religious deities, and geometric designs. The mosaic is symbolic of modern-day Lebanon, which is a country characterized by a diversity of cultures traditions, and religions interwoven through time. It is this unique diversity which fascinates travelers.
Thanks to its location at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa Lebanon has been shaped by many civilizations throughout history. Its position as a meeting point for diverse peoples is evident in the extraordinary richness of its archaeological sites and historical monuments. From Stone Age settlements to Phoenician city-states, from Roman temples to rock-cut Cristian hermitages, from Crusader Castles to Mamluke mosques and Ottoman hammams, the country's historical sites are a true encyclopedia of ancient and modern world history.
Modern Lebanese society is characterized by this same cultural diversity. Most Lebanese people speak Arabic, English and French. As you walk the streets of downtown Beirut, you will pass domed mosques and steepled churches, reflecting the country's religious and architectural legacies. Regionally, each part of the coutryside has its own local flavor, with different villages preserving a different culinary, artistic, religious, or cultural traditions.
A visit to any of Lebanon's ancient archaeological ruins, traditional villages, or religious sites will truly give you a taste of the cultural mosaic of this captivating country.


A trip through Lebanon is a journey through the annals of some of the world's greatest civilizations. With over 5,000 years of recorded history, the country is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders, waiting to be discovered by visitors who want a glimpse into the ancient and modern past. Most of Lebanon's historical sites have layers upon layers of ruins, with each layer uncovering the story of another civilization that inhabited this ancient land.
A trip through Lebanon's history begins in Jbail (Byblos), where archaeologists have discovered the earliest known settlement in Lebanon. Today, remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars are evident of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.
Lebanon first appeared in recorded history around 3,000 BC, with the settlement of the area by the Canaanites. The Canaanites established great maritime, trade and religious city-states in several of Lebanon's coastal cities: Jbail (Byblos), Sour (Tyre), Saida (Sidon), and Beirut. The Greeks referred to these Semitic people as Phoenicians, after the Greek word for the expensive purple-dyed textiles that the Phoenicians exported.
. Jbail (Byblos) was a significant Phoenician religious center and also an important trading center with close links to the Egyptian Pharaohs. The city is also recognized as the birthplace of the modern Roman alphabet, which evolved from Phoenician phonetic script.
. Saida (Sidon) became a dominant commercial center for the region during the 12th - 10th centuries B.C. Close to Saida (Sidon), visitors can view the ruins of the Phoenicians Temple of Echmoun, a complex honoring the principal god of the city of Saida (Sidon). This is the best preserved Phoenician site in Lebanon today.
. The Phoenician island city of Sour (Tyre) surpassed Saida to become the dominant trading center under its most famous ruler, king Hiram I (10th century B.C.) Allied with Solomon, king Hiram I led the Phoenician expansion into Silicy and North Africa. During this time, the Mediterranean Sea became known as the "Tyrian Sea." King Hiram is also remembered for supporting the construction of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem by supplying labor, gold, and cedar wood. While there are few evident Phoenician ruins in Sour (Tyre) today, visitors can see the jetties and breakwaters from the ancient island cities just off the coast of the city.
Baalbeck was an island city, at the crossroads of the major north-south and east-west routes, settled by the Phoenicians as early as 2,000 B.C. The Phoenicians built the first temple here, dedicated to the god Baal, the Sun God, from which the city got its name. Today, Baalbeck's Phoenician origins have been covered and eclipsed by the great Roman temples later built on the site.
In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the Phoenician city-states, and ancient Phoenicia was absorbed into the Greek Empire (which covered Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East). Greek customs and the Greel language were adoptes. Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C. (only ten years after his conquest of the Middle East), and over 250 years of ubrest and dynastic struggles followed. Greek rule in the region was finally overturned by the Roman General Pompey in 64 B.C.
While there are no significant ruins from the Hellenistic period in Lebanon, one notable Greek site for Alexander used the debris from the abondoned mainland city to build a causeway to reach the fortified island city and eventually conquer the Tyrians. Today, this causeway has been enlarged with sand to form a peninsula that connects the ancient island city to the mainland. As you walk between the major archaeological sites in Sour (Tyre), you will cross this "Quarter of Sand" (Hay el Ramel) that was once Alexander's causeway.
Roman rule in Lebanon lasted over 300 years. During this period, the old Phoenician cities continued to grow and prosper as centres of industry and commerce. The costal cities ( Saida, Sour, Beirut ) exported cedar, perfume, jewelry, wine, and fruit to Rome and served as a trading centers for goods imported from Syria, Persia, and India.  Local industries, including the production of silk, glass, purple-dyed textiles and pottery, flourished under the Romans. Temples and palaces were built throughout the country, as well as paved roads that linked the cities. Christianity also spread to Lebanon during this era, and flourished as the Roman emperors officially adopted the religion.
For a modern-day visitor, it is difficult to travel more than a few kilometers in Lebanon without runnibg into a Roman-era ruin. The country is home to some of the best-preserved and most impressive Roman sites in the world, most notably at Baalbeck and Sour (Tyre).
. Baalbeck's impressive complex of temples and city ruins includes the Temple of Bacchus (the best preserved temple in the Middle East) and the columns of the Temple of Jupiter (the largest Roman temple ever constructed). Under the Romans, Baalbeck or the "City of the Sun," was a major religious center that served as a testament to the power and wealth of the Roman Empire.
. The city of Sour (Tyre) became the capital of the Roman province of Syria-Phoenicia. Roman era highlights include the world's largest Roman hippodrom (where chariot races were held), an extensive necropolis, and the remains of Roman aqueduct.
. In Jbail (Byblos) artifacts include the remains of a Roman theater, columns lining the main thoroughfare of the ancient city, and a Roman nympheneum (a monumental public fountain).
. In the Central Business District of Beirut visitors can view the remains of a large Roman bath complex and a market area, as well as the columns and foundations of large buildings.

The Byzantine era in Lebanon bagan with the split of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. into the eastern / Byzantine part (with its capital at Constantinople) and the western part (with its capital at Rome).
As the Western Roman Empire declined, the Byzantine Empire grew and commercial and intellectual growth in Lebanon's cities continued.
However, around the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., ecumenical debates and corruption in the church led to increasing unrest. From this religious dissension, the Maronite Church was established and took refuge in the mountainous Qadissha Valley region of Lebanon, and the Valley has remained a place of spiritual refuge and pilgrimage to this day. There are many archaeological remains of Lebanon's Byzantine era around the country. many built on top of and added to previous civilizations' cities and sites.
. In Baalbeck, Byzantine Emperor Theodosius tore down the altars of the Temple of Jupiter and built a basilica using the temple's stories and architecural elements. The remnants of this basilica can still be seen near the stairway of the Temple.
- In Sour (Tyre), the city entered a golden era during this period. Today, Byzantine stone mosaics line the ancient colonnaded street at the Al-Mina archaeological site. The Al Bass Site contains the remains of a Byzantine church, as well as a necropolis containing hundreds of ornate stone and marble sarcophagi from the Roman and Byzantine periods.

The increasing unrest in the Byzantine Empire opened the region to raids and conquests by Muslim Arans from the Arabian Peninsula. Following the death of the Prophet Muhammed, his successors built a large army that pushed back the Byzantine forces and undertook a series of successful invasions throughout the region.
The Ummayyad Dynasty, which flourished for 100 years (660 - 750 A.D.) in the first century after Muhammed, was the first of two dynasties of the Arab Islamic Empire. The Ummayad caliphs were notable for establishing a large empire, which extended from Spain, through North Africa to Central Asia. They established Arabic as the official language of the empire, and they are remembering for their excellent city administration and planning and their patronage of early Islamic art and architecture.  Following a coup, the Ummayads were replaced by the Abbasid Dynasty (750 - 1258 A.D.), who shifted power eastward to Baghdad and imposed harsh control in Lebanon and Syria, leading to many local revolts.

Under Arab rule, the region of Lebanon bacame a refuge  for many ethnic and religious groups. Splinter Christian groups, including the Maronites and the Melchites, settled in the Qadisha Valley and Zahle. Islamic followers of an Egyptian caliph settled in southern Lebanon and established the Druze sect, still a major religious group in the Chouf and other areas of modern day Lebanon. Shiite Muslims from Egypt also had increasing  influence in the region during this era.

Lebanon's cities continue to prosper as trading and industrial centers under Arab rule. However, there are few archaeological remnants of this period in Lebanon today.
. The impressive city of Anjar is the only known remain of the 8th century Ummayad Dynasty in  Lebanon.
Thought to be the summer home of Caliph Walid I, Anjar was a major commercial center for the region and contains the remains of over 600 small shops, colonnaded boulevards, baths, and temples.

As Arab leadership fragmented, and following Caliph Al-Hakim's occupation of Christian holy places in Palestine and destruction of the Holy Sepulcher, the Christians of western Europe undertook a series of "Crusades" to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. The European Crusaders joined with the Byzantine army to take Jerusalem and then marched along the Lebanese coast. Between 1109 and 1124, Lebanon's key cities (Tripoli, Beirut, Saida, Sour) were all conquered by the Crusaders. Soon after the Muslim reconquest began, led by Saladin, with the region returning to Muslim control by 1291.

One lasting influence of the Crusades in Lebanon was the creation of renewed linkages between the Maronites and the Roman Catholics. In 1180, the Maronite Church entered a formal union with the Roman Catholic Church, a union that still exists today. There are also numerous archaeological remanants (towers, castles, and churches) of the Crusades scattered along the Lebanese coast and throughtout the coutryside.
Notable sites includes:
. The Saida Sea Castle, which sits on a small island in the harbor, connected by a stone bridge to maintained Saida (Sidon).
. The Citadel of St Gilles, a large fortress on a hill in the center of Tripoli
. The ruins of the stone walls and moats of a Crusader castle can be seen in the town of Enfe, south of Tripoli.
. The ruins of the Holy Cross Cathedral, an important Crusader church in Tyre

Following the Crusades, modern-day Lebanon, Syria and Egypt came under the control of the Mamlukes. The Mamlukes were originally slave bodyguards (from the Caspina and Caucasus) for the Egyptian Ayoubid sultans. However, the Mamlukes overthrew their masters and formed the Mamluke Sultanate. Many Shiite Muslims migrated to Lebanon during this period, and there were increasing religious tensions. After a number of rebellions near Beirut were crushed, the Shiites moved to settle in Southern Lebanon.
The Mamlukes were defeated by the Turkish Ottomans in 1516, and the Ottomans dominated the region for the four centuries preceding World War 1.

Religious Heritage

Lebanon is an ancient land that has been at the heart or the growth of two of the world's major religions, Christianity and Islam. For centuries, diverse religious traditions have shared this land, creating a rich mosaic of religious beliefs and a unique multicultural society.
Many times throughout its history, Lebanon has served as a place of refuge and spiritual retreat, and the modern religious pilgrim will discover this sense of sanctuary in the beauty of the country's holy places and natural terrain.
Whatever your own spiritual background, a pilgrimage to Lebanon will allow you to experience a fascinating meld of reilgious heritage and traditions.

Christian Heritage 
Lebanon's Christian heritage can be traced back to the Old Testament. The famed Cedars of Lebanon are referred to numerous times in the Bible as symbols of beauty and strengh. Moreover, Lebanese cedar wood was sent to Jerusalem for the construction of Solomon's Temple. Jesus and his disciples preached in the cities of Sour (Tyre) and Saida (Sidon), and Christianity was brought to Lebanon by the apostle St. Peter.
Lebanon is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible, and there are ancient Christian sites of interest scattered throughout the country. For example, the village of Qana, where it is believed Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine, is located in South Lebanon. In addition to the many biblical sites in the south, the Qadisha Valley (Holy Valley), the seat of the Maronite Church, offers a wealth of hidden, rock-cut monasteries, grottoes, and sacred sites waiting to be explored. Visit the ancient ruins of Sour (Tyre), Baalbek or other sites to discover traces of Lebanon's Byzantine/Orthodox heritage.

- Our Lady of Beshwat (Saydet Beshwat)
Getting there: 105 km from Beirut and just 20 km northwest of Baalbek, between Deir el Ahmar and Barqa.
The village of Beshwat is at the center of all pilgrimage sites, visited by tens of thousands of believers every year. In 1880 thepeople of Beshwat wanted a special statue dedicated to the Virgin Mary. AJesuit priest was able to construct a copy of Our Lady of Pontmain in her golden crown and have been cured with prayer at the site. The Virgin has also appeared to a boy named Mohammed, telling him not to be afraid. He later claimed that he witnessed the statue move. Today Saydit Beswat is a popular pilgrimage site for people from all faiths around the world.
Out and Beyond: Oyoun Orghosh is a must. The springs are replenished by melting snow from the peaks of Jabal al Mekmel and Qornet al Sawda. They form a small natural lake surrounded with a number of cafes.

- Our Lady of Mantara (Saydet Al Mantara)
Getting there: Maghdouche 50 km south of Beirut and 8 km southeast of Sidon.
The "water into wine" miracle in Qana is well known. Less known is the cave above Sidon, where the Virgin Mary rested as Jesus preached in the city below. A shrine and a church mark the spot of the sdacred cave. The remains of a shrine to the goddess Astarte (once worshiped by the Phoenicians) can also be found. On a neighboring hilltop is where Jesus and Mary once stood.
Sidon has an ancient port, sae castle and labyrinth like souks. The beautifully restored Soap Museum is a must, as is the last Phoenician glassblowers in nearby Sarafand.

- Qadisha Valley
Getting there: head north to Chikka (20 km south of Tripoli), turn right and head into the mountains Qadisha or the Holy Valley is a UNESCO  listed world heritage site. You could literally spend here discovering the scattering of cave chapels, hermitages and monasteries that have been cut from rock, where generations of monks, hermits, ascetics and anchorites found asylum.
Out and About: visit the Qannoubin Monastery on the northeast side of the Qadisha Valley. Said to be the oldest of the Maronite monasteries, its foundation is often attributed to the Emperor Theodosius the Great in 375 AD. Cut into the rock cliff side, there are monastic cells, church, cloister, and accommodation for travelers.

Islamic Heritage
Lebanon's Muslim heritage can be traced to  the 7th century A.D., when Islam was introduced to the region by conquering Muslim armies from the Arabian Peninsula.The two major Muslims dynasties following the prophet Muhammed, the Ummayads and the Abbasids, ushered in a rich period of Islamic art, learning, and culture, and tradition continues to flourish today.
The ancient trading city of Anjar is the best example of the flourishing 8th century Islamic civilisation under the Umayyads. Or, visit Tripoli which has many ancient mosques and madrasa, to explore Lebanon's vibrant Islamic culture.
There are numerous mosques and spiritual places from Sunni, Shiite, and Druze Muslim traditions throuoghout the country. A visit to the great medieval mosques in Beirut, Tripoli, or Saida can give a taste of long Islamic tradition of the country.

Cuisine and Wine
With an outstanding reputation for its food and wine, a traditional dining experience in Lebanon will soon turn newcomers into lifelong devotees. The appeal of Lebanese food likely comes from the uses of a variety of fresh fruits, nuts, cheese, yogurt, and freshly baked pitas in conbination with hearty and flavorful meal (lamb, chicken, beef, fish) and vegetable dishes. The Mediterranean influence on the cooking is very strong.

Lebanese hors d'oeuvres, or mezzes, are the savory beginning to a traditional meal and typically include hummus (puree garbanzo bean dip), baba ghanoush (puree of eggplant), tabbouleh (parsley and cracked wheat salad), stuffed grape leaves, fatayer (triangular pastries stuffed with meat or spinach), and lebneh (yogurt dip with garlic). Hot pita bread, small bowis of olive oil, and herbs accompany these dips and salads.

Main Dishes
Main dishes follow and could include any or all of the following: kibbeh (minced lamb, bulgur wheat, onions, pine nuts prepared in different ways ), half of a chicken with rice, grilled chicken or lamb on skewers, or fish served with tahini sauce.

Platters of fresh fruit and bowls of roasted pistachios or almonds cleanse the palate. Desserts are traditionally sweetened with honey, jam, dried fruits, or molasses, such as baklava (a phyllo dough pastry layered with honey or molasses and crushed pistachios) and maaamoul (crunchy biscuits stuffed with nuts or dates).

Of course, no meal is complete without the national drink, arak. Arak is an anise-flavored liquor similar to Pastis (the French version), Sambuca (the Italian version), or Ouzo (the Greek version). It is drunk as an aperitif or with mezzes and main dishes. 

Lebanon's great food culture is thought to be a major contributor to the success of its wine. After all, excellent wine is best complemented with suitably inspiring food. Although inhabitants of modern-day Lebanon have produced wine for over 4,000 years, the best decade has witnessed a rebirth in the wine's reputation, with praise from British, French, and other European importers. Compared to other wine producing countries, Lebanon production is very modest - 6 million bottles annually. Nevertheless, exports have doubled over the past decade, and Lebanon currently exports 40 percent of the wine it produces.
Wineries are primarily found in the Bekaa Valley, where arid and sunny days and cool evenings create the perfect vineyard climate. Three big names in Lebanese wine are Chateau Ksara Kefraya and Musar. They all produce wines that won international acclaim in the wine press and in various competitions and events.
Ksara is the oldest winery, founded in 1857 by Jesuit priests who brought vines from Europe. Kefraya is the largest winery, with vineyards that are 50 years old and a winery that is only 20 years o;d. Musar is located in an 18th century castle 15 miles outside of Beirut, but its grapes come from Musar vineyards in the Bekaa Valley.
Other wineries include Chateau Faqra (Mount Lebanon), Clos St Thomas (Bekaa), Massaya (Bekaa), Nakad (Bekaa), and Domaine Wardy (Bekaa).
Increasingly, Lebanese wineries are marketing themselves to tourists with guided tours of the wineries and vineyards, dinners, wine tasting and special evening and weekend events.

 Traditional crafts
Traditional Lebanese crafts are distinguished by two contrasting yet complementary strands - ancient techniques that date back to the Phoenician times and the Lebanese eye for design, which has kept these products fresh and innovative throughout the ages.
Lebanon now boasts an eclectic blend of traditional handcrafts, including hammered metal trays with arabesque design, cutlery with handles made from animal horn, engraved wooden boxes and furniture, jewelry, pure olive oil soaps, pottery, copperware, textiles, linens, and many other items.
Different regions of Lebanon are known for their unique contribution and preservation of traditional crafts and local arts. So, you should be sure to inquire about the local from all over the country at private artisanat shops, such as L'Artisan du Liban (on Rue Clemenceau near the Gefinor Center) and at the Ministry of Culture hosted shop, La Maison de l'Artisan (at the eastern end of the Corniche in Ain el Mraisse). Definitely explore the souks in Sour and Tripoli and inquire about specialty shops wherever you go on your journey through Lebanon.

Olive oil soap, the traditional soap of Lebanon, is gaining worlwide popularity for its purity and natural moisturizing qualities. Traditionally made with oil originating from each family's own olive trees, the soap is imprinted with the family name in Arabic or with other synbols, suggesting the quality of the olive oil used, the soap maker's skill, or secret recipe. The area of Lebanon famous for oilive oil soap production include Koura, Hasbaya, Saida, and the Chouf. However, olive oil soap can be purchased in small stores or souks all over the country.
According to Lebanese tradition, olive oil soap is a cure all for countless aliments from balding to dandruff to eczema.
A specialty Lebanese soap is produced in Tripoli typically made from a mixture of vegetable oils, using methods inspired by the North Midlle Eastern soap making tradition. The tripoli soap workshops are also widely known for their message and spa oils used in the old Turkish style hammams.

Sea Selt
Salt harvesting from the Mediterranean Sea is an ancient tradition in many coastal Lebanese cities. Among them, none is better known than North Lebanon village of Enfe as a historical and current site for salt production. The highest quality salt, fleur du sel, is produced seasonally - it is rare product of limited quantity that is highly recommended for cooking. Lebanese sea salt is also used in the bath for its benefits to the skin and body. Salts are often scented with special oils for use in spa treatments or in fragrance sachets for use in wardrobe and closets.

A good representative of Lebanon's pottery heritage can be found in Assia. The beauty of Assia's trademark hand molded bowl in its humility, simplicity, and connection to village traditions. Each bowl is molded to perfection over many days and baked in small, backyard wood ovens. The only glaze used is olive oil, applied when a bowl is used for cooking. The bowls are perfect for grilling cheese, frying eggs, or serving other sizzling foods, and they are widely used in Lebanese homes.
Unique pottery can also be found in Rachaya El Foukhar, a southern village widely known among traders through the millenia for its fine pottery. Its most representative object  is the traditional water jar, or ibrik, also known in Spain as as the "Phoenician wine jar". The jar's typical features include natural baked colors and traditional spiral designs that symbolize holy water and good fortunes.

Blown Glasses
Lebanon's colorful blown-glass decanters, water carafes, and glasses date back to Phoenician times, examples of which have been excavated from old coastal cities and are displayed at the National Museum. The skill of Phoenician glass blowers was said to rival that of Venetian craftsmen. One of the villages most famous for this craft is Sarafand where blown glass is made from recycled materials and available in blue, green, brown, and transparent colors. Nowadays, new colors can be made by blending traditional with modern techniques, and customized shapes and sizes can be made according to specific designs.

Tableware and cutlery
Hammered brass and copper trays are a fixture in Lebanon, seen everywhere from the old souks to trendy cafes to the siting rooms of the finest homes. These trays and its sophisticated art of entertaining. The ornate trays of varying shapes and sizes are hammered by skilled copper and brass smiths with engraved arabesque borders. Copper and silver tableware from the village of Qalamoun is particulary famous for its oriental style, with hand hammered patterns and calligraphy decorations.
The most well known cutlery in Lebanon originates from the town of Jezzine, in South Lebanon. Jezzine's trademark ebony and bone handled cutlery is typically inlaid with mother of pearl, gold, silver and other precious metals. Sometimes the handles are carved in the shape of a firebird and vibrantly painted. The cutlery is so well regarded that it has been presented to dignitaries all over the world, a tradition that began in the 18th century with a gift of Jezzine cutlery to Sultanate of Oman.

Lebanon's traditional hand woven textiles are distinguished by their simple, geometric patterns and symbols that are inspired by nature. Textile weaving was disapearing in Lebanon until a recent movement to mobilize and empower rural women to take up this craft once again and build their livelihood onit. Supported by community organizations, women's cooperatives were set up to revive this heritage, which in turn revives the traditional lifestyle of herders and sheperds who supply the raw materials to the weavers. Fine examples of Lebanese textiles can be found in Aarsal, where naturally died kilim is made from lamb and goat wool, and in Fekehe, where carpets are made from natural wool dyed in several colors.

Wood Carving
Lebanese artisans craft beautiful products with wood from the olive tree, known for its long life beautiful natural grain. Woodworkers carve intricately designed boxes and furniture and inlay them with mother of pearl or small pieces of darker or lighter wood. Worry beads and water jars are popular products practical souvenirs that convey blessings from the old mountains of Lebanon.

Grass Weaving
Grass weaving is a long-standing rural tradition born out of the necessary of using local materials to create objects for practical everyday use. Grass weaving is still practiced in various regions of Lebanon to make products of many shapes and sizes. In recent years, a movement is gaining strength in Lebanon to revive ancient weaving techniques that connect contemporary creations to Lebanese roots. In Amchit, a workshop is reviving a very old palm leaves weaving techniques to produce exquisite furniture pieces for the fashionable set. In Akkar, an old tribe is still weaving locally planted grasses, while in other villages baskets are woven from local bamboo or oud. Other popular Lebanese woven products include woven reeds and palm leaf baskets, hats, and mats.

Friendly embroidered table linens and bed linens are another hallmark of Lebanon's cultural heritage. Needlework is a domestic craft that has been passed down by women generation to generation, perfected over months and years of cold winters living in the mountain villages of Lebanon. In some villages, it is the tradition for young women to finish their own covers as a sign of being ready for marriage. Competitions are held to reward and recognize women for the best needlepoint inventions, combinations are also incorporated into home decor with items such as cushions and wall hangings, or are worn as fashion pieces such as clothing, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories.

Explore Nature and Adventure in Lebanon
The blue sky and warm waters of the Mediterranean, the fresh air and rugged mountain peaks, and the pleasant chill of snowmelt fed rivers make Lebanon a perect destination for those who enjoy nature and the outdoors. From a leisurely afternoon of snorkeling or diving on the coast to a multiple-day trek through ancient cedar forests and mountains, the compactness of the country makes it possible to explore much of Lebanon's natural beauty and the cultural diversity in a single trip.
In this country of rich biodiversity, nature-lovers will enjoy watching endangered loggerhead and green turtles come to shore for breeding along the southern voast or going on guided nature walks in the north in search of tiny orchids, medicinal plants and colorful wildflowers.
With a rich variety of terrain, adventure lovers will find any outdoor sport under the sun. In summer, many seaside and mountain resorts offer the perennial favorites, such as swimming, water skiing, tennis, golf, and parasailing. Diving and snorkelling are also very popular. You can explore Roman and Phoenician ruins off the coast of Saida, Byblos or Tyre or the wreckages of a World War II submarine at Khalde south of Beirut.
In addition, ecolodges, clubs, and small outfitters offer mountain biking, guided hikes, rock climbing, rafting, archery, orienteering, and camps or other multi-day outdoor excursions throughout the year. In the winter, you can add downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-crountry skiing across Lebanon's snow-capped mountains to the list of outdoor activities.
For those seeking serious adventure and adrenaline, why not explore Lebanon from the air by paragliding or rock climbing to the more inaccessible rock cut sanctuaries and hermitages hanging prcipitously from steep mountain cliffs? Caving in Lebanon is another unique experience. Considered one of the most beautiful caves in the world, the Jeita Grotto was discovered a hundred years ago. The cave is open to the public year round. For exploration of Lebanon's other more remote caves, many clubs and small outfitters offer tours with experienced guides and all equipment provided.

Agriculture and rural heritage
A rural tour of Lebanon begins on the subtropical coast, ripe with citrus and banana trees. From there, make your way up the Mount Lebanon range, passing characteristically, Mediterranean fig and olive trees, growing on rocky, terraced mountain slopes since Biblical times. You can also pick apples, peaches, and pears right off the trees in late summer and early fall.
Further up, you will reach the snowy peaks interspersed with cedar and juniper trees. Passing over the mountains, you will descend into the valley of the Bekaa where the dry air and bright sun nurture the famous vineyards, producing highly praised grapes and wine since ancient times.
In the villages scattered throughout the countryside, the Lebanese people still retain many of their old traditions and customs. Although much of the Lebanese population lives and works in Beirut, most familles have a home village where they spend their weekends and summers.
One of the delights of Lebanon's rural villages is the traditional arts and crafts of Lebanese artisans. Whether it is pottery, blown glass, cutlery, woven cloth, traditional music instuments, inlaid and carved wood, olive oil soap, or gold and silver jewelry, you are sure to find superbly executed handicrafts, pefect as souvenirs.
Visit with a local family at a small inn or bed and breakfast in a traditional, red-roofed mountain town, and sampl the pleasures of home cooked Lebanese cuisine, and gain a deeper understanding of the rich culture and history that rural Lebanon has to offer.

Beaches and Seaside
With 225 km of Mediterranean coastline extending the entire length of the country from north to south you'll find plenty of sun and sand in Lebanon. Beach season in Lebanon stretches from April to October with sunny dry weather and warm temperatures ( 20 - 32 C / 68 - 90 F ) for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
However, even in the winter season you will find plenty of activities to take advantages of along Lebanon's sceninc shore.
 The coastline in Lebanon alternates from sandy to rocky beaches offering an interesting variety of terrain and seaside activities. Along the coast north of Beirut, the mountains descent sharply to the Mediterranean sea offering spectacular vistas of rocky coastline and colorful sunsets over the water. In the south, fragrant and colorful citrus groves and banana trees line the coast, giving way to some of the country's best preserved and remote sandy beaches.
Lebanon's coastline is not just for sun worshippers. Nature enthusiasts can explore the unique Mediterranean ecosystem at the Palm Islands Reserve locared 5 km off the coast near Tripoli.  The reserve is a prime location for observing Lebanon's coastal flora and fauna., including sea turtles, seals, and over 300 species of migratory birds. The well preserved beaches at the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve are also known  for their rich marine and freshwater habitats.
Adventure enthusiasths will find diving, waterskiing,  sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, paragliding, and much more along Lebanon's coast. Snorkelers can explore the magnificient submerged Phoenician and Roman ruins off the coast of the city of Tyre.
Traditional beach enthusiasts have several options to choose from in Lebanon. For those seeking full amenities and comfort, luxury resorts and beach clubs offer private beach access, swimming pools, water skiing, diving, boat rentals, nighttime entertainment, restaurants, and accomodations. Good inexpensive public beaches with clean water and basic facilities are located in Byblos, Chekka, Batroun and south of Tyre.

With the rising temperatures, there's a completely different perspective to life across the summer months in Lebanon, as the city empties out and Beirutis migrate to the coast. With a coastal strip that stretches the 225 km length of country, the beach is never far out of reach and yet everyone has their favorite beach spot to recline in the sum, enjoy fresh seafood and the glistening Mediterranen until the sun sets.

For those not wanting to spend the morning sat in traffic with the mass exodus of city dwellers to the coast., the Beirut beach provides a day in the sun without the hassle..Where much of the Lebanese coastline is eaten up with pricey private beach clubs, Beirut's public stretch of beach, Ramlet al Baida, located south of the Corniche just beyond the famous Pigeon Rocks, is a must see, It's a tad scruffy, but full of character. with visitors from all walks of life. Families gather for a picnic and narguileh (water pipe) with a sea view, couples stroll along the wave's break an children play football, making it perfect for people watching. We can't vouch four the cleanliness of the sea her though, instead settle in with a book on the sand against an iconic backdrop, lined with legendary '60s buildings a memory to Raouche's once grand past.
If escapism is what you're after, La Plage, (01 366222, Ain El Mreisseh, Corniche Facebook: La Plage Beirut) has it all on offer.The polar opposite of its scruffy neighbor, Ramlet al Baida, this private beach club and restaurant is where Beirut's young, glossy socialite crowd hang out. At La Plage luxury is the name of the game: cushioned beach beds and attentive waiters will have you pampered in no time. And dining on the pier from the extensive menu is the cherry on top. Close by is the sun lover's paradise, Sporting Club Beach 
(01 742481, Manara, Beirut) which remains almost un-changed since opening back in the '60s. Its concrete minimalism gives it a retro charm and the area around its three pools gets packed out with a down to earth family oriented crowd during holiday season.After the sun sets,  Beirut hipsters flock to see international DJs at the now renowned party, Decks on the beach, St Georges Yacht Club (03 958379, Ain Mreisseh, Beirut) offers a day in the sun within walking distance from Beirut's  Central District. Dubbed Beirut "Beirut playground  since the 1930s," it is an icon part of Beirut's heritage and its name is still synonymous with a time when Beirut was an essential holiday stop for Hollywood film stars.

Veer Boutique Hotel and Resort (09 222623 ) located in Zouk Mikael, Kaslik is a must visit. Set upon a beautiful stretch of coastline its contemporary design offers luxury to the extreme, luxury accommodation with a sea view including a boutique hotel beach rooms,  villas and four underwater bungalows. The lagoon by night is simply stunning. Beach club Praia ( 09 221216, 03 806806 Facebook: Praia resort, Zouk Mosbeh Sea Road ) only a short drive from Beirut is unique in its design. Run by CincoLounge and Le Mailllon Group, expect the beach party vibe, with a crowd catching some sum between rooftop bar hopping.A bar divides the pool in two ensuring the drinks keep flowing. Through many public beaches in Lebanon are not well maintained. Jbeil Public Beach just north of the port, is a reliable choice. The curved bay with pristine white sand is full of life throughout the summer. Here is where you can get to the true essence of beach life. If you don't  feel like bringing food a few humble cafes serve up basic food.
Along the way to the North look out for hidden coves, which dot the coast. South of Byblos, in the sleepy coastal town, Fidar, is one of the country's best kept secrets' a small unspoiled tranquil pebble cove, hidden behind holiday apartment buildings. Locals though, are obviously in the know so get there early to find the best spot. Family run restaurant, Stellamar (09 478203) that looks down on the cove, serves up delicious Lebanese mezze, along with the perfect homemade arak accompaniment 2 km South of Batroun is Jolning 
(03 517492, Kfar Abida), a small but popular cafe with the perfect location. A clean public beach formed from hefty rocks that provide a direct platform into the sea, is recommended with jetty shoes or else getting in and and out can be precarious. The rocky seascape makes for interesting sea exploration and dramatic rocks provide a spot for adventurous youngsters to jump with caution. Jolning serves coffee all day long as well as delicious fish for lunch and dinner.
Just before Batroun, one of the oldest cities in the world, lies a strip of some of the most picturesque beaches in Lebanon. Pierre & Freinds (03 352930 Facebook: Pierre-Friends) attracts the cool Beirut crowd who come for the seafood but stay for the drinks. Despite the party atmosphere the music is not overwhelming and the beach still maintains a laid back mood. On the same strip is Bonita Bay (06 744844 ) a more refined experience of tranquility for those wanting seafood in finer setting. A short walk down is White Beach ( 06 742404  Facebook: White Beach Lebanon ), popular with a more down to earth crowd and families. First set up in the late 80s, it has a solid menu of fresh seafood and Lebanese mezze - don't miss the Lebanese sushi, and the story behind it from the friendly owner.
Follow the coastal road all the way to Tripoli for a trip to the stunning Palm Islands Nature Reserve. Located 5.5km Northwest of Tripoli, the three islands were declared a protected site by UNESCO in '92 and made into a nature reserve the following year. The islands are home to endangered loggerhead turtles, rabbits, rare monk seals and hundreds of species of migratory birds. An oil spill in 2006 had a catastrophic effect on the island's habitat and recovery efforts ate still being made to help the return of its finely balanced eco system. The islands are best seen during July-September. You can pick up a free permit from Tripoli's tourist office and negotiate a price to  get there from one of many boat owners along Al  Mina Port.

Not far from Beirut, the beaches of Jiyeh offer a strectcc of unspoiled sands. Jonas Beach ( 07 995000, ) was the first beach to open in the area, back in '83 and it remains the most charming . Circular yellow and green umbrellas that dot the beach give jonas a distinct retro feel, and the beach stretches on for what seems like forever. A snack bar offers basic fast food and there's also a  full menu of simple homemade Lebanese cuisine. Many sports activities are on offer from volleyball and canoeing, and there is a children's play area. On the same strip ,but a world away, is Orchid ( 07 996303 ), a stunning white luxury beach club, with colorful flowers spilling over the stone walls. The pools area, lined with beach beds, is impressive enough, but if you're really looking to splash out you can rent a private Royal Hut  LBP600,000) which comes complete with a private terrace, bathroom and Jacuzzi. If you're not quite relaxed enough, a massage in the in house Body & Soul Spa should do the trick.

You've not completed the Jiyeh experience until you've spent a day at Beirut favorite, Lazy B ( 70 950010 ). This relaxing beach club set in the midst of a green landscape, offers something for everybody. There are three freshwater pools. including one for kids, three natural swimming pools, a children's playground  with organized activities and an opening onto a huge stretch of golden beach. Highlights include an Italian and Lebanese restaurtant, four poster beds for horizontal reclining and of course, the absence of music. On the same strip of Jiyeh of beach club, Bamboo Bay ( 03 513888 ) which has a tropical feel.

Scylax Escape (info 03 073111) is a highly anticipated new resort in Jiyeh, set to open in early July. Its unique design, by Jean Bou Doumit. has a respect to the surrounding landscape and as such its white lounging areas. accommodation [ including bugs, chalets and beach huts complete with private Jacuzzis - is set upon grassy banks. With a large infinity pool and a Plain D'eau area with eight Jacuzzis you won't want to leave when the sun goes down.

It might be a long 84 km drive from Beirut to Tyre, but it's certainly worth the effort. South of the city is the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve, a 7.7 sq km stunning stretch of white sands that are among the cleanest in Lebanon. The reserve is a nesting site for rare migratory birds and sea turtles and fresh springs that flow into the sea also make for varied flow into the sea also makes for varied sea life biodiversity. The beach shacks along this stretch of public beach are simple to the extreme and basic plastic tables and chairs and umbrellas form unpretentious restaurants. Cloud 59 (03 517996) is one of the best, a simple shack that plays the perfect chilled soundtrack and attracts a crowd of devoted regulars from Beirut who make it their week end hangout. Seafood and Lebanese mezze here is cheap and you can enjoy beers in the shaded baroque beach club or at the sea's edge.

If you're looking for a unique experience, away from the crowds, Orange House (07 320063 ) is at the southern most tip of the Lebanese coastline and makes for a picturesque weekend retreat. Run by environmentalist Mona Khalil this homely B&B has a family feel and is the base for her activitties helping to preserve the nesting site of the endangered turtles that come to the shore during nesting season to lay their eggs. With only three guest rooms its advisable to book a few weeks in advance. Foreigners will need a permit to pass the checkpoint just before the B&B, which can be obtained from Sidon's army headquarters.  You can get involved in the turtle conservation project while staying at the Orange House, or kick back and enjoy one of Lebanon's wildest and most beautiful beaches.

Reaching the beach by sea
We all know summer traffic to the beach can be painful, so why not instead kick back and relax and travel the coast via sea? Luxury Yachts & Cruises offers a variety of daily tours with unparalleled views of the coastline framed by the mountains. while cruising 100 m from the shore. You can swim in crystal clear water  out at sea when the boat docks, try your hand at water sports such as banana boating and jet skiing and get a view of the impressive private villas that line the coast. They have four tours on offer including Beirut By Sea, Jounieh Bay, Bybl0s City, and Aamchit. Harbor that all include lunch. There's certainly nothing like arriving by boat. Go with a big group for cheaper cost per person, 01 880122 

Bird Watching
Lebanon is an important stopping off point for migratory birds along African Eurasian migration paths, creating a wealth of bird watching opportunities, especially during the spring and fall. The peak bird watching seasons are mid September through mid October and early March to mid April.
Due to Lebanon's diverse landscape, bird watchers are rewarded with a wide vatriety of species (over 300), including the rare chance to see magnificient bu5t threatened birds such as the Imperial Eagle and Sociable Lapwing. In addition, there are pl;entiful opportunities to see morer common birds as raptors, harriers, water birds, and others, like the Syrian Serin and the Palestinian Songbird.
There are three key areas for bird wathchers to visit. The coastal reserves, including the Palm Islands Nature Reserve and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve , are home to numerous sea and water birds. The mountains, with sites such as the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve and the Al Shouf Cedar Reserve, are known for eagles, vultures, and quails. Further inland, the marshes and plains of the Bekaa Valley, such as the Ammiq Wetland, also offer plentiful bird watching opportunities. The southern village of Ibl Esaqi is also home to a small bird sanctuary.
Trained guides are available in the nature reserves, and ecotour operators run bird watching hikes and treks through many of these beautiful areas.

More and more camping options are emerging in Lebanon, and many existing sites are simply spectacular.Campers can set up their tents overlooking the north of Byblos and walk down from their site to the Mediterranean for a swimm and some snorkeling. Alternatively, campers can retire in Adonis Valley, home of the legendary frolicking of Adonis and Aphrodite of Greek mythology.
Lebanon offers numerous campsites and ecolodges that have fully supported facilities catering to groups and families. These include platform tents or bungalows style lodging, meals, and organized recreational activities such as hikes and mountain bike rides.
For those looking for a more remote nature experience, backcountry camping is allowed on any public land that is not in a National Reserve or Protected Area. In these areas, camping is often part of an organized, guided excursions led by one of the country's many ecotour  operators. Camping can be a base from which to launch daytrips to nearby towns and historic attractions, for hikes in surrounding natureal areas, or simply as a quiet respite from the bustle of Beirut city life.

A mountainous and rocky country composed primary of limestone, Lebanon offers exciting opportunities for caving. Over 400 caves, caverns, and sinkholes are scattered throughout the country, offering something for everyone, from the expert spelunker to the casual tourist.
Most caves are concentrated in the Mount Lebanon region, stretching from north to south in the center of the country. The most popular and touristy of caves include the Jeita Grotto, with its huge caverns and underground lakes, and the enormous and intricate Afqa Grotto, source of the Adonis River where legend has it Adonis and Aphrodite exchanged their first kiss.
For the more adventurous tourists and experienced spelunkers, there are many other caving options that require guides and equipment. The Roueiss Grotto, for example, is a 5km long labyrinthine cave with an underground lake, large halls, unique crystaline formations.
Lebanon is also home to stunning vertical caves - called sinkholes or potholes - that are some of the deepest in the in the Middle East (up to 602 meter). These sinkholes are explored using ropes and climbing equipment, rappelling down into the hole and then climbing back up. Lebanon's largest sinkholes are concentrated in the northern Mount Lebanon region, especially near Laqlouq and Tannourine.

Lebanon's rugged mountains, hills, and valleys, and its, spectacular scenery immersed in history, make for some truly unique mountain biking oportubuies. Cyclists can role up Qornet El Sawda with views of the Bekaa Valley to the east, Syria to the North and the Mediterranean sea to the west. You can also ride through rugged mountainous terrain and Cedar groves in the Horsh Ehden and Al Chouf Cedar Narure Reserve and at the  Cedar ski resort. The high plateaus of the Mount Leabnon range are covered with extensive trail networks. offering technically challenging terrain for seasoned cyclists.
For those looking for more relaxed cycling, the Bekaa Valley and the coastal regions have many oportunities both on amd off road. Many small villages have small shops offering bike rentals for independent on road biking.
Most mountain biking is done with a guided tour, as many mountain trails are not well marked. Several tour operators run guided cycling tours, catering to all levels and include bicycle rental lodging food insurance an experienced guide and transportation to and from the trailhead.

Hiking and Trekking
Varied terrain, scenic vistas, and historic environs combine to create unique hiking and trekking opportunities throughout Lebanon. Popular areas for hikes include the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve near Tripoli, and the Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve, both of which offer good and extensive trail systems. Other areas with spectacular scenery and unique historical and cultural attractions include the Qadisha Valley, Makmel Park, and the remote Akkar region in the North.
For a quinressential Lebanese experience, you can wander through the Adonis Valley, a ruggedly cut gorge sprinkled with historic ruins that is the site of Adonis and Aphrodite's love story in Greek mythology. There are many trekking clubs and tour operators that run guided outings throughout Lebanon, ranging from leisurely day hikes to longer multi day treks.

Mountain Climbing
Lebanon is one of the places in the Middle East to offer a broad range of mountain climbing activities, from relatively easy summit climbs and technical peak ascents, to bouldering and adventure climbing. Limestone mountains, beautiful scenery and easily accessible climbs welcome climbers to Lebanon.
The Akoura, Tannourine, and Laqlouq regions have rock faces rated from 3 to 8 (on the French rating system), many of which are already bolted. There are also many interesting and technically challenging summits for mountaineering including the 2,814 meter Mount Hermon and Mount Makmel, whose northest face is an extremely technical climb.
Very few countries offer such great climbing located near such interesting cultural and historical attractions as Lebanon. For experienced climbers with their own equipment, topographic maps of climbing routes can be obtained from one of the country's ecotour operators. Ecotour operators also organize a variety of guided climbing and mountaineering trips throughout the country, accessible for relatively fit travelers of all skill levels.

Natural Reserves
Lebanon's climate diversity and varied topography have bestowed the country with a unique ecological system that ranges from the subtropical coast to the alpine high mountains of the interior. The country is tich in its biodiversity and in the last decade special attention has been paid to protecting endangered species and conserving their habitats in specific parts of the country. The more than 20 Nature Reserves and Protected Areas are a testament of Lebanon's focus on conservation and sustainable development. Please note that it is illegal to camp in Lebanon's Nature Reserves and Protected Areas.

Al Shouf Cedar Reserve 
The Al Shouf Cedar Reserve, the largest nature reserve in Lebanon, is a mountain ecosystem  at the southern part of Lebanon of the Mount Lebanon range, covering over 5 percent of the country's land areas. Al Shouf is home to six magnificient cedar forests, with the largest concentration of cedar trees remaining in the country. Some trres are over 2,000 years old. The Reserve is also home to 27 species of wild mammals (including wolves, hyenas, wild boars, gazelles, foxes and lynxes),  104 species of birds and and 124 species of plants. The Al Shouf Cedar Reserve is a popular destination for hiking and trekking with trails accessible for all fitness levels, as well as mountain biking and bird watching. From the summit of the rugged mountains, you will find a panoramic view of the countryside, eastward to the Beka Valley and westward toward the Mediterranean. During your visit to the Al Shouf Cedar Reserve carefully observe the magical colors of the Mediterranean shrubs, grasses, and herbs, or simply marvel at the majesty of the cedars and the gallery of distintive flora and fauna that attracts a variety of mammals and migrating birds.

Bentael Reserve
Located in the foothils northeast of Byblos, Bentael Reserve is one of the smallest nature reserves in Lebanon. Bentael pine forests are situated in the flight path of migratory hawks, eagles and other raptors and are especially enjoyed by bird enthusiasts. Founded in 1981, this protected area was bequeathed for the Ministry of Environment by the people of the village of Bentael. It was one of the first parks created in Lebanon and set an example for the need to conserve Lebanon's natural areas.

Horsh Ehden Reserve
Another spectacular mountain reserve is the Horsh Ehden Reserve, located in the northern Mount Lebanon range above above the Qadisha Valley. Thanks to a relatively high level of precipitation a variety of plants, birds, insects and rare mammals flourish in the Horsh Ehden Reserve -  in fact it is home to over 40 percent of unique trees (including cedars, ciclica firs, wild apples, and junipers), rare flora (including the Lebanese violet, the Ehden milk vetch and wilde orchids), endangered mammals (including martens, weasels, and badgers), as well as butterflies selamuders, and mushrooms.

Palm Islands Reserve
If you are enchanted by marine ecology be sure to spend some time in the Palm Island Reserve comprising three uninhabited islands. This Mediterranean marine ecosystem provides a perfect breeding ground for the endangered Green and Loggerhead Turtles, a nesting place for over 300 species of migratory birds and a home for the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal. The islands are rich in wildflowers and medicinal plants and their coastal waters have an abundance of fish sea sponges and other sea life. Visitors to the Palm Islands can have along the many trails swim and snorkel along the pristine beaches view the unique flora and fauna and search for remnains of former human inhabitants. The reserve is only accessible during the summer months and can be reached by a boat trip from Tripoli.

Tannourine Cedars Forest Reserve
The Tannourine Cedars Forest Reserve is a beautiful forested mountain environment located just south of the Qadisha Valley. Tannourine is home to over 50,000 ancient cedar trees, as wel a variety of pines,  poplars and other trees species. The region is also rich in natural springs and lakes, and has concentration of caves and sinkholes.

Tyre Coastal Reserve
Another destination for exploring Lebanon's coastal ecosystem is the Tyre Coast Reserve, located along a sandy stretch of beach south of Tyre. The Tyre Coast Reserve is home to several ancient artesian springs, creating a freshwater habitat and marshes that host frogs and other amphibians.  The breakfast coastal waters are rich in aquatic life, and the beach is a nesting place for endangered sea turtles and migratory birds. Part of the beach area is open for bublic swimming.

Skiing and Winter Sports
With six resorts catering to skiers and snowboarders of all ski levels, and with kilometers of  Nordic cross country and snowshow trails walking to be explored, Lebanon has something for everyone.
Each ofr the ski re3sorts boasts its own local flavor. For example, The Cedars Ski Resort near Mount Mekmel is located on the highest range and offers the most scenic landscape. Faraya Mzar is the best resort in terms of world class infrastructure and facilities. Other resorts, such as Laqlouq and Qanat Bakiche are known for their family oriented, friendly atmosphere. Faqra  and Zaarour are private ski resorts, with special peak reserved for members.
If you are seeking to evade the ski crowds many outdoor adventure tour operators take groups on cross country skiing and snowshoeing trips. Lebanon's high plateaus are tailor made for such Nordic pursuits.

Where to hit the slopes
The Cedars
The Cedars Ski Resort is Lebanon's oldest winter haven dating back to the early twentieth century. Its stunning scenery and the quality of the snow make it an exceptional snowboarding venue.
Getting there
130 km and two hours away from Beirut by car. To get there, keep going north on the coastal main road until you get to Chekka, one city before Tripoli. In Tripoli, take a right upwards through Amioun and keep going past Kousba, Turza, Hadet, Hasroun, Bzaoun, and finally Bcharreh wbich is a few minutes away from your destination.
Where to stay
The La Cabane wooden lodge is located right on the slopes of the Cedar Forest and offers cozy accomodations and snowshoe hire upon request. La Cabane 961 6 678067.
Overnight in one of these charming wooden lodges, located rigt at the entrance of the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve operated by Raymonda Sayde Yammine. La Reserve Horsh Ehden 961 3 751292

Faqra Club
Faqra ski slopes, located in the village of Kfardebiane has only four slopes, but offers great runs. With Faqra's picturesque location and diverse facilities. It's well worth the trip.
Getting there
45 km away from Beirut. Take the coastal highway to the north then turn right after the Dod River tunnel. Keep going straight up the mountain on the main road past Jeita,  Ballouneh, Faytroun, Faraya, and then finally Faqra Club.
Where to stay
The Auberge Beity is a hostel run by the charismatic Josephine who offers generous hospitality and a hearty breakfast. Auberge Beity 961 9 710109 Faqra Club 961 9 300601

With its retro 60's vibe, jagged mountain ridges and tree laden terraces, the Laqlouq resort at an altitude of 1750 to 2000 m is a boarder's paradise.
Getting there
Laqlouq's resort can easily be reached by taking the main coastal highway north to the city of Byblos. Take your right up towards Annaya, Mar Charbel's monastery and then another right before the checkpoint to Ihmij Village to reach Laqlouq resort. The village is 62 km from the capital and around an hour fifteen minutes drive.
Where to stay
Laqlouq Resort 961 3 441112

Mzaar hosts 80 km of ski tracks, spread out over 42 different trails. The highest point 2 465 meters offers a spectacular view over the Bekaa Valley, Laqlouq, the Cedars and the coast. Challenging slopes can be found off piste or at the peaks of Jabal Dib and Warde.
Getting there
Mzaar is 46 km from the capital and around an hour drive. Go north down the coastal highway until you reach the Dog River. Take the road going up and to the right towards Zouk Mosbeh. Keep going upwards past Jeita, Ballouneh and Faytroun, until you reach Faraya village that is 6 km under Mzaar slopes.
Where to stay
InterContinental Mzaar Resort and Spa is less than an hour drive from Beirut, and is a 5 star establishment with 140 rooms and suites, conference facilities and a variety of dining venues. Kfardebiane, Ouyoun el Simane 961 9 340100

Qanat Bakish
Located 1900 m above sea level, Qanat Bakish is  perfect for a peaceful snow filled escape. There's also a road that connectes this resort to the Faqra resort, so you can easily combine the two into one trip. Be warned it needs to snow heavily for this slope to function.
Getting there
Qanat Bakish is 47 km from Beirut and takes an hour and a half to get there. The best route is to take the rod to Faqra and keep going upwards.
Where to stay
Snow Land Hotel 961 3 340300

This is the closest resort to Beirut. Its North facing slopes offer a panoramic view across the famous Valley  of the Skulls.
Getting there
Zaarour's resort is 54 km from Beirut, which should be take you about an hour and a half by car. One option is to take the road from Sin el Fil and go past Mansourieh, Beit Mery, Broumana, Baabdat,Bickfaya, Dhour Choueir and Mrouj. Another option would be heading north on the coastal main road, turning past all the villages mentioned above.

Water Sports
With 225km of Mediterranean coastline, as well as numerous rivers throughout the country, Lebanon offers salt and fresh water sporting activities. Lebanon's rocky coastline and underwater twerrain make it a unique destination for snorkeling and diving. A 600m  deep underwater valley runs from Beirut to the Bay of Jounie, creating interesting rocky gorges and underwater cliffs and dropoffs for divers to explore. Another popular diving area is at Chikka which offers some of the best marine landscapes and flora and fauna off the Lebanese coast.
Exploring the underwater runs near Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre is another popular activity for divers and snorkelers; however you are required to obtain a special permit to dive near archaeological sites. There are several world class shipwreck sites, including "le Souffleur" ( a french submarine from World War II) near Khalde. for underwater exploration.
Lebanon's coastline is lined with many private beach resorts and diving clubs offering facilities and equipment rentals, for diving and snorkeling, as well as a variety of other water activities including water skiing, windsurfing and sailing. Nitrox equipment is available for technical deepwater dives.
While water sports in Lebanon are centered on coast there are also a number of freshwater activities including rafting kayaking and canyoning. These are concentrated on the rivers Nahr Litani and Nahr Ibrahim which typically swell as the spring weather melts the mountain snows creating great deep fast water conditions. Many ecotour operators offer guided rafting and water sport activities on Lebanon's rivers.
While water sports in Lebanon are centered on the coast., there are also a number of freshwater activities including rafting, kayaking and canyoning. These are concentrated on the rivers Nahr Litani and Nahr Ibrahim, which typically swell as the spring weather melts the mountain snows, creating great deep fast water conditions. Many  ecotour operators offer guided rafting and water sport activities on Lebanon's rivers.

The religious tourism and the pilgrims
Lebanon is a multiconfessional state, where you can count around 18 different religious communities. One of the phenomenal privileges of Lebanon is that you can discover all these communities willing to live together peacdefully in the same Land.
Lebanon is an integral part of the biblical land of Christ: in Tyre, you can envision Christ as he prerached to the multitudes, in Cana he performed his first miracle, in Maghdouche Virgin Mary waited for him...
The Christ was the first to evangelize Lebanon. Than, the holy scriptures report that Jesus prophesised and did miracles in the area running from Tyre to Sidon, the first one being water turned into wine in Cana. Jesus even praised the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon for their faith. Talking to the the pharisians, he reminded them of the prophet Elie being fed, during a starvation, by a widow from Sarpenta (south of Sidon). We also know that up on Hermon Mount, Jesus transfigured in front of his apostles. Saint Paul often visited the Christian living on the Lebanese coast, going through Tyre before being arrested. From north to south and east to west, crossing Bekaa plainsd and mountains, one can found place of worship for all confessions. The harmonious relationships existing in such a multiconfessional country show how much the principles of faith, respect, tolerance and friendship are deeply rooted as values of its foundation.
The Middle East belongs to the Arab world. It is the very place where different faiths meet. Islam is often linked and associated to this geographical place but other religions are also very present since this is where monotheistic religions first started to exist with to major places of pilgrimage such as Jerusalem known in the three monotheistic religions as a holy place and Mecca, worshipped by Muslim people. Concurrently to these two places, there is a developed net of holy places where an important devotion exists for saints, prophets and so on.
Religiuos tourism is a type of cultural tourism whose aim is to get people discover and get familiar with holy places, religious and different communities. Religious and cultural itineraries also represent an oppportunity to favor dialogue between cultures and to promote peace thanks to a better knowledge of nature, history, art, religious tradition and local ways of life. In this last case, we have an inter-religious or ecumenical approach. Lebanon and the Middle East are the ideal places where one can meet people belonging to different religious communities living together but having different beliefs and different holy and worship places.
Lebanon itself has 18 religious communities, Christians, Muslim, Druzes and Jewish.
Pilgrimmage is a faith going through these holy places and sanctuaries where God revealed himself. Lebanon can be characterized by a large number of pilgrimage places. Virgin Mary worship has a great importance. The number of worship places dedicated to her along with people attending masse and oratories are truly amazing. Parallel to this deeply rooted worship of Virgin Mary, people also worship numerous saints. Thus, we have saints who took part in the Christ's redemption, those who were his forerunners, his apostles, his martyrs, the church fathers, PHD beholders whose knowledge influenced the church organization, confessors, those whose holy life was a good example of the Christ's life, the virgins who underwent martyrdom for their virginity and faith and finally the men and women who dedicated their life to God.

Seeking solitude
View from Communaute des Beatitudes

The overwhelming silence of a convent makes it the perfect spot to escape the city and unwind. With over 60 spread around the country, they are an ideal base from which to explore Lebanon's rural parts.

If solitude is what you're after there is certainly nothing like the silence of a convent to help you escape from the fast pace of modern life. Monasteries and nunneries line the landscapes of Lebanon, hidden in rural parts, and make the perfect base for exploring the countryside. Humble and basic, if you're looking for luxury accommodation, look elsewhere, but the convent escape can provide an alternative lodging experience and an insight into a life unknown. They are also hubs for religious tourism,  for those looking to gain an intimate perspective on religious life in Lebanon or as a base for pilgrimage to the country's holy sites.

Communaute des Beatitudes (09 790820, 09 790821 18,000 LBP; 37,500 LBP inc. food) is near impossible to find, which is part of its charm. Located in Gharzouz in Mount Lebanon, it's a modern built monastery for the relatively new community of the Beatitudes in Lebanon. Winding country rods will lead you past farmers tending to their cattle orchards of olive trees, crumbling ancient ruins hidden among overgrowth and wild flowers. From the long approach a small stone tower with a cross peeps out from a blanket of trees blooming in different shades of green and yellow. Father Joseph, is friendly  and approachable lead of the monastery who will happily tell you about the history of the Community of Beatitudes.  Established within the Catholic Church as part of the Charismatic Renewal Movement the community was founded in France in 1973.
Here you can experience the Beatitudes simple community life; the small group of brothers and sisters don't have any employees, rather they work with their own hands , so their time is divided between growing food, cooking cooking, cleaning and praying, along with their mission outreach work and work and the organization of religious tours. Their tours offer the visitor everything from A-z; "We try to give an inner aspect of Lebanon,' Father Joseph says. "We take visitors to fabric, factories, the soap factories of Saida and they will visit both mosques and churches and be able to meet with local sheikhs."
The monastery  is spacious and the rooms simple but clean, mostly with shared bathrooms, through a few rooms have en suite. Take a room facing the Mary Queen of Peace Church and you'll look  out on the lands of tranquility. The views that stretch for kilometers are overwhelming and the perfect backdrop for some quiet through and reflection.
For Father Joseph, who has been based here since '98, two years after the Lebanese branch of the Community of Beatitudes was established, it's the perfect location to live. "As a place I love it,. It's still and calm but not far from Byblos. The view is sublime," he says. "We have breakfast outside next to the vines and a view from Beirut to Tripoli."

Where to sleep?

Beit al Kahen
This monastery has 67 beds and can host big groups; it's worth passing by alone to take in the impressive modernist futuristic church.
Donation LBP 30,000 inc breakfast 03 288211 Maad

Deir El Moukhalles
This Greek Catholic Monastery was founded way back in 1711 and it's location has even older roots
Single and dormitory rooms LBP 15,000 -  30,000 LBP inc breakfast 07 975064 - Joun

Osasis St Basile
 A welcoming place to spend the night at a a budget cost. Though they mostly host spiritual retreats and pilgrims, they have an open door policy. LBP 52,500 inc. breakfast 09 225176, Sister Andre 71 433226 Zouk Mikael, Keserwan

Deir St. Georges Al Chir
Stay in silence of the Lebanese countryside for a minimal price all meals are included. LBP 60,000 inc. breakfast, lunch, dinner 05 271151 Bmekkine

Community Abana, Our Father Deir
If it is silence you're after Deir Abana will deliver. This unique silent retreat convent offers plenty of space for contemplation. You can bring your own food; lunch can be enjoyed in the garden, in perfect silence.
Lebanese LBP 22,500, foreigner visitors 52,000 inc. food.  Brigitte, 03 153721

Saydet Qannoubine Convent Spend a weekend in the Qadisha Valley for stunning views and a real escape from city life. Single rooms, double and dormitories LBP 22,500  inc. breakfast 71 714342 - 06 645505 Qadisha Valley,  Qannoubine Valley

Qozhaya, House of Prayers, Saint Anthony the Great Monastery
This monastery dates back to over 1,000 years. The near by foyer has 20 rooms and is open is open to the public Single LBP 45,000 -  06 995504/5 Qadisha Valley Qozhaya Valley

Military Tourism (Dark Tourism)

Yellow House or Barakat House
Known as the "Yellow House" because of the color of the stone or Barakat House, the three storey structure was built in the 1920s by renowned architect Youssef Aftimos.
It stands along what used to be known as the "Green Line," which separated the two districts of Beirut, East and West.
At the war outbreak, militiamen moved in because of its strategic location. From there, snipers could easily pick off their victims - be they civilians or enemy fighters - from slits carved in the walls of the second and third floors that afforded clear views of their targets.
Slogans left by the snipers cover the walls of the house. Under the plan to preserve the house, it will be turned into an interactive museum named "Beit al Madina" (the home of the city).
"This building was used as a war machine and speaks for itself ," said the architect involved in the
museum project "If we keep it as is, it will be an important testament of the war."

Hotel St George 
French colonial hotel built in 1932. Once the most luxurious hotel in Beirut, the hotel was destroyed in the civil war and remained a ruin for thirty years.
It was being again redestroyed in 2005 when Rafik Hariri was killed in a bombing in front of the hotel. The road was closed for 2 and a half years in front of the St George Hotel.
A complex and endless legal battle opposes the owning company of the Hotel to Solidere (a constructing company charged of reconstructing Beirut after the war and owned mostly by Mr. Rafic Hariri) who is trying to expands its perimeter to the water surface ajacent to the St George Hotel.
The desire of Solidere to be the sole lease holder of the entire St George Bay has paralysed the renovation project of the Hotel who would lose its historic and commercial value if it lost its access to the water front and its beach facilities.

Fatima Gate or Bouwebit Fatmeh
Fatima Gate, also known as the Good Fence Crossing, is a former border crossing between Lebanon and Israel. The Gate marks the point at which Lebanese and Israeli urbanity comes closest. On the Lebanese side, it is close to the village ofr Kfar Kila and on the Israeli side, it is west of Metulla. The crossing has been closed since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon at the end of the 1982 - 200 South Lebanon conflict, and since the summer orf 2000 has been the site of many ant-Israeli demonstrations and cross-border stone throwing.
The Gate was also the place at which many Palestinian refugees resident in Lebanon rushed upon the liberation of South Lebanon to connect with their families and loved ones who remained in Israel since 1948. Many of them hadn't met their families ande loved ones since they fled Palestine in 1948 thinking it was a temporary leave.

Chateau Beaufort or Qalet el Shqif
Beaufort or Belfort is a crusader fortress with primary location on a rock, overlooking the plane of Marjeyoun, Litani river and the Nabatieh region...... Its about 1 kilometer to the south-south-east of the village of Arnoun, originally built by the Roman, then the crusader and restored by Fakhredine the Great, It is known as the beautiful fortress. Destruction of the castle by Israeli occupation: the castle was vandalized by the Israeli occupation army. Having been bombed several times before the invasion in 1982. Then used as a military site by the Israeli occupation forces  which have worked hard to destroy the features of the castle when part of the castle crumbled and cracked by the movements of the military vehicles inside the campus of the castle. Before the withdrawal in 2000, the Israeli army intended to destroy the castle totally but the meditation of the UNESCO saved this historical site.
Towering on a hill in the Arnoun area, Kalaat Chelif, aka Beaufort Castle, stands tall, a witness to Lebanon's history from the middle ages till modern times. Visiting the castle is a lesson in a history, architecture and no doubt an excuse for a beautiful outing in the southern countryside.

The history
The strategic location of Beaufort Castle has proven to be useful for armies and throughout the ages. In 1139, Fulk, king of Jerusalem, captured the site and gave it to the lords of Sidon, who shortly after began the construction of the castle. Very little is known about the fortification before that date.
In 1187 the Crusaders lost the stronghold to Saladin's army in a crushing defeat during the battle of Hattin. However, Reynald of Sidon put up quite a fight before the castle's eventual fall. Reynald met with Saladin and pretended to have Muslim affinities. He claimed he would hand over the castle peacefully but needed time to safe extract his family from the Christian town city of Tyre. Saladin gave him three months to do so, but instead Reynald stocked up on supplies and repaired the castle. When it was time for the handover, Reynald requested an extension but Saladin insisted he give up the fortress immediately. When he refused, Reynald was taken prisoner. After a bloody battle, Saladin was given control of the castle in exchange for Reynald's release.
In 1240, the castle reverted to the crusaders as a result of a treaty negotiated by Theobald I of Navarre. In 1260, the Knights Templar bought the site from Reynald's grandson Julian of Sidon, but relinquished control to the Mamlukes, eight years later; Chelif Castle remained in their control till the 16th century.
Fakhr el Din II took over the castle in the 17th century and added it to his network of fortifications. The Ottomans then controlled the fortress until the 1921 French Mandate after having defeated Fakr el Din in the early 18th century.
In 1976 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) occupied the castle before its capture by the Israelis in the the Battle of the Beaufort in 1982. The Israeli army converted the site by bui;ding bunkers and remained in the castle until their retreat from South Lebanon in 2000.

The architecture
The Beaufort Castle has the district features of a crusader castle. However, many invasions and the 1837 Galilee earthquake caused great damage to the fortress. The remains, however tell quite a story.
The fortress has three levels. The first level, which is carved in the stone, was used as a warehouse to store ammunitions and food. It is part of the original defense wall. This section of the castle was modified when it was under control of the Israeli army and is currently not open to the public.
When you visit,  you will notice that the second and third levels have recently undergone renovation. There are two towers, the main one is on the southwestern side known as the Don Juan Tower and the second is on the northeaster side. The towers were mainly used like any  surveillance. Just like any medieval fortress, you can find several narrow openings from where soldiers used to shoot their arrows invading armies. The Litani River surrounds the castle. In times of war, hot oil was poured over the water and set on fire to prevent the enemy from getting any closer..
A unique architecture feature of the castle is its entrance. While it was common in Europe to enter through the first floor, in Lebanon the convention was for a ground floor entrance as can be seen in  the construction.

The promenade
"From the parapets, the whole of Lebanon was laid out below like an aerial photograph, " writes journalist and author Nicholas Blanford. Beaufort Castle overlooks the Litani River, which flows past it on the east. The fortress allows stunning panoramic views of southern Lebanon and northern Israel Surrounded by greenery trees and beautiful forests, the view is nothing short of spectacular. From the top, you will get to view Shebaa Farms, the proud Mount Hermon and the glistering Mediterranean Sea.
The castle has undergone some renovation in the past years with the addition of rails and stairs for an easier visit. However, make sure to keep your kids safe and near you at all times. The entrance is free. Follow the steel ramp of the eastern cliff to get to the ruins and enjoy.
Once your visit is over, enjoy a traditionall cup of coffee at a nearby restaurant while basking in the glory that is South Lebanon.

Why is it called 
Beaufort: The crusaders named it Beaufort highlighting its magnificence and beauty 
Chqif: Chqif is the Aramaic word for "high rock" The Arabic name for  the castle reveals its unique location

From strategic military post to Lebanon's prized landmark
Shen Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, then Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon stood in front of Beaufort Castle and , addressing his solders, said the edifice had secured a front for his men.
After the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from south Lebanon in 2000, Speaker Nabih Berri stood in front of the edifice too, to stress how it had become a symbol of resistance in south Lebanon.
Located at the highest point of Arnoun, in Nabatieh, the castle has long played a major strategic role in Lebanese military history. Sitting at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, the castle oversees Israel, the Golan Heights, the slopes of Mount Hermon, the southern coastal plain and the Litani River.
After decades and centuries of war and occupation, the castle opened its doors in 2007 to the public. A foundation stone was laid in 2010 after an agreement was signed between the Council for Development and Reconstruction and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development with a budget of $3.5 million, of which Lebanon contributed $1 million. Refurbishment works began in 2011 and are set to conclude sometimes this year.
The Beaufort Castle, which means beautiful fortress, has historically served  as a strategic military position since 1139.
From the Phoenicians to the Babylonians, Assyrians, Roman and the Crusaders, all have commanded posts there at some point in time.
Arab travelers renamed the structure the Shafiq Arnoun Castle, and locals still refer to it as such.
Ali Badawi, head of the archaeological sites in south Lebanon of the Directorate General of Antiques, explained how the refurbishment project was divided into three parts. The first he said required experts to conduct archaeological excavations.
"This was important for two reasons," Badawi said. "The first was to learn more about the castle's history by examining artifacts Second, because you can't restore something until you'be completed excavation.
The second part of the project required  repairing the castle.
Badawi said the castle had seen its fair share of shelling over the years especially by the Israeli army, who used the fortress as a center to launch attacks at one point.
The third step required experts to rehabilitate the castle so that it could welcome tourist,  Badawi said.
Ever since the project kicked off in 2011, excavation took two years to complete and was conducted by a team of Lebanese experts headed by Badawi. They unearthed many artifacts to add to the castle's pristine history. "We discovered new aspects to the castle that weren't apparent previously, especially its lower levels,' Badawi said. These, he added, dated back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
We found a large number of pieces that highlighted daily life inside the castle, such as pottery, glass pots and coins," Badawi said.
"As well we found numerous shells, iron bombs and new rockets that the Israeli used to shell the castle during the 1982 invasion in addition to many metal arrowheads that go back to the period between the 12th and 15th centuries."
Most artillery was discovered by the castle's west wing, leading experts to believe this side has served as a historical military  post and played a strategic role in many battles.
Another important thing we  discovered was the water storage system in the castle," Badawi said, adding that it was unique because of its high altitude and the difficulty in accessing the Litani basin.
The castle's architects created a developed water collection system that channeled rain water to the specialized storage units. The experts also found a sewage system to remove waste water from the Beaufort Castle.
"Through excavation we began to understand how the castle  evolved over time", Badawi said..

Al Khyam Prison
Al Khyam Prison is the site of notorious torture and massive memories of years long imprisonment for many Lebanese during the 25 year long Israeli invasion of the region.
Today's it's a half destroyed museum bearing witness to the Israeli inflicted atrocities as well as to the remnants of the 2000 and 2006 Israeli withdrawals.
The museum houses artillery and tanks captured during the 2000 withdrawal of Israeli troops and the 2006 war with Israel. Cells and solitary confinement roomns attract many for the inscriptions written on their walls by the prisoners of war who occupied them for years.
In may 2000, when the Israeli withdraw from Lebanon, all detainees fled from Al Khyyam Prison. And the prison became a war museum showing the atrocity and cruelty of the Israeli in Lebanon, But during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, they bombarded extensively the prison to delete all traces of their inhumanity.

Between 1992 and 2000, the hilltop site at Mleeta served as military post for Hezbollah fighters. Its soaring views and well hidden caves making it the the focus for what developed into military operation against Israel. Today it's well designed touristic attraction laid out amid fountains and gardens over 65000 square meters of lands.

Wine Tourism
At the dawn of the sedentary lifestyle, the land of Canaan, which included the Lebanon, already knew vines. Lebanese ancestors were among the first to ferment grape juice from the vine stock growing on the steep slopes of Mount Lebanon .
The term wine, or Cherim in Phoenician, is derived from a Phoenician word referring specifically to the fermentation of grapes. Wines were a specialty of the Phoenicians. They must have learned about wine from earlier civilisations; however, they perfected viticulture and oenology and Phoenician wines became prized commodities of the ancient world and a major source of revenue in their exports.
A few centuries later, the Romans, who built the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbeck, seemingly practiced an esoteric initiation rite essentialy based on the solar disc, a symbol of birth and regeneration, inspired by the god of wine. Certainly the temple of Bacchus has many depictions of vines and wine drinking.
Also, the village of Qana where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast was a town near Tyre, Phoenicia, and not elsewhere.
With wine making tradition dating back 5,000 years, Lebanese is one of the oldest sites of wine production inh the world. The Bekaa Valley, is where the majority of vines are grown.
French influence on the country is apparent in the grape varieties most commonly planted: Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourverdre, Grenache and Syrah. However Lebanon has a rich heritage of indegenous grapes which are attracting more attention. Take a day trip to the picturesque Wester Bekaa, visting wineries for testing and having lunch.

Chateau Ksara
Nobody knows when wine was first made in Lebanon, although the Phoenician ancestors of today's Lebanese were certainly among the earliest winemakers. Later, in the Greco-Roman era, a wine cult flourished, as the ruins of the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbeck in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley bear eloquent witness.
In the heart of the Bekaa, near Baalbeck, lies the KSARA estate, so named becaise it was the site of a ksar, or fortress, at the the time of the Crusades. The property was acquired by the Jesuit Fathers in 1857 when it was already famed as a ninyard and they perpetuated the tradition of winemaking.
In particular, they pioneered the introduction of high-quality vines in Lebanon. New varietals, enjoying the exceptional climatic conditions in the Bekaa, were cultivated at Ksarsa and later at Tanail, an estate of 240 hectares ( 600 acres ) which also belonged to the Jesuit Fathers and which sent all its grapes to KSARA'S cellars. Ksara's natural wine cellar was a grotto discovered by the Romans who consolidated part of the vault and dug several narrow tunnels from the cave into the surrounding chalk. These tunnels were enlarged to their present size during World War I when the Jesuit Fathers sought to alleviate famine in Lebanon by creating employment. One hundred men toiled with picks and shovels for four years to complete an underground network of tunnels stretching for almost two kilometers ( about 2,000 yards ). the temperature in the tunnels is ideal for wine, varying throughout the year from 11 to 13 degrees centigrade. Ksara came into the hands  of its present owners when the Jesuit Fathers decided to sell the estate in conformity with the directives of the Vatican II synod. Today,  Ksara produces wines with strong personalities, achieving a rare condition of dry frutness, delicacy and robustness. Wines that leave an imprint on the memory which is as long as their history. Over the past decade, Ksara has seen the introduction of new grape varieties that have grown into vines the Bekaa Valley has blissfully nurtured. Ksara has also seen developments in technique such as vines cultivation on wires and the attentive application of advanced science by French oenologists, who watch over the vinification, fermentation and decanting processes.
Today, the wines of Ksara have a specific character, described as a "rare balance of dry fruitness, of delicacy and coarseness and of freshness and vigour." They are the new image of a deliberately international vineyard, classified today as one of the largest.
Ksara winery and vineyards are at 1200 m of altitude. With 240 sunny days, the heat of the summer days is compensated by the freshness of the nights, where a gentle and continuous breeze circulates all along the valley dropping the temperature from 30 to 15 degree centigrades . These cold nights help the vineyards to support the heat and the drought of summer. There is  between 600 and 700 mm of yearly pluviometry, concentrated in Autumn and Winter, in Spring there is less rain whereas in summer and during the growing season there is no more rain which means much less diseases and mushrooms attacks. The vineyards are treated with sulphur which is a natural product and no chemicals are needed, and the soil is worked out mechanically and manually. Harvesting is done by hand and there is no need for selection because the grapes reach ripeness without fear of botrytis rot.
Ksara grows noble grapes for its wines namely Cabernet-Sauvignon. Merlot, Cabernet-Franc, Syrah, Mouvedre, Tempranillo, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault for the and rose wine as for the white wine it uses Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Clairette and the Ugni-blanc.
For the arack the national drink it grows local varieties: abaidy and merwah
The soil is brick-red clay and chalky.
The standard yield of the vineyards is between 40 and 45 HL/Ha, and it is not irrigated.
The vinyards, all in the Bekaa, grow the grapes for Ksara wines: at the Ksara estate, there are 20 hectares (50 acres) of noble varietals such as Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache and Cabernet-Sauvignon. Yields are low from a clay / chalky soil, but the wines it produces are concentrated, aromatic and possess a market personality.
At Mansoura, 80 hectares (200 acres) of Cinsault, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Gamay, Syrah, Cabernet-Franc, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Grenache varietals on small individual vineyards on a brick-red clay / chalky soil produce intense, supple and aromatic wines with good ageing qualities.
The Khorbet Kanafer vineyards cover broken slopes of clay / chalky soil with remarkable qualities for cultivating vines, permitting several varietals to develop their full potential. The 50 hectares (125 acres) of the Kanafer vineyard belong to Ksara and are planned with noble varietals: Semillon, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Clairette, Syrah, Cabernet, Sauvignon Caladoc, Merlot and Mouvedre. The red wines are rich, fleshy and tannic, while the whites are delicate and aromatic and with good length.
Half of Tanail's 240 hectares is under vines and all ofits grape harvest comes to Ksara's cellars for winemaking. Varietals at Tanail are Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Muscat, Ugni blanc and Sauvignon.
The soil ensures late maturity which prevents over ripening and the grapes produce light, lively and graciously fruity wines.
At Tall Dnoub 30 hq Lime and clay soil. Grape varieties: Petit verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
At Kab Elias 11 hq on the chills of Kab Elias, one of our highest vineyards, at 1400 meter altitude. Silty and gravelly soil over limestone bedrock. Grape varieties: Muscat and Merlot.

Chateau Ksara, the country's oldest winery, began life in 1857 when Jesuit fathers inherited and began farming a 25 hectare plot of land to produce Lebanon's first non-sweet red wine. Indoing so they laid the foundation of Lebanon's modern wine industry.
Ksara winery has one of the oldest wine cellars in this region - 18th century. Ksara 's natural wine cellar was a grotto discovered by the Romans who consolidated part of the vault and dug several narrow tunnels from the cave. The story goes that a Jesuit priest who lived in monastery nearby was chasing a fox and followed it into the caves. Shortly afterwards the monks started planting the vines and found the climate very amenable for the grapes and these tunnels were enlarged to their present size.
One hundred men toiled with picks and shovels for four years to complete an underground network of tunnels stretching for almost two kilometers (about 2,000 yards).
The temperature in the tunnels is ideal for wine, varying throughout the year from 11 to 13 degrees centrigrade.
4000 tourists per year wind down into the dark, dank grotto peering at ancient tools and bottles entombed in dust and mildew. The cellars contain approximately 900000 bottles ranging from last year's vintage to a few final examples of the 1918 vintage.
Chateau Ksara was the first Lebanese winery to introduce modern grapes varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay - into Lebanon in the early 90s eschewing the sector's traditional reliance on less fashionable grapes such as Cinsault and Carignan. Today, its vineyards are home to some 20 varietes of grapes from the production of red, white, rose wines, vin doux (sweet wine) and arak.
Today, Chateau Ksara's reputation as Lebanon's biggest and oldest winery is secure.

Chateau Ksara invites you to discover the Ksara Caves, where a fine selection of chesse and wine, cold cuts and salad bar are served from 9a.m. until 6 p.m.
Number of visitors in 2009: 72,000

Chateau Kefraya
Kefraya is the second largest wine producer in Lebanon (over 1 million bottles per year). Situated in the heart of Lebanon, in the Bekaa valley, Chateau Kefraya expands its 300 hectares domain top the foothills of the Mount Lebanon, 20 km to the south of the city of Chtaura.
Both the vineyard, planted in a succession of terraces and hills having very often abrupt slopes, at an altitude of 950 to 1100 meters on clayey, limy and stony soils. together with an exceptional sun lighting six to seven months a year without any precipitation.
The winery, located in the middle of the domain, fitted with a highly sophisticated equipment allowing the manually gathered grapes to be conveyed, picked off from the bunch vinified and pressured very carefully, allowing the elaboration of a special and authentic wine, personal to Chateau Kefraya.
Michel de Bustros inherited the initial plots of lands in the Beqaa that were to become Chateau Kefraya in 1950. In addition to planting the vineyards, De Bustros planned, built and cultivated around the winery's cellar a 10,000 acre paradise of gardens, orchards, treelined streets, fountains, and arboreta. De Bustros loves opera , and that is the theme of each label he puts on his wines: naming them after famous female opera singers, and hiring women artists to make paintings of them to grace the labels of his red wines.
The streets winding throughout the acres of gardens and orchards that surround the winery's cellars are named after opera composers, such as Park Verdi, Park Rossini, Park Bellini and Park Puccini. The streets are named after plant species: Rue de Gyneriums, Rue de Eucalyptus, etc...
Chateau Kefraya differs from the vast majority of wines on the market by being blended instead of made with only a single strain of grapes. Thus, every wine is the product as much of the wine-maker's mind and taste as it is of the grapes it is fermented from. Thus Chateau Kefraya's wines are not "made" they are "composed". In the 80's, the Druze politician Walid Jumblat, bought a controlling stake from the De Bustros family.
And Kefraya first came to international prominence with its "Parkerised" Cabernet / Syrah Comte de M 1996, the first wine to properly step out of Musar's shadow.
Today, the winery produce international renowned wines.
Number of visitors in 2011: 49,000

Since 1951, Michel de Bustros undertakes the plantation of a vineyard on a land scattered with rocks that had never produced anything since the Creation. In order for this mere succession of terraces and fallow sloping hills, rising at a medium attitudes of 1,100 meters, to become suitable for vineyards implanting, buildozers and dynamiting operations were imperative. Clay chalk and stony soils, exposed to exceptional sunshine, were hence ready to be the birthplace of large wine producing domain in Lebanon,

Anxious to make an entrance into the quality gap, namely through a vine having already acquired a qualitative character particular to its age, it wasn't until 1970, in the middle of the "so-called civil war". that Chateau Kefraya started producing its own wine, using its own grapes coming from its own vineyards and in its own cellar endowed with state of the art technical equipment.

in the meantime, an image had already been born, Chateau Kefraya wines have acquired by now their nobility titles in Lebanon as well as abroad, in more than 40 countries, and their quality has been certified by the great number and their and prestige of the international distinctions obtained: gold, silver and bronze medals, not to mention trophies, laudatory articles in many specialized magazines, including the most famous among them, edited by Robert Parker, known as the "wine pope", and whose delicate palate is said to be to oenology what Einstein's brain is to science and who devoted an article to Chateau Kefraya entitled "An amazing accomplishment in Lebanon'.

Art and culture
Chateau Kefraya has always considered wine and art to be indissociable and even intimately related. To cite a few examples illustrating this idea:
In order to better personalize the vintage, where "Chateau Kefraya" wines are concerned, the label displays every year a new canvas painted exclusively by a female Lebanese artist, as a tribute to her talent...
As for the "Seduction" white wine, called Blanc de Blancs, a tribute is paid every year to a different opera, bearing also the name of a woman and following an alphabetical order,
In order to create an inspiring  environment to its members and visitor,  all the operations take place at Chateau Kefraya in  sumptuous setting where the carefully looked after lawns  bears the names of famous lyric composers Park Verdi, Park Puccini, Park Rossini, Park Bellini, Park Donizetti and Park Ponchielli
Chateau Kefraya believes that the work of art resuts from the principle of blending. The oenologist indeed is perceived as an artist composing his wines from several vines just like a painter uses the colors on his palette to creatre his canvas.

Oenotourism at Chateau Kefrya
Chateau Kefraya invites you to experience its terroir, key component of its art, in an outstanding natural and cultural environment.
Your journey starts at the kiosk in Bellini park, whee you can get an insight on all the activities proposed at the domain, Take the train tour through the vineyards and reach the highest terraces where our noblest grape varieties are blossoming to give birth to Chateau Kefraya's best cuvees, or embark towards Dagr el Moghr site and explore the hypogea, a reminiscence of  the roman presence in the 3rd century A.D.
You can then share a convivial meal at Le  Relais Dionysos. You will savour a subtle cuisine combining the traditional Lebanese mezze with western delicacies, accompanied with Chateau Kefraya's wines, what would permit you to enjoy great vintages at very preferential rates.
After this interlude, wander in the verdant parks a perfect venue for weddings  and banquets before stepping into the cellar for a guided tour. Get acquainted with the multiple souvenirs and awards adorning the museum's walls, take a seat to watch a video presentation of the domain and discover the different steps of wine making, leading you to the "Treasures Room" where our prestiigious vintages rest.
End your visit at the showroom L"Accueil Dionysos for a guided free tasting of the whole range of wines. We propose a rich assortment of wines and accessories available for sale.

Range of products

Blanc de Blancs
Seduction wines
Blanc de Blancs
Composed essentially from the atypical trio chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc this complex blend combines up to 8 grapevines and reveals while in harmony, floral aromas of lilies and acacia, along with intense flavors of honey, apricot, vanilla and exotic fruits, such as mango, It addresses tasters in search of a fine, fresh and elegant "Seduction Wine".

Myst is Chateau Kefraya's "Seduction" rose wine. This blend, essentially obtained from bled rose, is composed of the vines Cinsaut, Temparanillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. It reveals, while in elegance and subtlety, favors and aromas of citrus and red fruits such as redcurrant, strawberry and blackcurrant. A true summer rose wine, to be tasted while appreciating its delicate attire of sensual curves.

Les Breteches
Rewarded worldwide several times, this seduction red wine is born from a blend of no less than 7 different grapevines. The Cinsaut, which dominates in this blend, is generally associated with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mouvedre and Tempranillo, and to the grapes coming from the recently planted plots of Marselan, Cabernet Franc and Carmenere. combining harmoniously structure and roudness, this light wine with silky tannins is characterized by hints of red fruits, with a strong cherry flavor.

Chateau Musar
Chateau Musar is the smallest of the wine commercial producers in Lebanon and yet it has the best reputation for quality. Most of its wine is exported. The winery was established by Gaston Hochar in 1930. The current proprietors are the sons, Ronald and Serge Hochar, the latter managing the estate since 1959, with Ronald Hochar assuming marketing and finance department responsibilities since 1962.
The international discovery of Musar took place at the Bristol Wine Fair of 1979 when Musar was selected as the :discovery of the year".
Despite war in Lebanon and frequent tension, wine has been produced at the Chateau every year, with employees   sometimes working under high risk conditions.
Though comparisons are sometimes made with great French wine, it is most frequently maintained that  the wine of Musar is quite unique.
The red wine which is the best known is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvedre grapes. The whites are made from Obaideh (related to Chardonnay) and Merwah (related to Semilion).

Ixsir Wine
 A potion guaranteeing eternal life, as well as a mixture intended to cure one's ills. The vision behind IXSIR is to reveal the best terroirs of Lebanon, some forgotten long since.
Established by friends with a common passion for both wine and Lebanon, IXSIR is the culmination of their dream in creating a fine wine that will forever be associated with their fatherland.
The wines of IXSIR blend rich varieties of grapes cultivated from carefully selected terroirs that symbolize the diversity of Lebanon. Spread from Batroun in the Nortrh, to Jezzine in the South, and the hillsides of the Bekaa Valley in the East, these selectevely chosen vineyards embody the best terroirs the country has to offer.
Winemaking and aging occur in a winery above which rests the Seignorial House. Located on the hills of Batroun, this 17th century bastion of regional heritage presides over a contemporary winery with sustainability at its core. It unites the Earth's ressources to give birth to wines that reveal the secret that lies within.

Monasteries Wine
With faith on their side and blessed harvests, Lebanon's Christian Maronite monks had always produced their own wine.
Wine is mentioned in the bible and Jesus gave it symbolic meaning by turning water into wine, and Lebanese monasteries had over centuries kept their know-how of making a great wine. Most of the Christian Monasteries had their own wine cave underneath the monastery. Nowadays some monasteries had gone into wine production business. And you can find their products in Lebanonese market and abroad.

Massaya Wine
Massaya which means twilight is given its name from the sun when it sets on the mountains beyond, turning the vineyards purple. This is a new vineyard and these new wines come from a Lebanese / Franco partnership between the Ghosn brothers and the leading French wine maker Hebrard. Like the other vineyards it is located at around at around 1000m where the slopes are protected by the Mount Lebanon range. The grapes are free of frost and disease and the climate average 25 degrees. Again the favored varietes of grape Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are used. Number of visitors in 2011: 15,000

Wine Wardy
Wardy has a portfolio of 12 wines, including five varietals and a very gluggable, Christmas blend. Owner Selim Wardy has now produced what he calls a Private Selection red from Syrah and Cabernet picked from what he tells me is the highest vineyard (1,700m)  in the Middle East.

Cave Kouroum
This is Kefraya winery that produces ten wines under the careful eye of the colorful, hippy winemaker Yves Morard. His Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon, weighing in at a whopping 14.5% alcohol, recently won a brace of prizes at Vin Expo.

Clos St Thomas
The Touma family made their name in Arak in the mid 90s they moved into wine production proper and the result was Clos St Thomas. Thomas founded by Mr. Said Touma is beautifully situated at an altitude of 1000m on the Eastern slope of Mount Lebanon, overlooking the Bekaa Valley. It is spread over 50 hectares (125.3 acres) The most locally known wine they produce is their Chateau St Thomas. As with other varieties the grapes are sorted and stripped, then fermented. It is then aged for 18 months in oak caasks, before bottling. It is drinkable at two years.

Domaine des Tourelles
When Frenchman Francois Eugene Brun laid out the foundationn stone of Domaine des Tourelles in Chtaura back in 1868, he couldn't have known that he had just begun to write the marvellous story of Lebanese wine.
Francois Eugene Brun was born in the 19th century in France. At an early age he moved from his village to Marseille where he settled. Captivated by the plain's landscape that reminded him of his homeland, he decided to settle in Chatura where he founded in 1868 Domaine des Tourelles. Hence, his winery became the first commercial cellar in Lebanon producing wines, arak and other spirits.
Soon after, the distillery prospered and flourished with high demands on the cellar's products. Brun's passion for wine lead his reputation beyond Lebanon as Domaine des Tourelles won, as of the 19th century, gold, silver and bronze medals in various prestigious international wine contests.

Skiing Tourism and Snowshoe Adventure
Snowshoeing offers the freedom to explore secluded landscapes, snow covered trees, animal tracks....and incredible views from high vantage points.
Just imagine it ... the solitude of a white winter landscape, the only background sounds are icicles falling from trees and birds chirping. Lebanon is an ideal destination for snowshoe enthusiasts in search of backcountry escapades, boasting expansive hillsides and snow covered peaks in the winter months.
Today, snowshoeing is the fastest growing snow activity. But, it has been around for thousands of years. Primarily used by hunters to traverse snow covered landscapes in search of food the first snowshoes were primtive, made from wood and animal skins. The saying goes, "if you can walk, you can snowshoe" and this really is true. There are a few techniques, which you need to master, such as going up and down hills, traversing, plus the correct pole usage. But, if you are physically fit, you can become a snowshoeing expert in no time.
Snowshoeing can basically be done anywhere there is snow and no marked trails are needed. Just as with hiking it's best not to go out the snow alone to ensure safety so always go with a friend, or a local guide to direct you to the best viewpoints. Or join one of Lebanon's hiking groups, which organize snowshoe outings most winter weekends.
Snowshoeing has become the writer sport of choice for many nature enthusiasts seeking solitude, put off by the mayhem of crowded roads leading to the ski resorts. And, snowshoeing is unlikely to break your bones or your budget. It is not a risky activity and there is no need to pay for lift tickets. Required gear includes the snowshoes themselves which you can always rent, plus appropriate footwear and clothing.

What you need to get started
- Snowshoe and poles can be rented from all major sport shops for around 10 USD. Winter lodgings can also arrange for hire.
- Insulated waterproof boots or leather waterproof hiking boots.
- Microlight thermal underwear and polyester fleece insulating mid-layers. A waterproof, breathable shell jacket and pants to keep you dry. Keep your head and hands covered to prevent loss of body heat and to protect from sunburn,
- Wool or synthetic stocks
- Knee-high gaiters from waterproof fabric, to keep snow out of your boots.
- Cap or woolen hat and sunglasses
- Sunscreen is a must as burning UV rays are especially intense when reflected off snow.

Where to go and stay
Try to avoid the busy ski resorts and seek the solitude of the Lebanon's back country and nature reserves. Horsh Ehden, Tannourine and Barouk are perfect destinations due to news of high towering snow covered trees. An overnight stay in the region, with a warm home cooked supper to welcome you after a day in the snow, will just add to the Lebanese winter wonderful experiences.

The Tannourine Reserve one of the largest and densest cedar forests in Lebanon, boasts around 6,000 trees and is so rich in biodiversity. Forest ranger George Sarkis operates a guesthouse close to the reserve and he can organize guided snowshoe  trips. Guesthouse George Sarkis 961 6 500007

The Kfardibane region offers expansive trails for snowshoeing all the way up to the Roman temple of Faqra and onto the wondrous Jisr el Tabiyi, a natural bridge. Stay at the Auberge Beity in Kfardibane, a hostel run by the charismatic Josephine who offers generous hospitality and a hearty breakfast. 
Auberge Beity 961 9 214871

The Barouk Forest in the Chouf region is renowned for it's incredible biodiversity and you are sure to spot the tracks of wild animals on snow blanketed trails. Discover the trails with a forest ranger, whose services can be booked for the day at the main entrance. Stay at the Myrna Boustani guesthouse in the village of Barouk, which offers cozy and comfortable rooms in a lovely traditional house.
Myrna Boustani guesthouse 961 3 633862

The Cedar Forest of Bcharre features the oldest trees in Lebanon and is a must visit for anyone visiting the country. The area is not vast but a snowshoe hike here is perfect for those looking for a more leisurly outing plus incredible carvings in the Cedar trees. The La Cabane wooden lodge is located right on the slopes and offers cozy accomodation and snowshoe hire upon request.

The Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve  is on the northwestern slopes of Mount Lebanon and features magnificient cedars, junipers, fir, and wild apple trees. Overnight at charming wooden lodges located right at the entrance of the reserve and operated by Ramonda Sayde Yammine who can arrange for snowshoe hire. Don't leave without tasting her delicious harisse, a spicy wheat and chicken stew and the regional meat specialty of ras kibbe.
La Reserve Horsh Ehdem 961 3 751292

Where to ski
The Cedars
Lebanon's oldest ski resort, The Cedars opened its first ski lift in 1953. With chalets, clubs and restaurants, this popular ski resort is the perfect winter getaway. The stunning scenery and the quality of the snow make it an exception skiing venue.
Directions: 130 km and two hour's away from Beirut by car. To get there keep going north on the coastal main road, until you get to Chekka, one city before Tripoli. In Chekka, take a right upwards through Amioun and keep going past places like Kouba, Turza, Hadet, Hasroun, Bazaoun and finally Bcharre afew minutes away from your destination. 961 70 103222

Faqra Club
Opened  in 1974, the Faqra ski resort is located in the village of Kfardebiane and filled with charming chalets and ski slopes of varying difficulty. It's smaller than some of Lebanon's other resorts with only four slopes, but they are high quality and combined with Faqra's picturesque location and diverse facilities, it's well worth the trip.
Directions: 45 km away from Beirut. Take the coastal highway to the north, then turn right after the Dog River tunnel and keep going straight up the mountains on the main road past Jeita, Ballouneh, Faytroun, Faraya, and then finally Faqra Club. Kfardebiane Village 961 9 300601

With its retro 60s vibe and wondrous natural setting amidst jagged mountain ridges and tree laden terraces the Laklouk resort is a joy to visit. At an altitude that ranges between 1,750 and 2,000 meters it offers excellent alpine and cross-country skiing terrains. The first ski lifts were installed in 1958. Now it has eight runs to choose from.
Directions: Laklouk's resort can be easily reached by taking the main coastal highway north to the city of Jbeil, after which you take your right up towards Annaya Mar Charbel's monastery. On your way, up take your right before the checkpoint to Ihmij village to reach Laklouk resort, which is 62 km from the capital. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes to get there. Laklouk 961 3 441112

Mzaar Lebanon
Mzaar boasts 80 km of ski tracks, spread out over 42 different trails. This is an easy getaway for weekend skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobile fanatics. The highest point 2,465 meters offers a spectacular view over the Bekaa Valley, Laklouk, the Cedars and the coast. Challenges can be found off-piste or at the peaks of Mzaar, Jabal Dib and Warde.
Dircetions: from Beirut's your destination can be reached within an hour and a couple of minutes 46 km away from the capital, you go north down the coastal highway until you reach the Dog River, after which you take a road up right to Zouk Mosbeh. You keep travelling upwards reaching towns like Jeita, Ballouneh, Faytroun, and then Faraya village, which is 6 km under Mzaar Kfardebiane's slopes. Kfardebiane 961 70 103222

The following two resorts are currently not open for skiing but are great places for fun in the snow.

Qanat Bakish
Located 1,900 meters above sea level with five ski slopes. Qanat Bakish as a ski resort in 1967. Less crowded than most of Lebanon's other ski resorts, it is perfect for a quiet and peaceful snow filled escape. There's also a road that now connects the Faqra resort to Qanat Bakish so you can easily combine two ski resorts in one trip.
Directions: Qanat Bakich is 47 km away from Beirut, and takes an hour and a half to get there. The best route is to take the road to Faqra and keep going upwards. Kfardebian 961 3 340300

The closest ski resort to Beirut the capital, Zaarour ski resort and country club is one of the smallest in Lebanon, yet it offers many outdoor winter activities in addition to skiing. Zaarour ski slopes are North facing offering and excellent quality of snow with a panoramic view spanning the famous Valley of the Skulls. Since it has beenrebuilt as a private club, meticulous attention has been given to the slopes clearing them of boulders to create a fun and safe  skiing experience. For the safe country skier Zaarour offers a four kilometer track on the Sannine mountain with beautiful views and fresh clean mountain air.
Directions: Zaarour's resort is 54 km away from Beirut, which should take you about anh hour and a half. One option is taking the road from Beirut's Sin el Fil and going up past  Mansourieh, Beit Mery, Broumana, Baabda Bickfaya, Dhou Choueir and Mrouij. Another option would be heading north on the coastal main road, and then turning right in Antelias going straight up on the Bickfaya road, followed by all the villages mentioned above. Zaarour 961 9 231611

Yoga Tourism - Beauty through yoga

Yoga on the beach 
Nothing makes you feel better like walking on a sandy beach enjoying the sun. The Edde sands resort offers yoga classes on the beach for double enjoyment. Relax under the sun, let yourself be taken by the sound of the waves, go deep into meditative state and unwind.
Classes are offered Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students can choose between morning and afternoon classes. Each class costs 22,500 LBP or 157,500 LBP for a whole month of lessons.
961 9 546666 ext 126

Laughter yoga
Laughter yoga is a revolutionary idea. It combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing. Laughter is stimulated as a body exercise in a group and with eye contact and childlike playfulness it soon turns into real and contagious laughter. Based on the scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter, laughter yoga give the body the same physiological and psychological benefits of a good laugh.
961 3 160434 or 961 3 912123

Yoga retreat
Olga Pavlova, yoga teacher and holistic massage therapist, organizes yoga retreats that take place outdoors and and away from the hustle bustle of the city. The retreats are based on yoga and include different levels of students. They  are also meant as a yoga cleansing. During a whole weekend you will exercise, eat healthy and cleanse yourself from all toxins. They usually take place from Friday to Sunday early evening in green spaces such as the Ecovillage in the Shouf, or in the cedar forest nursery in Ramlieh or in Maasser al Shouf. The cost is around 300,000 LBP per person 961 3 096147

Shiva Lila Yoga Space Beirut
Located in Clemenceau, the Shiva Lila Yoga Space offers different approaches to yoga ranging from fluid power and vinyasa flow to tantra yoga and hatha yoga. Classes are held every day and a single session costs 20,000 LBP and a 10 passes booklet 150,000 LBP  961 3 335054 or 961 76 624386

Qi Gong with Barbara
A Chinese variation of yoga, Qi Gong is the practice of alighing breath movement and awareness for ecercise, healing and meditation. With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts, ande philosophy, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as "intrinsic life energy". Typically a qigong practice involves rythmic breathing, coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement and a calm mindful state. Barbara Driesken will coach you and help you find your balance. Classes are held every Wednesday evening in Mar Mikhael and cost 15,000 LBP   961 3 096147

Yoga and Tourism 
Find your balance and tour Lebanon with Lola Travel's one week yoga retreat. Learn the fundamental principles of yogic balance during morning and evening yoga session in the peaceful in the peaceful seaside of Byblos Sur Mer Hotel. Between sessions follow a guide to major landmarks of the Lebanese touristic map. This 7 day yoga retreat is also an occasion to learn some healthy Lebanese recipes and enjoy  Ayrvedic massages. 961 70 427821 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the
world's leading questionnaire tool.

Traditional Treats
Chicken Sandwich from Lala Chicken 
As far as simple chicken sandwiches go, you cannot beat the taste of Lala Chicken that has been around since 1967. The chicken is cooked on a charcoal grill, then cut into small pieces and spread on pita. The sandwich is then grilled again over the hot charcoal and once the bread is well toasted, the chefs opens it up carefully as to not break the bread and spreads the inside with aioli sauce. Expect to eat at least  two of these tasty sandwiches. If you are off carbs, you can always eat the grilled chicken dipped in the garlic sauce
Lala Chicken Al Hikmeh Street, Next to Pasta Restaurant, Boubouffe Restaurant and Spinneys Supermarket, Achrafieh. Opens daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tel: 961 1 203986 Mobile: 961 3 544519. Mansourieh main road Tel: 961 4 534402 Mobile: 961 71 030366
Appetizers: Tabbouleh 6,000 LBP, Hommos 6,500 LBP, Hommos with Meat 8,500 LBP, Moutabal 6,000 LBP, Warak Inab 6,000 LBP, Grilled Potatoes 6,000 LBP, French Fries 5,500 LBP, Arayes Lala 6,000 LBP, Cheese Rolls (6 Pieces) Grilled / Fried 6,000 LBP, Season Salad 5,500 LBP, Chicken Caesar Salad 11,000 LBP.
Grilled Sandwiches: Chicken (Garlic + Pickles) 5,500 LBP, Chicken Breast 6,500 LBP, Chicken Liver 5,500 LBP, Tawouk 6,000 LBP, Chilli Kheshkhash 5,500 LBP, Grilled Meat 5,500 LBV, Chilli Orphali 5,500, Kabab 5,500 LBP, Kafta 5,500 LBP.
Grill: Whole Grilled Chicken (Garlic + Pickles) 20,000 LBP, Half Grilled Chicken 11,000 LBP, One Dozen Chicken Wings 17,000 LBP, Half Dozen Chicken Wings 9,000 LBP, Half Kilo Tawouk 25,000 LBP, One Kilo Tawouk 45,000 LBP, Half Kilo Meat 24,000 LBP, One Kilo Meat 47,000 LBP, Half Kilo Kabab 24,000 LBP, One Kilo Kabab 47,000 LBP,  Half Kilo Kafta 24,000 LBP, One Kilo Kafta 47,000 LBP, Half Kilo Orfali 24,000 LBP, One Kilo Orfali 47,000 LBP, Half Kilo Kheshkhash 24,000 One Kilo Kheshkhash 47,000 LBP, Half Kilo Mixed Grill 24,000 LBP, One Kilo Mixed Grill 47,000 LBP.
Lala Platters: Half Grilled Chicken - Fried or Baked Potatoes - Hommos - Salad 20,000 LBP, Half Grilled Chicken - Baked Potatoes - Steamed Vegetables 20,000 LBP, 3 Grilled Meat Brochettes - Fries - Salad - Hommos 19,000 LBP, 3 Grilled Tawouk Brochettes - Fries - Hommos - Salad 22,000 LBP.
Drinks:Small Mineral Water 1,000 LBP, Laban Ayran 1,500 LBP, Soft Drinks 1,5000 LBP, Juice 1,500 LBP, bEER almaza 3,500 LBP, Ice Tea 2,000 LBP, Perrier 4,000 LBP, Coffee 3,500 LBP, Tea 3,500LBP, Nescafe 3,500 LBP

Shawarma Sandwich from Boubouffe
A household name, Boubouffe has also been around for quite some time. The menu lists a variety of sandwiches but Boubouffe's best is the shawarma because it is a charcoal grilled whether chicken or beef, Boubouffe's shawarma is a delicious mix of meat and spices cooked to perfection, wrapped in Lebanese pita. While the beef is seasoned with hummus and vegetables, the chicken shawarma is enhanced with a mild garlic sauce and fines, making it all the more flavorsome. As far as the price goes at 8,000 LBP, Boubouffe's shawarma sandwich is a bit more expensive but here the saying 'you do get what you pay for' rings true, so indulge yourself
Charles Malek Avenue, next to Lebanon and Gulf Bank, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon
Opens daily from 8 a.m. till 12:30 a.m. the next morning. Tel: 961 1 200408 Mobile: 961 3 334040  

Falafel Freiha 
A fried chickpea and bean paste Falafel sandwich is deliciously satisfying and Freiha who has been in Achrafieh for ages, does it best. Watching the sandwich being prepared  is perhaps what makes you mouth water the most. After taking out the hot balls from the boiling oil, the chef squashes them on the bread, then adds tomatoes, chopped parsley, pickled tumip and covers them with tarator sauce 9tahina, lemon and garlic). He then rolls the sandwich tightly and voila - a scrumptious and substantial vegetarian treat for a mere 3,000 LBP. Sassine Square, Achrafieh, facing ABC Department Store. Tel: 961 1 321608 Opens from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m.

Hamra and Ras Beirut
Broad Beans at Manara 
Rain or shine, day or night, you will bump into the foul vendor when taking a stroll along  the seafront , locally known as the Corniche or Manara. From his cart he will serve you hot broad beans on a plastic plate, sprinkled with salt and cumin, and ganished with slices. As you walk and enjoy the sights you will be delighted by this basic yet delicious treat. A small plate will set you back 2,000 LBP, a medium one 3,000 LBP and 5,000 LBP for a large one. And, if you are worried about the calories you can always walk it off. Can be foud daily anytime between 5 am and 3 am next day.

Spinach Fatayer from Faysal
Originally a restaurant which has transitionned into a snack bar. Faysal has been on Bliss Street for an age and is one of the most visited addresses in the area. Although it is known for many things, my favorite item on the menu is the Spinach Fatayer. A pastry filled with the perfect mix of spinach, onions, seasonning, lemon juice and olive oil. The fatayer come in two sizes, small and large, and although the stuffing is the same,  I personally prefer the small ones, as they have a higher concentration of oil in the dough. A large Fatayer costs 1,500 LBP, while the mini versions go for 500 LBP per piece.
Tel 961 1 367281 or 961 1 367830 Opening hours 24/7

Manoucheh at Furn Abed Al Aziz
Perhaps one of the most consumed street foods in Lebanon, the manoucheh is one treat that Lebanese miss most when abroad. Resembling a pizza, it is spread with a thyme and olive oil mix  and cooked in the oven. At Furn Abed Al Aziz located in the midst of Hamra's busiest crossroad facing Hallmark, they use Accaoui cheese as an alternative; For those who wish to sample both types there are two options either get the mini version or, which is proving a more popular choice, get a manoucheh cocktail that is half cheese, half thyme. A thyme manoucheh costs 1000 LBP, while the cheese is 2000 LBP and for a small extra charge you can garnish it with fresh vegetables. Open daily from 7 am to 4 pm.

Antabli Hamra
Established in 60's, Antabli was known for its fountain in the Beirut Souks and was the number one address for Lebanes sweets. The civil war ravaged its previous location and Antabli moved and opened several branches, one of which is in Hamra.  This is where you go to satisfy your sweet tooth. All kinds of desserts are available from meghleh (a cinnamon ground rice dish) and mouhalabiyeh (almost like blancmange) to simple custard and jelly. However, we suggest you try the "riz bi halib" (rice pudding) a traditional and very simple dessert made from ground rice, sugar, milk, and a touch of orange blossom water. For Lebanese, this is a treat that was always available in their grandmother's fridge, the riz bi halib at Antabli is not to be missed and it will only cost you 1,500 LBP.
Tel 961 1 739326.  Opens daily from 9:30 a.m to 1 a.m. the next morning.

Cocktail Pieces from Bliss House
Need a boost of energy after walking the streets of Beirut?
Try the Cocktail Pieces from Bliss House. In a cup, your server will mix juice with fresh pineapple, kiwi banana, strawberry and other available fruit pieces and top it with cream (achta). For that extra energy drizzle it with honey and sprinkle with pistachio nuts. This healthy but filling treat will set you back 4,500 LBP  for a small cup, 6,000 LBP  for a medium one, and 7,500 LBP for a large. Around since 1978, Bliss House has been serving this cocktail to generations of American University of Beirut  students.
Tel 961 1 366290. Opening hours 24/7.

Spears and Mar Elias
Lahem biajeen from Ichkhanian Traditional Bakery
Established in 1946 and better known as Furn Al Arman (The Armenian Bakery), Ichkanian offers a very unique variation of a very popular Lebanese dish. Lahm Biajeen consists of finely minced meat mixed with onions garlic, tomatoes and spices spread on a very thin pizza like dough and baked in an open oven. But, Mrs. Ichkanian, who runs the bakery, has her own personal recipe and cooks it the Armenia way with special spices, or the Halabi way with pomegranate syrup and pine seeds. A sprinkle of salt and squeeze of lemon juice won't go amiss. Enjoy it hot, straight from the oven. If you are craving both, you can always take a mini size of each. A mushroom version is available for vegetarians. The large pastry is priced at 2,000 LBP, the medium costs 1,000 LBP and the smallest ones go for 750 LBP each.
Tel 961 1 375178. Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 am to 3pm.

Originally a butcher, Barbar has grown to be one of the most popular snack in Lebanon. Clean, tasty and affordable, people rush there to satisfy their hunger. From pizzas to Lebanese specialties and all kinds of sandwiches, Barbar has it all. We suggest you try the kafta sandwich. Ground meat, mixed with parsley and onions that is grilled and served in a sandwich with hummus and a unique mix made especially for it. You can always accompany it with some fries but the sandwich stands well on its own.
Open 24/7. Barbar is busy all day and all night.. Tel 961 1 379778. Opening hours 24/7.

Foul & Balila from Le Professeur
Le Professeur specializes in "foul and balila" , which can be consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Foul is a mixture of boiled beans and chickpeas mashed together, then seasoned with a lemon, olive oil and garlic  dressing. Balila is boiled chickpeas with a similar dressing but lots of cumin. Served hot with a side of fresh radish, mint, olives, green onions and even a hot pepper sauce, they are very traditional breakfast beloved by many Lebanese. Every foul maker has his secret ingredient that sets his dishes apart from the rest. At 6000 LBP (per dish) it is worth every penny!
Tel 961 1 703666. Open from 7 am to 10 pm.

Lebanon slow food snail trail

Kebbeh is considered one of our most cherished national dishes. We are all accustomed to eating kebbeh in all forms - vegetarian varieties included for those who can't eat meat or abstain from eating it during certain periods of the year. But what is Kebbeh? Kebbeh is simply seasoned ground meat or mashed vegetables mixed together with burghul. That's all.
What most of us probably don't know is that kebbeh is produced and cooked differently across the country. From the north to the south of Lebanon, there is a whole range of regional varieties, its diversity is derived from local traditions in a given region, especially the availability of certain ingredients on hand, kebbeh is served raw, boiled, baked, grilled or fried.
In the north of Lebanon, goats herd on high mountains therefore raw kebbeh is made mostly with goat meat. In Zghorta, they pride themselves on their kebbeh. This kebbeh, stuffed with animal fat, garlic and dry mint, is usually cooked on a barbecue. Alternatively, a mixture of sauteed onion and minced meat is used as stuffing. Fresh raw meat, which has been cooled, is also made tender loving care by pounding it in a huge mortar with a large pestle. It takes a lot of strength to pound the meat and most women who do this exercise develop muscles in their arms.
On the coast in Tripoli, where fish is abundant, kebbeh is made with ground fish instead of meat, mixed with burghul. White pepper is added to the mix with the salt. The mixture, which is almost dough like, is made into oval balls or spread to cover the bottom of a round baking tray. It's stuffing is vegetarian and in the case of the tray, another layer of kebbeh is used as a cover. The quality and freshness of the fish is important to ensure good results.
Kebbeh balls are used in cooking and make up an important ingredient in local soups and stews. Kebbeh drenched in yogurt is a family favorite eaten throughout the country. This recipe may have been derived from the Bekaa Valley where cow milk is abundant. A piece of awarma, a meat preserve made of lamb conserved in fat, is also added to the yogurt in the Chouf to make the dish heartier. In the high mountains, goat milk is used instead, giving the stew a pungent, tangier taste. The benefit of cooking with goat milk is that it doesn't curdle. Therefore adding an egg and / or cornstarch to the yogurt is not necessary.
Another way to serve kebbeh balls is in a sauce made with tahini diluted in citrus juice, made mostly of bitter Seville oranges. This may be served with chunks of slow cooked meat, beef or lamb. In the Keserwan, kebbeh balls are served in a kishk soup. Kishk is a yoghurt with burghul that has been fermented for a few days then dried in the sun and finally ground into a fine powder. Awarma is added too for peasants who need extra strength..
In the South of Lebanon, mostly in Sidon, kebbeh balls are stuffed with butter mixed with walnuts and hot red pepper paste. This type of stuffing is also found typically in Syria and the red pepper paste that is used is also imported from there. We call it "shattah". Variations of red pepper paste exist ranging from mild to spicy hot. Cooks tend to agree on a milder paste, In Nabatyeh, raw kebbeh is pounded on a marble slab called "blata" and mixed with a special local spice called "kamouneh' It is made mostly of cumin and a mixture of fresh and dried herbs. Dried rose petals (Jurri) are also added to the spice. This type of kebbeh is called "Frakeh".
It is worthwhile  to take a journey to discover the richness of one of our most important national dishes, kebbeh. You will find similarities in different regions, but mostly you will enjoy its diversity whether in the use of ingredients, method of preparation or, finally, in the way it is cooked. Happy trails! .

Kebbeh variations
Kebbeh Rass
Kebbeh shells empty or stuffed with sauteed meat (beef, lamb or goat), onions, and roasted pine nuts with local spices. Shells are eaten deep fried as an appetizer or become a main ingredient of traditional dishes.
Kebbeh Saniyeh 

Kebbeh baked in flat round trays in the oven. Two layers of meat mixed with burghul with stuffing in between. Stuffing is made of sauteed meat, onion, roasted pine nuts and local spices.
Kebbeh Sajieh 
Large round stuffed shells grilled on a barbecue
Raw Kebbeh
Kebbeh made with raw minced meat with burghul served fresh
Fish Kebbeh
Kebbeh made with fish
Vegetarian Kebbeh
Kebbeh shells made with mashed pumpkin potato, rice or chickpeas instead of meat.

And recently chicken kebbeh balls have made their way into the numerous varieties.!

Where to eat 
Beirut Tawlet 961 1 448129
Chouf Salim Achkar Guesthouse 961 8 800634
Bekaa Casino Mhanna 961 8 800634
North Ras El Nabeh restaurant 961 6 590118
South Abdel Wahab 961 7 751966

Arabic Ice Cream An ongoing tradition in the East 

The history of ice cream making stretches back centuries and  its evolution has been extensive to become the delicacy we enjoy nowadays. From ice flavored with fruit juices or fruit pulp or frozen milk sweetened with honey., fruits and nuts and thickened with starches, eggs or gums, endless were the combinations and techniques of ice cream making in ancient times. Despite its many evolutions, the traditional preparation of Arabic ice cream can still be found across Lebanon.
The Arab world's connection to ice cream can be traced back to a distant past during the Arab reign ice was brought from Sierra Nevada Mountains around present day Granada.and served as a delicatessen in the court of the Caliphs, the Islamic rulers of Arabic Andalusia. Flavored with fruit juices and sweetened with sugar or honey, it was a sought after refreshment in the midst of the summer heat and was called sherbet, the precursor  word of our current day sorbet. For the Caliphs residing in Damascus, was brought from Hermon to cool milk during the process of ice cream making.
Originally, the rich ice cream was called Qaymaa Al Arab. Arabs have long history of raising cattle and have always been big milk consumers . Freshly collected milk was placed in  containers to cool overnight, after which it was transferred to other containers for heating and pasteurization. Due to the coolness of the night, the inner edges of the original container would be covered with a thick cream lining. Producers would scoop it from the container walls with their hands, forming a shape resembling a cone of cream, hence the nomenclature Qaymaa al Arab, Qaymaa being the diminutive of Qomee or Cone.
Unlike traditional ice cream in Europe, Arabic ice cream is thicker and more elastic. It consists mainly of milk, cream, salep, mastic gum and sugar. The combination of these ingredients produces a rich creamy taste and a gummy texture. Salep powder, extracted from the tuber of a type of orchid, .helps the ice cream thicken and adds flavor. The mastic gum, a resin extracted from the mastic tree, is responsible for the chewiness as well the flavoring of the ice cream.
Bouzet al Da', is a traditional version of Arabic ice cream, the name referring to its manufacturing technique were mastic gum and sugar is then frozen and pounded with a big wooden pestle until it reaches a thick, elastic consistency to this thick mass, cream and pistachio are added. The ice cream is folded into a Swiss roll shape, and coated with more shredded pistachio nuts.

Lebanese cities and villages are abundant with signs of Arabic ice cream shops yet not all are the traditional Bouzet al Da'. though they still take the name Arabic ice cream. A stop at Bouzet Al Nashawati in Khalde, 12 km south of Beirut, sheds light on the details of Arabic making the "The uniqueness of Bouzet Al Nashawati resides in the use of salep powder and mastic gum,' Ghassan Hamad, the store's manager explains. "The difference between the regular Arabic ice cream and Bouzet al Da' lies in the larger quantity of salep and used giving it a thicker consistency and in the  pounding technique, used only in the preparation of Bouzet of Bouzet al Da'". The pounding time and technique which defines the degree of firmness of ice cream and thus its chewiness remains the secret of the ice cream chef.
Founded by Mr. Mohammed al Nashawati in 1920, the Bouzet al Nashawati shop specializes in Bouzet el Da', and produces and distributes all across Lebanon. .
The original and most common flavors of Bouzet al Da' is ashta, or clotted creams, rolled in pistachio nuts The small shop located in Khalde, experiments with unusual mixtures and flavors beyond the basic, such as Bouzet al Da' made with chocolate, rolled in hazelnuts, or an original flavor made with mulberry or strawberry and rolled in pistachio or hazelnut. .For lovers of the regular Arabic ice cream, an array of different flavors can be found such as pistachio, cashew, almonds, hazelnuts and ashta in addition to many fruit flavors with natural fruits used in the making in the fruit ice cream, Al Nashawati does not use milk.
From the coast to the heart of the Bekaa Valley, the village of Saghbine hides a hidden treasure, the small scale ice cream maker, Joseph Masrouaa's Saghbine Natural Ice Cream. He inherited the tradition of ice cream making from his father. Masrouaa is also the local barber and his ice cream shop and barbershop are neighbors. The small ice cream shop, located in the main street of the village, is low key with the simple sign "Saghbine Natural Ice Cream Lemonade".
Saghbine Natural Ice Cream
It's not difficult to get Masrouaa talking about is ice cream making passion. He quickly reveals a fact that sets his ice cream apart from many others, he uses fresh goat's milk from local farmers rather from the milk of cattle to prepare his ice cream, as well as fresh ingredients for his fruit and citrus flavors. as he fills cones of ice cream for tasting the elasticity of the ice cream is visible. "The quality of salep used is key in achieving the desirable consistency of the ice cream," Masrouaa explains. He insists that "the salep from Istanbul is the best".
Masrouaa creates his basic mixture of milk with salep, mastic gum, orange blossom water and sugar. Processed in his ice cream machine, this mixture develops into a milk flavored ice cream with rich, mouth watereing aromas of salep and mastic. To the original recipe he adds fresh blended fruits to create fruit enhanced flavors. Saghbine natural ice cream shop's flavors change with the season's fruits expect everything from almond, milk.chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, honeydew  melon,  waterrmelon, lemon and mulberry. And, his lemonade is as famous as his ice cream and totally worth a try.
Arabic ice cream remains one of the highlights of delicacices the Middle East has to offer, with vibrant flavors that characterize the region such as rose, ashta, pistachio and mulberry. With the summer approaching and the temperatures rising we invite you to hunt out the hidden frozen gems across the country.
Explore the traditional rising small scale ice cream producers form villages to city and taste for yourselves. This ancient tradition is still alive and well in Lebanon and in its taste the food heritage of the past lives on.

Where to taste?

Saghbine Natural Ice Cream
08 670078 Saghbine Village Main Street, Bekaa

Bouza Al Nashawati 
05 801032 - Khalde Highway, Khalde

Al Malek Sweets
01 815007 - Tarik Al Jadide, near Al Makassed Hospital, Beirut
79 157546 - Basta Street, Facing the Police Station
specialized in Arabic sweets and Bouzet el Da' Astha Flavor, using fresh milk, salep, cream and mastic gum

Hanna Mitri
01 322723 - Mar Mitr Street, Achrafieh

Esh'esh El Mina Tripoli
Traditional lemon ice cream

Bouzet Zakaria 
Deftar Plaza (Sahet Deftar) Tripoli

Bouzet Awad
03 301547 - Achkout roundabout, Achkout
open from April to October. Fresh seasonal fruits are used to make the flavors for this traditional Arabic ice cream. Another highlight is the rose water Arabic ice cream, handmade from distilled roses,. They're also well known for their Roulot Ashta, an ice cream made from ashta.

Ya Mal Al Sham
71 874093 - Saida main entrance, Facing Point Center, Saida
The owner, Jalal Abou Al Shamat, of this restaurant cafe makes the traditional Bouzet Da, distinctive for its strong salep flavor.