Touristic Sites

Beirut, with its million-plus inhabitants, conveys a sense of life and energy that is immediately apparent. This dynamism is echoed by the Capital's geographical position: a great promontory jutting into the  blue sea with dramatic mountains rising behind it. A city with a venerable past, 5000 years ago, Beirut was a prosperous town in the Canaanite and the Phoenician coast.
Beirut survived a decade and a half of conflict and so has earned the right to call itself "the City that would not die". As if to demonstrate this resiliency, the Lebanese have launched a great rush of building activity, including the public service infrastructure. In the ruined city center a huge reconstruction project is underway to create a new commercial and residential district for the 21st century. Commerce is the second nature of Beirut. A banking center with free currency exchange, the chief employment here is in trade, banking, construction, import-export and service industries.
Restaurants specializing in Lebanese food offer a chance to sample this well known cuisine at its most authentic. A large selection of foreign restaurants serve dishes from around the world in surroundings as elegant or as cozy as you desire.
Night life in Beirut is non stop. Discos, dinner-dancing, bars and pubs of every variety invite to join the fun.

Beirut Souks
Few shopping areas can boast a heritage that spans thousands of years, but Beirut Souks is not an average mall.
Exotic goods have always been bought and sold at the Souks. Over 3,000 years ago Phoenicians merchants sailed vast distances to trade here. Today's visitors can reap the rewards of an extensive regeneration project which has seen major international traders move to the area, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Tommy Hilfiger, Massino Dutti and Stella McCartney.
The ancient Souks have been transformed into a metropolis of shopping, fine dining, history and culture to rival the best in the world. Now known as Beirut Souks, the area is a network of shopping complexes, outside spaces and pathways peperred with contemporary art which spans 128,000 square meters.
This task of restoring the Souks to its former glory was awarded to a team of international architects including Kevin Dash and Zahia Hadid. Rafael Moneo, who has won the Pritzker Prize, was responsible for transforming the South Souks into a modern retail space. He has incorporated references to the area's rich cultural heritage and the South Souks open with the reconstructured mosque of Imam al-Ouzai at the main entrance.
Moneo's design is a beautiful rendition of what a modern souk should look like, integrating traditional features reminiscent of the old bazaars, says Carole Corm, Beirut correspondent for Monocle magazine.
There is no question this is a stunning place. The surrounding streets built on the ancient Roman grid and the archaeological findings on show only add to the experience.
Souk Arwad over;ooks a medievalwall and moat while restored Byzantine mosaics are integrated into Souk al Franj. The result is a very special atmosphere which marks Beirut Souks out from other global retail destinations and which will establish the Souks as a new cultural monuments.
In addition to striling a balance between a contemporary mall and a site of national heritage, Beirut Souks also aims to bring an East meets West attitude in terms of the brands on offer. The Jewlers' Souk houses international names including Pomellato and Boucheron as well as Lebanese jewellery brands. Yessa
yan for example has been crafting exceptional heavily adorned accoutrements since the late 70s, whikle the streamlined pendants and charm bracelets created by the Mukhi Sisters are a hit with younger audiences.
Beirut Souks is not only a must visit for travellers, but is a superb platform for Lebanon to to be recognised on the world's fashion stage. In an interview with Beirut Daily Star at the opening of the South Souks, designer Elie Saab said "I am very proud of this huge project and Iam very well aware that it will be highly contribute to the prosperity of Lebanon. I have long been waiting for this moment".
In order to compete with other super malls around the world, such as Westfield in London and COEX in Seoul, Beirut Souks has had to ensure that its fine-dining and entertainment outlets are just as alluring as its designer boutiques. Food lovers will not be disappointed by the wide range available: visitors can pause gor Moroccan-French cuisine at Momo at the Souks and enjoy a drink in the evening on the garden terrace. An array of Italian delicacies can be sampled at Cafe M Mozzarella Bar and wine connoisseurs can pick up an exceptional vintage at La Cave de Joel Robuchon.
Elsewhere in the Souks art lovers will find Xavier Corbero sculptures in Bab Idriss Square and the Skyring by Lluis Leo in the affordable fashion hub of Souk Arwam. Music fans can watch a gig at Ajami Square , which recently hosted the Beirut Jazz Festival, and children are catered for at the Planet Discovery science museum.
Despite this vast list of things to see and do, more attractions are on the way. The North Souks Entertainment Complex is set to open by the end of 2012, which will include 14 cinemas along with restaurants, shops and a games arcade. The final phase of development will be a department store designed by Zaha Hadid along with a public square complete with its own impressive fountain.
Perfectly situated within walking distance of Beirut Marina and the hotel district, Beirut Souks is a fresh take on a retail village. It has been thouroughly incorporated into the city's cultural and physical landscape and proves the Phoenician legacy is as alive as if ever was.

Abraham's Shield
That's the meaning of the Hebrew name Maghen Abraham - for the ruined synagogue in the centre of Beirut.
Sadly symbolic now of Beirut's once thriving Jewish community, the synagogue is one of the few unrestored buildings left in the city centre. Overgrown with plants, the roof shattered, all Hebrew writing chiselled away, only the stars of David remain to show what it once was.

Al-Omari Mosque
Originally the Crusader Cathedral of St-John (1113 - 1114 A.D.), the building was transformed into the city's  Grand Mosque by the Mamlukes in 1291. It is one of the oldest intact archeological buildings in Beirut , and it is one of the remains from the age of the Islamic Conquest (Al Fath al Islami) and the early days of Omar Bin Khattab, the second Caliph. It is likely that this Mosque was constructed on the remains of a Byzantine church, a building site chosen by Crusaders, that was later transformed by Moslems into a mosque. Today, this mosque is considered a historic building. It suffered much damage during the civil war but was renovated afterward so that worship could be resumed.

American University of Beirut
American University of Beirut Archaeological Museum 

Nestled in the heart of Beirut, the University's Archaeological Museum acquired its first donated collection in 1868, which marks its opening date. After extensive renovations and a state of the art display refurbishment, the museum reopened in 2006.

The museum provides an exceptional overview of the Near East from the Early Stone Age (5,000 - 3,000 B.C.) through to the Islamic period (7th - 13th A.D.) with archaeological objects collected from Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
The collection comprises of prehistoric tools, pottery artifacts, bronze and terracotta figurines, weapons, gold jewelry and fashion accessories, Phoenician glassware, Hellenistic classical marble sculptures as well as musical instruments.
To really absorb the richness  and history  of the museum'[s collection, one should consider dedicating at least an hour to tour and ideally use the audio guide to help understand the intricacy and historical implications of each artifact.
An additional 10 minutes can be spent browsing through the boutique's collection of Lebanese designer jewelry, replicating the museum's collection, books, and home accessories.
After visiting the University Museum, you might also be tempted to visit the rest of the university's historical campus and beautiful grounds.
"So that they may have Life and have it more abundantly" - this is the motto that's engraved on AUB's main gate, as you walk through it on Bliss Street.
American University of Beirut Archaeological Museum 
In order to get it into AUB, however, you must ask for permission. Upon entering the main gate, you can ask security how that is to be done. You may also, call and ask beforehand, and there are guides that actually rake you around AUB and show you the different departments and landmarks within the university.
Take a camera, some comfortable shoes and be ready to go around one of the best spots in Beirut!

Entrance fee: Free of charge
Opening hours
Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm (winter)
Monday to Friday 10 am - 4 pm (summer)
Closed during weekends, official and AUB holidays

What not to miss
Byblos tomb Pottery - Kamares Vase
The Ford Mandible
Murex and Phoenician Purple Dye
Phoenician Trade and Navigation
Aha female bust from Palmyra
Only during term time (fall and spring)
Regular lectures
Temporary exhibitions

For your kids!
Only during term time (fall and spring)
Special children's programs organized on random Sundays. A special children's library setup within the bookshop

Contact them
AUB Museum - American University of Beirut
Bliss street, Beirut - Lebanon
Tel 961 1 340549 961 1 350000 ext 2660/1

Greek Orthodox Archibishopric
Although the original ornate table in the reception area dates back to 1904, the structure itself is said to be much older. Originally part of the Sursock Palace grounds, the house was donated to the bishopric by the Sursock family when a relative was excommunicated from the church. According to Lady Yvonne Cochrane, who was born into the Sursock family,  her uncle gave the property to the then Archbishop as a kind of appeasement to be reaccepted into the church. The wall that now separates the grounds of the two residencies was added later on.

Hamra: a trendy neighborhood
Hamra street, Beirut
It's probably one of those neighborhoods in the world that enchants visitors for something in its "air",. Most of them even become addicted to it. Residential and business district, Hamra has become, in the last few years, a major Beirut attraction forits restaurants and cafes.
That "air" is of nostalgia for its glorious epoch prior to 1975, which only Lebanese could sense. The traffic is one of the things that never changed. Since early morning hours, cars flow in its narrow streets to the sound of taxis honking. On the pavements are free newspaper kiosks displaying the big headlines of the day.
As much as Hamra is adopting international cafes, pizzerias and restaurants, there are places such as cafe Younes, Maroush and Istambouli......where the taste and smell of the good old days resisted change. Hamra streets 'cafes trottoirs" are as ever on the sidewalks. Their names have changed, but the pleasure of sitting almost shoulder to shoulder with others is still enjoyable.
The neighborhood has always been a center of intellectual activity: universities, ministries, newspapers and art galleries chosen it as their residence. It's also probably the only neighborhood in Lebanon with so many theaters that occasionally open. But Masrah Al Madina is a stage for regular and diverse artistic performances. Music too has its place, mostly jazz with local and international bands at the clubs. Walking along Hamra's streets in the shade of buildings that are far from scraping Beirut's sky is also exploring its nostalgic past. People are helpful, and some have adopted a bohemian style. Often you see local men sitting in the shade, gathering for a coffee to enjoy their timeless neighborhood.

Martyrs' Square
Martyrs' Square Beirut
Martyrs' Square Beirut

Martyrs' Square Beirut
Martyrs' Square Beirut
Martyrs' Square in the heart of Beirut. It overlooks the sea and the Port. But when the snow highlights Mount Sannine, the square refreshes. A statue commemorates the Nationalists who were hanged by the Ottomans in 1916. Bullet holes were left as a remainder of the 1975 war. But the Square was palace's tower built there by Prince Fakhreddine. A bookshop under Al Nahar building keeps the name. But when Catherine II of Russia disembarked military cars in 1772 in that terrain, it was given the name of Canons' Square. With the new Mohammed Al Amine mosque, the Virgin Megastore building with its art Deco style and the big round concrete shell, the square is a fascinating architectural combination.
called Al Bourj 

Monnot street: a charming atmosphere:
Investors are going beyond the neighborhood's history, introducing contemporary lifestyle into the Yassouieh Quarter. It is also called Monnot, after Ambroise Monnot, the Jesuit missionary who built Aint Joseph University in 1875. Located near Beirut City Center, Monnot offers pleasant evenings in its restaurants.
But during daytime, the neighborhood is calm except for a few deliverycars, builders, and restaurant staff.
Explore Monnot on foot and discover its charactereristics. When Jesuit missionaries settled in what was a quiet terrain overlooking the Mediterranean, the neighborhood was slowly urbanized. Look for the dead end streets, where often traditional houses with red tiled roofs and three aeches became a small building in the early 20th century. The French Mandate architecture is also present, often with oriental elements.
Walking along the neighborhood streets is an opportunity to discover traditional shops. The butcher is still there as well as the grocers, the men's shirt tailor and the young baker. Edward Shehwan repairs TV sets, and Diran Ferechtian, like his father, still makes beautiful lampshades. Most of them have been there in Monnot neighborhood ever since they moved in some 40 years ago.
For the feel of a real urban cultural evening, see the agenda for Monnot Theater programs. The Bibliotheque Orientale is located next to the Jesuits Father's residence as. There too is Musee de la Prehistoire, with its exceptional collection of prehistory tools.
A few steps away, the  Jesuits sell their freshly produced dairy products from their Taanayel Convent in Bekaa Valley. A visit of Monnot Domaine des Tourelles winery boutique is an opportunity to taste the elegant Bekaa wine. The neighborhood is changing but its early 20th century atmosphere persists.

Saifi village
Beirut, Saifi Village

A village within the city, Saifi Village is the place for art and design lovers. As you stroll down its streets, you will admire its harmonious facades and its model architectural restoration and preservation. Replicating oriental art or art deco its buildings host a variety of shops by Beirut's most prominent designers and art galleries that showcase  the best of Beirut's artistic flair and taste.
Check out Alwanes's latest exhibition or treat yourself to a high end leather bag from Johnny Farah. If it is tradition you are looking for Assila will treat you to some very special local artisanat.
Y knot will anything you desire while Bokja will offer you a twist on traditional designs. Nada Debs gives furniture an oriental modern twist while Starch houses the best in the country's young upcoming fashion and jewelry designers.
Whether you walk outside or you step inside the shops you are sure to feel the art all around. Feeling hungry ? Saifi Village is home to many food outlets. Balima's terrace  is a perfect place for a bite and a sip of wine. Walk a little further down and will catch La Posta Gourmet where you can find best homemade limoncello in town not to mention Flora for Italian cooking like mama makes. For a it fo glitz there is always Burgundy and the new kid on the block, Gilt.

Getting there
Saifi Village is loxated in the heart of the Beirut Central District, facing Martyr's Square.

Saint George - Beirut's oldest church
The church built in 1767 on the site of a much  older older, was very badly damaged during the war and stood derelict for many years. Now fully restored it is the most moving testament to the agony of those years. At first glance it looks as through everything that was there before has been replaced just as it was before - and it has, but there has been no attempt to make the new look old. Icons that were lost are replaced by modern photo images of those that were lost; next to the worn survivors of the original; smooth new flooring joins seamlessly into the mosaic of the old floor. Most of all, it is the frescoes on the walls that move you almost to tears - new white plaster fills the spaces between what remains of the old images where walls were blasted away. Bullet holes have not been filled. The past is here, acknowledged, forgiven, but not forgotten. The quiet grace with which it has all been done is truly beautiful.

Sursock Museum

Sursock Palace
Sursock Palace
Originally built in the 1860s, Sursock Palace is now the residence of its original owner's granddaughter, Lady Cochrane, who inherited it at the age of two,. Of all the Sursock residences, it is the largest and the only one to retain its pristine glory, due to the renovation efforts of the family.
The house, designed as one large rectangular structure, was built by master buildings in the traditional Lebanese style of architecture, according to Giorgio Tarraf of the Save Beirut Heritage foundation. A double flight of white marble stairs leads to the main entrance on the south facade and after passing through the grand doors there is an uninterrupted view of the entire 35-meter length of the great hall.
The doors that open into the grand salon and dining room (along with the entrance ) are from the XVII century and were brought from Naples. Naples. On the south  side of the door leading to he dinning room, the walls are lined with collections of Italian paintings from the 16th and17th centuries originally housed in the Palazzo Serra di Cassano in Naples., the home of Lady Cochrane's maternal grandfather, the Duke of Cassano.
The library is Lady Cochrane's private sitting room and is paneled in mahogany. It features a large portrait of Madame Isabelle Bustros (born Sursock) by French painter Bordes. Madame Bustros was the aunt of Lady Cochrane and having exercised great influence not only within the Sursock family, but also socially and politically within Lebanon.

Sursock Street
Located in the Achrafieh district of Beirut, Sursock street is one of the city's most historic neighborhoods . Once a 'humble' weekend getaway for a few of Beirut's most prominent families, namely the Sursocks, Bustros' and Feghalis', today the 18th and 19th centuries mansions are few and far between. A handful of impressive villas and palaces though still remain, leaving a hint of the glorios past that once dominated the area and one that begs to be discovered with a self guided tour

Zoqaq el Blat: wonderfully authentic
The quarter is located to the eastern side of the Grand Serail. The Ring Bridge divides it into two: the renovated neighborhood with Robert Moawad Private Museum on one side, and across the bridge, the the original authentic section where many buildings were left abondoned.
Zoqaa el Blat is a neighborhood where life goes on at a pace that seems to be slower than any other Beirut residential district. Palaces, villas and grand residences were built during the 30's and 50's as intellectuals moved in. The neighborhood was the center of the Lebanese social cultural renaissance. The locals nostalgically remember their names and their palaces.
It was the first neighborhood in Beirut to have a paved road in the 1860's, hence its name. Time and the 1975 war have left their impact on the buildings. Yet the architecture remains something to admire. Look carefully at the old balconnies and verandas; the ramps consist of small columns or are built in art deco style. Others are of wrought iron.
The neighborhood is slightly uphilll, a refreshing breeze from the sea fills the air. Zoqaq el Blat embodies Beirut's authentic charm. The sumac trees grew in the abondoned gardens and often hide beautiful architectural elements. Follow Hussein Beyhum Street; the sidewalk is narrow and shaded. A stop at Ichkhanian traditional bakery is imperative. The Armenian community is present with its culinary culture featuring famous boerek and manteh - dough prepared with cheese or meat - a real delight!
Strolling downhill, admire the old doorways and window pediments. A few meters away is a carpenter's vaulted ceiling workshop. Inside, feel the atmosphere of the remote past; it simply postpones the passing of time. In fact all Zoqaq el Blat's neighborhoods hold the splendor of an epoch.

Bourj Hammoud:  a colourful place
The presence of a sustainable Armenian community in that northern Beirut suburb has surely made all the difference. But Bourj Hammoud has more to offer than renowned talented craftsmen and succulent Armenian food.

National Museum 
Beirut National Museum

The national collection of the museum was scattered every where in the world during the war. To day the officials have regrouped again these treasures which are on display to the public.
The collections of this private museum present the middle oriental cultures of the Prehistory till a recent past (about 10,000 objects and as many coins).
Veteran tour guide Antonia Kanaan takes a group around one of Beirut's most iconic tourist sites, the National Museum. With a career that spans over four decades, Kanaan must have guided visitors around the museum's historic collection hundreds  of times and yet she still does it with sparks of enthusiasm. Today she arranges a special visit to an unfinished and rarely seen section of the museum, leading the group through a darkened basement to a row of enormous sleeping stone figures, the museum's resident tombs.
Originally from Bulgaria Kanaan moved to Lebanon in the late '60s  and her deep connection to the country is obvious. She was one of the first to take the Ministry of Tourism's two-year tourism course back in 1971, inspired to delve deep into the history and culture of her adopted country to know the Middle East, because everything was new to me, she says. "I never imagined it would eventually become a job for me."
The course brought in some of the highest caliber teachers, from a University of Sorbonne history of art academic to the renowned Lebanese archaeologist and director of the national Museum Maurice Chehab head curator of the National Museum for over three decades. Chehab, who passed away in 1994, once guided Kanaan and her colleagues  around the museum, and now as she guides visitors around the same collection the room dedicated to mosaics is named in his memory Kanaaan also teaches the next generation, giving "Cultural Heritage of Tourism" courses at Saint Joseph University (USI) in Beirut.
In the early '70s. Kanaan would give tours by special request to visiting VIPs, before her relatively new career tool an unexpected direction with the advent  of the civil war in 1975. " The war started and there were no more tourists. I stopped work as a normal touristic guide but from time to  time, during short periods of peace, I would show delegations from abroad around," she says. " I guided a lot of journalists during the war.  I had to know what was happening with the fighting and change my way of seeing things."
It wasn't until the '90s that the tourism industry regained some normality, but despite the country's current instability taking its impact on tourism, she's noticed things significantly improve since those early days. "From the mid '90s onwards was a very good period. The hotels, roads and the the guides improved. things got better, we're much better now."
Kanaan remains in love with all  of Lebanon' iconic sites and still enjoys guiding around Baalbeck, Byblos, Tyre and Sidon. "All over Lebanon there is something interesting. It's a small country but there is a lot of diversity. even Tripoli has a completely different spirit," she says.
For Kanaan, the most engaging side to tour guiding is the connection with people. "You give a lot, but you take a lot too. Guiding is interactive, you really meet lots of interesting  people." she says. Later, while sitting in in an Achrafieh cafe, Kanaaan brings out a pile of thank you letters from the diverse groups of tourists she's guided over the years, from the wife of the owner of Bank Audi, to visiting academics. The interests of her tourists and culture buffs to those on a hunt for theological landmarks. "I couldn't have a job in a bank working within the same four walls. I'm in the open air with people. It's a kind of liberation in a way," she says.
Though Kanaan knows Lebanon's touristic sites as well as the back of her hand, her thirst for knowledge is endless. For her, it's essential to "always remember, read something new and be up to date."  Till today, Kanaan continues to discover new sites such as the recently restored 12th and 13th century churches in the mountains above Batroun and their rich intricate frescos.
From tales of guiding during the war, to touring with a group of pilgrims to visit Saint Charbel after recovery of a woman's dying husband, Kanaan's numerous stories are deeply engrained in Lebanon's rich cultural and historical tapestry."  i have so many interesting stories, maybe I should start to put them on paper."
Call ahead to organize a tour in Lebanon with Antonia Kanaaan (961 1 201399).

Roman Baths
Behind Bank street are the remains of the Roman baths which once served the city's population. Originally discovered in 1968 - 69, it underwent a thorough cleaning and further excavation in 1995 - 1997.

Zawiyat Ibn al Arraq
Built in 1517 by Mohammed Ibn al Arraq ad Dimashqi, this building was originally an Islamic law school and continued as an Islamic sanctuary into late Ottoman times. It was rediscovered during the post war clean up process in 1991.

Amir Assaf Mosque
Also called Bab es Saray Mosque, this was built by Emir Mansour Assaf (1572 - 1580) on the site of the Byzantine church of the Holy Savior.

Amir Munzer Mosque
Located opposite the Municipal building, the Amir Munzer Mosque was built in 1620 on an earlier structure. Also called Naoufara Mosque.

Majidiyeh Mosque
This mosque was constructed in the mid 19th century and named after the Ottoman Sultan Abdel Majid I (1839 - 1861).

Zaitunay Bay
Avenue des Francais shoreline walk with its wide, palm-lined, seaside street became crowded with hotels, cafe cinema and restaurants.
In 1932, the legendary Hotel St Georges was built on Avenue des Francais, facing Saint Georges Bay. It was followed by the Hotel Normandy, adding to prestige of the thoroughfare. One of the landmarks of the avenue, was Lucullus, a French restaurant that was situated between Hotel Normandy and the Hotel Bassoul. The restaurant was famous for its bouillabaise on Fridays.
Later on many hotels were built comprising the Holiday Inn, Phoenicia, Melkart, Palm Beach, Exelsior, Hilton and Alcazar Hotel. And the number of hotels on Avenue des Francais nearly doubled during the 60's and 70's.
In 1975, the Lebanese civil war began, and ironically a famous battle happened there, the battle of the Hotels. The avenue became buried by a landfill of garbage referred to as the Normandy dump after the legendary hotel that existed on the avenue prior to the war.
Due to the landfill, which extended the land by more than 600 m to the north, the original coastline no longer existed and with it the avenue was lost
After the war, Solidere, the company in charge of planning and redevelopping Beirut Central District, engaged Gustafson Porter to create The Shoreline Walk, a pedestrian promenade that traced the line of the original coastline that was lost during the war.
In addition to the pedestrian promenade, the Shoreline Walk includes five open space squares and gardens: Harbor Square, All Saints Square. Zeytouneh Square, Santieh Garden and Shoreline Gardens which was on the site of the historic Avenue des Francais.
Beirut vivaciuos city has become renowned of late for its non-stop nightlife. The town is full of international restaurants and cafe spots. The night may begin in one of the many restaurants dotted around Zaitounay Bay, a hot spot area for all seeking an eclectic experience. So make sure you're ready for a long night to see in the dawn in Zaitunay Bay.
Zaitunay Bay is the new waterfront attraction of Beirut, situated on the emplacement of Avenue des Francais. A must see destination offering an array of various cultural leisure and social activities which will finally bring back those faded photographs of Lebanod away. Bullet holes have not been filled. The past is here, acknowledged, forgiven, but not forgotten. The quiet grace with which it has all been done is truly beautiful.

Zaitunay Bay offers a number of palettes, a wide variety of places to sit down and grab a bite to eat or simply, people watch. Zaitunay Bay will epitomize the culture, luxury and quality or life that Beirut has to offer.
Zaitunay Bay creates an all long environment, bringing together both the public and private spaces including an exclusive yacht club, retail shops and a variety of restaurants each with outdoor seating.

St George's Bay
The great martyr St Georges was the son of wealthy and pious parents, who raised him in the Christian faith.
He was born in the city of Beirut at the foot of the Lebanese mountains, On icons, St Georges is depicted sitting on a white horse and smiting a dragon with a spear. It is said that not far from the place where Saint George was born in the city of Beirut, in a lake lived a dragon which frequently devoured people of that city. What kind of beast that was, a python, crocodile or large lizard is not known.
In order to appease the wrath of that dragon, the superstituous inhabitants of that city began regularly by lot to give up to it a youth or girl to be eaten. Once the lot fell on the daughter of the ruler of that locale. They took her to the shore of the lake and tied her up where she began to await in terror the apearance of the dragon. When the beast began to approach her, suddenly a radiant youth appeared on a white horse who smote the dragon with a spear and saved the girl.
This youth was the holy great martyr St Georges. By such a miraculous appearance, it is said that the inhabitants of Beirut converted into Christianity, who until then were pagans. According to legend, the St Georges Bay is where  St. Georges slew the dragon. and that afterwards St Georges washed his hands in the water of the bay.
St. Georges Bay is nowadays Zaitunay Bay.

Beirut - Sun, Sand and Sea
In Beirut you don;t have to go far to take a dip in the Mediterranean. The capital is privileged to have access to the sea, and several hotels and resorts will make your stay an unforgettable one.

Coral Beach 961 1 859000
Not only a wonderful place to stay on the marvelous Lebanese Mediterranean coast, but also a great place to tan overlooking the sea. With its swimming pools and access to the sea itself, the Coral Beach Hotel is an ideal no fuss no thrills to relax.

La Plage 961 1 366222
Get a tan while you rest on one of their comfortable beds, enjoy a poolside rose and the company of a few ......La Plage has one f the best restaurants on Beirut  with its own harbor where jet setters anchor their yachts to grab a bite.

Ramlet el Bayda
In one of the most expensive areas of the city, lays one of the very few public beaches in the city. On this beautiful sandy shore, you can enjoy a simple beach experience, where you bring your own  chair towel  and food.

Riviera Beach Lounge 961 1 373210
Bask in the luxury of Beach Lounge at Riviera Hotel and daydream the hours away. With a stylish main pool with its own in-water bar, a loved family pool area. a floating island and cocoon like bungalow,. the Riviera Beach lounge is sure to lead you through a luxuriously memorable experience.  

Saint Georges 961 1  365065
 A must visit for locals and tourists alike. Just in Beirut's glory dates. Saint Georges is the place to see and be seen. where you will meet the trendiest people in the city and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean

Sporting 961 1 742481
This private beach club offers a beautiful relaxing experience on the shores of the Mediterranean. Those who do not like the sea can take a dip in the pool, while kids can splash around in their own pool. It is a favorite spot for the locals! Ask about their night scene with weekly beach parties.

Rooftop bars
Nothing says summer like the re-opening of the rooftop bars. And, there, are plenty of choices to fit all jet setters and party-goers. Rooftop bars are the perfect solution for an urban party in the outdoors, with breathtaking views of the of the city. Take your pick from the list below  and have a blast! Make sure to reserve to reserve your spot!
Cherry on the Rooftop Le Gray Hotel 961 1 972000
Coop D'Etat Saifi Urban Gardens 961 71 134173
Fly Opera Building 961 1 999777 ------ 961 3 030340
Iris An Nahar Building 961 3 090936
Le Capitole Asseily Building 961 1 999339 ----- 961 70 302402
Pier 7 Seaside Road 961 70 697777
Sky Bar BIEL 961 3 939191
Square Movenpick Hotel & Resort Hotel 961 1 799501
Sun 7 Palm Beach Hotel 961 79 100606
The Roof Four Seasons Hotel 961 1 761000 ----- 961 1 761555
White Beirut Seaside Road 961 3 060090

Live Music
And as far as live music is concerned, Beirut known as it ll too well! Scattered around the capital, cafes and night clubs offer a unique blend of love performances to suit all tastes and moods.

Al Mandaloun 961 1 565333
What seems o have started it all  in the trendy Mar Mikhael  district, Al Mandaloun's impressive design and first rate lineup  of performers has redefined the nightlife experience in the area. Located inside an old theater that now resembles a modern train station, it is ideal for a fabulous nigh out with friends that will probably go until the wee hours of the morning.

Blue Note Cafe 961 3 743857
A classic place for Beiruties, Blue Note Cafe has hosted talents from Llebanon and the would. With  old school charm and food made the traditional way, Blue Note Cafe is the place to go for  a good bite, good drinks and excellent music.

DRM 961 1 752202
The Democratic Republic of Music (DRM) is a concept lounge in the heart of the Hamra district of Beirut. It is the destination of choice in Lebanon for musicians from the Middle East and for touring musicians on the international scene.

Metro Madina 961 1 753021
A cafe-bar with a subway station flare, DJ Booth and a hall, where all the varied concerts and cultural events happen, Metro Madina is two places in one. With its own Cabaret Show and various live performances, you will see Beirut under a new light at Metro Madina.

Music Hall 961 1 361236 
A staple in the Lebanese nightlife. Music Hall will offer you a night like no other . Acts of various musical genres follow each other on its impressive stage, while the DJ raises the roof during intermission. One thin for sure, you will never stop dancing ! Open Thursday to Saturday.

Razz Jazz 961 1 366246
Jazz lovers, this is the place for you. All week, Razz jazz on Clemenceau street hosts the local and international jazz talents for all to enjoy. Whether you are into classic, electronic or oriental jazz, you are sure to find your fix at Razz jazz.

Walimat Warde 961 1 752320 
A quaint little  cafe in  Hamra,  Walima  Warde is the place where you can discover new local talents in  various styles. And the food is good too, prepared by Warde herself.

10 Summer Destinations
As the countryside landscapes come to life, with plants and flowers in full blossom, it's the nsummer months tat are best for exploring the rich nature that Lebanon has to offer.

1 - Jabal Moussa
Located in the region of Keserwan - Jbail, Jabal Moussa was recognized as the third biosphere in Lebanon in 2009, as part of the UNESCO Network of Biosphere Reserves under Man & Biosphere (MAB) program. the area is a  huge stretch of natural beauty including villages such as Yacchouch, Ghbeleh, Qehmez, Ain el Delbeh and Chouwan. The vast landscape is richly diverse and its mixture  of ecological systems gives life to a variety of species of plants and animals, hence it becomes an important research site. The Biosphere Reserve organizes hikes through the reserve and the tours take a responsible  tourism approach including lunch prepared by the local community in Mchati and an overnight stay in the local Dimitriades Guesthouse (71 307301)  in Ghbeleh Village. Jabal Moussa Ecotourism Manager Christele Abou Chabke can book the hikes, a local guide and lunch ( 71 944405 - 09 643464

2 - Tour by bike
Cycling Circle (03 126675, Facebook group cyclingcircleLB) was founded by Karim Sokhn in 2011, to unite cycling enthusiasts and provide a platform from which to enjoy Lebanon by bike. "I set up Cycling Circle because there was a need for cyclists to come together. It's a growing culture in Lebanon," he says.
The groups double up as a social awareness movement, with the ambition that the humble bike can  bring positive.  Their recent event change, the Baskil Bicycle Festival showed the potential of bicycles to alter the landscape of the city Their weekly night rides around Beirut offer a different perspective to the city and the chance to join other like minded cyclists.

3 - Alternative lodgings in rural Lebanon
DHIAFEE Program first established in 20006 by ANERA  is a platform that raises awareness on alternative tourism lodging in Lebanon, off the tourist map.This year, ANERA launched the "Support to Rural Hospitality Businesses in Lebanon" project with funding from USAID, to help develop rural hospitality business. "In spite of a rich variety of tourism sites throughout Lebanon, their was a gap of awareness regarding the existence of rural hospitality businesses," says the DHIAFEE Program's Maysoun Korban. "The DHIAFEE Program established this network, which increased economic opportunities in rural communities and improved the tourism sector."
A variety of beautiful guesthouses are spread across Lebanon, under the project that offers the authentic rural experience, it's an oppportunity to explore track at a low cost, while practikcing responsible tourism with guewsthouses available everywhere from Qpbayat in the North, to Nabatyeh in the South
ANERA will be  present at the travel Lebanon event. Garden Sow at the Show & Spring

4 - Well-Being Weekend
Beautiful unspoiled forests, dramatic cliffs and deep valleys characterize Ehmej, making it the perfect location for Well-Being Weekends, it offers a return to the authenticity of the Lebanese village, combined with pampering, relaxation and life coaching. You'll get the chance to breathe in the rich scents of the local flora, learn the distillation techniques of aromatic plants and flowers, discover local bee hives, hidden within ancient oaks and feast on nature's harvest. There are a variety of day programs on offer, through Encounter With the Wild (120,000 LBP) you'll explore the local flora species with a guide, and be introduced to aromatherapy. Bees and Hives (90,000 LBP) offers a a field workshop with apiarist  and bees. Other day packages include Customized Perfume and its Itemization (180,000 LBP) and Jam Making and Fragrances (112,500 LBP) including a jam making workshop from a secret local recipe.
Well-Being Lounge 71 714248 

5 - Summer holiday in the great outdoors 
Peaks Resort 09 333311 is a unique concept nestled in the foothills of Feytroun, Keserwan, at 1,300 foothills of Feytroun, that are the perfect cooling summer retreat. "The resort is spread across 110,000 sqm of land, full of pines, apple and cherry trees, lavender and a truly wild landscape," describes owner Paul Ariss. During July and August they dedicate a summer program to families and children aged 8-14 with 12 day summer camps. Kids can enjoy adventurous activities in the heart of the countryside, trying their hand at everything from hiking, mountain biking, rapelling, climbing, archery, and badminton and even tackle the the high rope course and zip line. For the football crazy, Peaks Resort also lost football camps with Emile Rustom, who has over 25 years of football training. *-14 years old can learn the basics of football, fine tune their techniques and enjoy football training in the great outdoors.

6 - An escape to the mountains of Keserwan
Less than 44 km from Beirut, it's easy to disconnect from city life and immerse yourself in nature and history, following the new Trail of Wadi ell Salib. The trail that stretches over 4 km takes you back to the ruins of the old village where the ancient agrarian community, between villages of Kfardebian, Feytroun and Qlay'aat, Daraya, used to live. The abundance of water from the high mountains of Kfardebian that streams through Wadi el Salib River encouraged the development of an old village and plantation terraces with many water mills and presses.During a two to three hour hike you can discover what's left of the village landmarks an  old Ottoman bridge, ruins of old mills and grape presses, along with the crumbling remains of a silk factory and churches. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy rappelling, rock climbing and soon archery and Tyrolean traverse. The Heritage and Culture Association have created a trail and a picnic area and three ancient houses have been rehabilitated into guesthouses. Stay in Auberge Beity Kfardebian (03 214871) and while in the area sample local produce at Atyeb Kfardebian, Samira Zgheib ()3 845257). For the local experience take guides Nassib Akiki (03 386639), Naim Mehanna (70 941573) or Charbel Sfeir (03 473718)

7 - Religious sites of Tannourine
With 18 different religious communities in Lebanon, religious icons, monuments and sites dots its lands. Tannourine counts more than 26 religious sites including the Monastery of Saint Anthony the Great in Wata Houb and Saydet Harissa and the Crusader church of Mar Challita in Tannourine Fawka, where the Saint is honored an annual feast on august 10.
Tannourine is rich in rocky chapel caves like the Qadisha's Valley Hermitage of Saint Serge with the remains of medieval frescos in Wata houb. There is Saydet El Bzaz (Our Lady of the Breast) or Saydet el Chir (Our Lady of the Cliff), the Convent of Mar Doumit and the monastery and the monastery in the middle of Mar Yaacoub  (Saint Jacques) in Tannourine Tahta, only accessible to cavers and climbers. NEOS (03  733818 can arrange tours to Lebanon's religious sites.

8 - Rural routes
Think of Byblos and Batroun and the ancient cities and their historical ruins come to mind, but the rural region has a rich history that stretches back centuries. It has been home to numerous passing civilizations and their presence is still visible in a region dotted with archaeological sites. The Association for Lebanese development and Culture (ALDEC) was initiated in 2009 to help sustainable development here
El Kherbe Haqel is just one of many villages to visit. The area is ripe with fossils, which can be seen in Haqel Museum (Rizkallah Nohra, 03 7082870. Take local guide Elham Achkouty (09 770776) to discover the area including Sassine Church (St Sisinus), situated next to the oldest oak trees in Lebanon You can even extract fossils in the quarry with tool rental from Linda Nohra Haklany  (03 604969). An online brochure 

9 - Tour of the shepherds
It's easy to be envious of the life of a shepherd, spending endless days connected to nature with time to philosophize while leading the flock. It's a seemingly pure, simple existence,  and a tranquil one, spending life with nothing but the sounds of sheep and the wind through the trees. 33 North organize the unique tour, "Experience Unforgettable Moments With The Shepherds" between June and October to sample the shepherd's life and and spend a weekend in beautiful landscapes. The tour starts with a night camping in Bedouin tents and eating dinner with shepherds of Mnaitra Plateau, it's a chance to to experience the nomadic way of life and explore Bedouin traditions. After rising and a breakfast with the shepherds, there's a 20 km hike along the highland  trails from Ouyoun Es Simane, Mnaitra to Akoura where a rural lunch stop awaits in local guesthouse. The cost for groups of 5-10 LBP 420,000; 11-15 LBP 375,000 includes transportation, all meals, 33 North mountain leader and insurance.
33 North  03 454996 - 71 33138

10 - Summer festivals beyond Beirut
Away from the prestigious big players of the festival world in Lebanon, during summer months rural regions and smaller towns also come alive, with most municipalities holding a festival to mark the summer months, Hammana Cherry Festival, organized by Hammana Municipality and Souk El Tayeb, will take place this summer This year, from July 10 - 12,Beit Misk, presents Summer Misk (01 212121). Dbayeh Summer Festival (03 800449) is held in mid July, a small scale family oriented festival on the waterfront. In Byblos at the Second Street Book Market you can buy, sell and even exchange books (09 542020, June 7 - 8, July 5 - 6, 10 am - 9 pm). Douma Festival (01 349036) takes place from mid July to mid August. The Ehdeniyat International Festival (06 664466 ) features music concerts and family activities from July 25 - August 22. The Mzaar Summer Festival (04 521061, August 13 - 17) features an impressive fireworks display on the 14, an exhibition with artisans and daily entertainment.

10 things to in Akkar
Top ten in North Lebanon's Akkar region, where ancient history and rich rural landscapes fuse together

1 - Biking through Akkar
Discover Akkar's coastal strip by bike, on flat internal roads that stretch over a distance of 41km, meet local Bedouins, visit salt extraction sites and horse farms, and pass by the Ostwane and Arka rivers, lined with old bridges along the Lebanese Syrian border.

2 - Qobayat 
Qobayat, located 140 km north of Beirut, is the biggest Christian village in the Akkar region and worth a visit. Qobayat's Scientific Permanent Museum for Animals, Birds and Butterflies (Couvent St Doumit Des Peres Carmes, Qobayat, 06 350004 ) has amassed an impressive collection of 161 bird and 23 animal species from Lebanon, along with an encyclopedic 4,000 strong butterfly collection, from all over the world. The town's long abandoned silk factory, which closed its doors 1958, and the mansion of the Daher Family are fine testaments to the traditional architecture of the area. The welcoming Jabalna Ecolodge (Georges Karam 03 542935) is located in a picturesque pine forest. It's a tranquil escape away from the dust and grind of the city, offering some respite for nature lovers in the area a wide range of of outdoor activities are available from hiking and biking to winter snowshoeing when the snow sets in. For delicious food  and generous hospitality stop by Hatbe wa Nar restaurant (Tony Antoun 03 758798).

3 - Discover hiking trails delineated by students
J'aime ma Foret was launched by Mada Association ( ) and 33 Norh to bring students from Meshmesh public school on board to delineate hiking trails that highlight the natural capital of the area. More than six trails of different levels and distances await exploration through the rich scenery, with the help of guides from local environmental association, Baldati Biaati. Local guide, Nazih Qamaredine, 03 335538

4 - Aarqa

10 Things to do in Anfeh & Balamand
Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary visit to escape the city grind? Then head up to the hills of the north to discover the hidden secrets of Balamand. And, on your return, stop at the coastal village of Anfeh to explore its historical marvels.

1- Ethnography and Historical Museum 
Since opening in 1988, the University of Balamand (06 930250) has evolved into one of Lebanon's top universities. The vast 454.000m2 campus overlook the Mediterranean, surrounded by luscious olive and oak trees, and encompasses nine faculties and a dozen research centers. Though the aromatic scents of nature might capture your imagination, the achievements of the university are equally overwhelming. The university has developed high caliber programs that are both challenging and competitive, such as the fascinating Ethnography and Historical Museum (06 930250 for guided tour with Samer Amhaz and Raya Dagher). Previously home to farm animals, today the "Goat House" documents a narrative of rural life in the region. Founded by the Orthodox Church, this once theological orientated university has modernized into a renowned center of learning and a hub for the preservation of the area's heritage.

2- Pay a visit to the monks  
For 850 years, the Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery (06 930311, Al Kurah, North Lebanon) has majestically stood atop a 200 meter cliff with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean. Located 16km southeast of Tripoli, the monastery was built by monks during the Crusader period around 1157. Years later it was abondoned and in ruins, only to be rebuilt again in the 17th century by Greek Othodox monks. Architecturally. the structure of the monastery is impressive and like all other Cistercian abbeys it features a central courtyard surrounded beauty  by a portico Framed by the breathtaking beauty of the coastal plell inside the monastery's walls the silence resonates with only the occasional. soundtrack of undetected birds in flight. The library is also not to be missed, it features important religious icons and endless manuscripts (special permissions required for viewing.) For a guided tour of the monastery , call ahead of time.

3 - Ancient frescos
The 900 years old Deir El Natour Monastery stands on the cape of Al Natour. Surrounded by fields of a myrtle plant and endless rows of salt marshes, this small simple church hides within its walls incredible treasures that date back to the Byzntine Empire. The church was recently excavated and renovated bny University of Balamand to protect historical finds. Beautiful frescos adorn its walls and ceilings, retelling ancient religious stories in detailed brush strokes. After a tour of the church, climb the stairs for some of the best views in the country an unobstructed vision of the waves crashing onto the rocky shore. Although you can't call ahead, Sister Catherine is usually on site and will happily guide you through the monastery.

4 - Stroll through the port
Small and quaint, Anfeh Port is filled with small fishing boats, revealing the main trade of the area. Small blue and white shacks line the rocky beach, and bring to mind images of Greece. Each family in the village owns a hut and their own private fishing abode. Maintaining the hospitable traditions of the past visitors are likely to be welcomed in with an "Ahlan wah Sahlan!"

5 - Anfeh's historic churches 
Seemingly untouched by the modern world, the haphazardly built huts in Anfeh village stand next to historically signification to generation. there's nothing like a local to guide you around, and Hafiz Jreish (03 540215, 06 541561) is an advocate for the conservation of Anfeh's traditions. Visit the Church of the Lady of the Wind, one of the oldest  churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary. built in the Byzantine era, the building's layers reveal the many civilizations that once called it home. The south wall frescoes show a depiction of the Virgin Mary calming a storm. Sailors from the village originally built the chapel in her honor. Pass by the 12th century Church of Saint Catherine, the country's only remaining Romanesque church. Next, go down a few steps and admire the two Byzantine Churches of Saint Simeon and the Archangel Gabriel. Don't miss the elementary sound-proofing imbedded jars used to reduce noise in the church.

6 - The remains of a once grand fort
Once upon a crusader's time, a majestic fort rested precariously at the edge of a rocky mound on the Anfeh peninsula, now known by locals as Rass Amfeh. 
Anfeh fort and Trench was considered the greatest and most fortified in the Levant, once featuring twelve towers and two trenches, separating it from the mainland.. When the Mamluk army conquered the lords of Tripoli, the castle was destroyed and nothing remained but one solitary rock pillar. The fort had two  seawater filled moats that separated the fort from the mainland. Dried up and abandoned, the trenches have lost their imposing purpose as protective measures against invaders. one buried under centuries of rubble and damage, the other named "Al Khandaq" is still visible, but only a dry shadow of its former role. Civilizations have passed through this land, but only a small imprint of their presence remains. Nevertheless, sitting at the top end of peninsula, where the Citadel once grandiosely stood, you feel the weight of history as the northern winds pass.

7 - Ghost filled chambers
Hanging over the rocky port of Anfeh's are a series of stone engravings and caves dug into the bedrock. Rocky stairwys, tomb-like holes and louses cut into the stones, speak of an abandoned town. Villagers still advise against entering these chambers, as ghosts of the past are thought to haunt its crevices.

8 - Salt of the land
Looking for a gold rush? The "white gold" that stretches the length of Anfeh Bay should satisfy. Ancient tablets dating from 14000 BC describe the superior quality of Anfeh salt, once extracted through salinas, carved ponds in the coastal rocks that filled with salt water. After evaporation by sun and wind, the salt crystals gathered and  were transported by caravan. Centuries later, Anfeh's salt marshes remain an economic resources for its residents. In 1995, windmills and terraces received funding for renovations, yet they still in need of further repair.

9 - Dinosaur relics
If you think you've seen it all, think again. Girgi Sessine (03 695181) will guide you to the edge of Anfeh where according to him, the shore reached the highway some 100,000 years ago.When the sea receded, prehistoric caves were discovered. Although we cannot vouch for its scientific validity, the fissure cave still gives you goose bumps while imagining it's ancient past. There, Sassine displays various marine fossils. animal skeletons, and even its latest resident's boots. The limestone cave has a fissure in its ceiling letting light sneak through. Adjacent is Layla's Cave, not named after some early cave woman, but its modern day resident, Layla, who, is happy to guide you around it is near impossible to discover the 50 or so caves in Anfeh without guidance, so call ahead of time for a tour that is certainly out of the ordinary.

10 - Arguileh on the seafront
There are few restaurants in Anfeh, so prepare a picnic basket and head for the beach, though no doubt you'll be invited for a BBQ and arguileh from a local or two. The unbelievably clear water, perhaps the cleanest in Lebanon, calls out for a dip.

Where to eat
George Dayaah, 120,000 LBP for two, opening hours: Mon-Sat 12.30 p.m. 10:00 p.m.; Sun 12.30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 03 127603 Though the fish shack serving seafood and mezze is shabby in appearance, it's well known and visited by the locals

Where to sleep
Las Salinas Resort, high season starting 207,000 LBP included breakfast, double 06 540970
Rahif Dreik Guesthouse 06 541306

Go with a guide Girgi Sessine 03 695181

How to get there
Take the highway north out of Beirut following signs for Tripoli, take a right turn off the highway at Chekka, signpost Anfeh, follow the ascent towards Balamand

Aamiq (Al Chouf Distance from Beirut 45 km)
The name Aamiq, which has its origin in the old Semitic tongue, means "the low and deep". Located in the Manasif Al Chouf, the town overlooks the Damour river valley, separating the Chouf from Aley. The Aamiq - Rechmaya road. linking these two areas, passes through the Rechmaya valley, where the Barouk and Abou Zebleh rivers meet to form the Damour river.
A convent bearing the name of the Angel Mikhael, which dates back to the early 18th century and is used as a spiritual retreat, can be found in the town. The river area of the town features an old grinding mill that dates back hundred of years, with an old cave that can be found on the river's road.

Aammiq wetland
This 100-hectare, privately owned wetland in the Bekaa Valley was declared a national reserve in 1999. It lies on one of the most important bird migratory routes in the Near East and is the largest natural wetland in Lebanon.

The area of the cliff is located in the mountainous altitude overlooking the historic city of Byblos. The landscape is breathtaking. To reach Afka, where the spring of Nahr Ibrahim River is located, the road traverses high villages of small rural communities. That area is locally called "el Jurd" of Byblos. The closest villages are Lessa and Miryata. The land stretches cultivated with apple, pear and cherry trees. But the region is also known for juniper, oak, and pine: evergreen trees that made Lebanon renowned in ancient times. 

Ain Zhalta (Al Chouf Distance from Beirut 38 km)
The town's name can be traced back to the Semitic language, meaning "the creepy eye." Ain Zhalta is situated on a southern hill of Wadi al Safa. Among the springs in and around the town are: Al Safa spring, Al Qaah spring, fro where water was drawn to Beiteddine Palace during the rule of Emir Bachir; Al Reayan spring where a huge pumping station distributes potable water top Aley, Bhamcoun and other neighbouring areas; and Ain al Hilf recorded in history as the site where Emir Bachir held meetings with his adversaries to make peace and become allies.
In the town are the remains of a citadel that was built during Maani rule and later was transformed into a Protestant church. There is also an area called "  the Jews cemetry" and nearby a small completely ruined village known as Kafra.

Al Aaqabeh (Rachaya Distance from Beirut 84 km)
The name Al Aaqabeh has its origin in the Syriac language meaning the "foot of a mountain". At the edge of the town in the valley called Wadi Aradeen or Wadi Qaradin lies the remnants of a Roman temple. The site is a 20 minute walk along a dirt path. Around the town there are more remnants of sarcophage and stone mastabas (benches) to be seen.

Al Hermel Qamouh Al Hermel (Baalbeck Al Hermel Distance from Beirut 143 km)
Al Hermel is Aramaic for "God's Pyramid," in reference to the archeological monument known as Qamouh (the Obelisk of Al Hermel ). This historical obelisk which is located 6 km from the town of Al Hermel rises 27 meters high from a black marble base of three steps. It is a 1st century B.C. funerary monument, a Syrian prince's tomb, and is decorated with drawings depicting hunting scenes. The obelisk is believed to have served as a lighthouse for trade caravans, a beacon to guide them as they traveled through the region.
In the rock cliffs on one side of the Al Assi (Orontes) River there are several caves worth visiting. The most famous is Al Raheb (the monk's cave), better known as the Cave of Mar Maroun. About 200 meters north of Mar Maroun is the natural spring of Ain Al Zark, which jets out of the rocks, creating an ideal picnic site. Hermel is noted for its numerous natural springs, the most famous of which is Ras Al Mal.

Al Labweh (Baalbeck Al Hermel Distance from Beirut 114 km)
The name Al Labweh has its origin in the Syriac language, meaning "heart" or "center". Some argue that the name Arabic, from the word for lioness in reference to the lins that used to roam Lebanon.The town has several interesting archeological sites. Most notable are three historical caves that hold several sarcophage dating back to the Roman Byzantine era as well as the remnants of a temple that retains part of its western wall and flooring. Also of interest are the remnants of a Byzantine bastion, the vestiges of a Roman dam, traced back to Queen Zanoubia's reign; and aqueducts that were chiseled in the rocks to draw the water from the Assi (Orontes) river to Queen Zanoubia's kingdom in Palmyra, Syria.

Al Qaa (Baalbeck Al Hermel Distance from Beirut 136 km)
The full name of the village is "Qaa Bi Oyoune". In Arabic Qaa means "the serene expanse of plain land relieved of the presence of mountains that have left it." Bi Oyoune is idiomatic for Abou Oyoune meaning "the eyes of the water." The town contains the remnants of a fortress the Qaa Fortress which was built during the reign of Emir Fakhreddine II around the year 1640 A.D

Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve
The Al Shouf Cedar Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Lebanon. It comprises 6 cedar forests stretching over 50,000 hectares in the Mount Lebanon range. In addition to the reserve's important flora, Bird Life International recognizes the reserve as an important Bird Area. Wolf, lynx and fox are among the other animals native to this area. The reserve has an information center, and accomodation facilities are available. Outdoor activities in the reserve include hiking and trekking (1,300 to 2,000 m ), bird watching from the watch tower beside the lake, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
The reserve stretches from Dahr al Baidar in the north to Niha Mountain in the south. Blanketed with oak forests on its northeastern slopes and juniper and oak forests on its southeastern slopes.. the reserve's most famous attractions are its three magnificient cedar forests of Maasser al Shouf, Barouk and Ain Zhalta-Bmohray. These cedar forests count for a quarter of the remaining cedar forest in Lebanon and some trees are estimated 2,000 years old.  
The Cedrus Libani forest community represents about 25% of the remaining forests in Lebanon and is therefore significant at the national level. Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve covers about 200 km2 of Lebanese territory. It forms the southern limit of the Cedrus Libani.
The reserve makes up 2 percent of the country and 80 percent of Lebanon's Cedar forest making it the largest nature reserve in Lebanon. It was established in 1994.
Oak, pine, and juniper are some of the 16 types of trees that grow in the reserves. Squirres, wild boards, porcupines, wolves and hyenas can be spotted in the reserve. The reserve is accessible from Barouk, Maasser al Chouf and Ain Zhalta.
Best period  to  visit the reserve is between April and November. Number of visitors in 2011: 70,000

What to do within the reserve?
The Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve is a popular destination for hiking and trekking with trails matching all levels of fitness. Bird watching, mountain biking and snowshoeing are also popular. From the summit of the rugged mountains, visitors will have a panoramic view of the countryside, eastward to the Bekaa Valley and Qaraoun Lake and westward toward the Mediterranean.

What to see around the reserve?
You might consider spending a couple of days exploring the historical character of the reserve's neighboring villages such as Ain Zhalta, Deir el Qamar, Barouk, Maasser al Shouf and Niha. Important historical sites in the vicinity include the Beiteddine Palace, Mosque of Fakhreddine I, several old churches and the village of Moukhtara. In addition, you may enjoy Moussa Castle, the Marie Baz Wax Museum, the Kfarhim Grotto and Ain Wzain Grotto. Traveling to the east from Maasser al Shouf area takes you into the Bekaa Valley where you can visit Kefraya winery, the Aammiq Wetlands (good for bird watching) and Qaraoun Lake.

Don't miss the Niha entrance
Sqif Tyron also known as the fortress of Niha is located in the southwest part of the reserve near the village of Niha. The fortress overlooks Jezzine and was used by the Crusader as an observation point onto the road that used to link Sidon to the Bekaa Valley. The Fortress is famous for being the place of refuge for Emir Fakfeddine who was trying to escape capture by the Ottoman in 1633 A.D.

Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve was established by Law No. 532 on July 29, 1996. The Reserve is managed by an Appointed Protected Area Committe in cooperation with the Al Shouf Cedar Society and under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment. The UNESCO declared the Reserve and surrounding villages "Shouf Biosphere Reserve" in 2005.

What is a biosphere reserve?
Biospheres reserve are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. Biosphere reserve serve in some ways as living laboratories for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity. Collectively, biosphere reserves form a world network the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Within this network, exchanges of information, experience and personnel are facilitate. There are over 500 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries.

Difference betweeen a biosphere reserve and a natural World Heritage site
A biosphere reserve is a representative ecological area with 3 mutually reinforcing functions: conservation, sustainable development and logistic support for scientific research and education. Natural World Heritage sites must be of outstanding universal value in accordance with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). In some instances, a core area of a biosphere reserve can therefore serve as a complementary means to protect the integrity of the World Heritage site.

Best season to visit
The period from May to September is the best season to visit depending on the activities you enjoy. For floral enthusiasts, spring and summer are especially good times to visit the reserve. Flowers and plants can be identified with the help of reserve guides and the wooden signs peppered along the trails specified for walking.  Animal lovers will enjoy using the hidden post in Ain Zhalta-Bmohray forest and Ain Eligeh for birds and mammals observation. It is also possible to do nighttime monitoring via jeep using geographic positioning system (GPS) and night vision binoculars. Spring and summer are the best seasons for these activities.

What to bring?
In general visitors should come equipped with good hiking or walking shoes, comfortable clothing, backpack and water and take the following seasonal requirements into consideration.
Summer / Spring Water and sunglasses
Autumn Jacket, hat and warm clothes
Winter Snow clothes, hat, snow gloves snowshoes
Optional visitors may also want to bring a field guide, camera, binoculars and a walking stick

How to get into the reserve?
There are four main entrance to the reserve:
- Ain Zhalta
- Barouk
- Maasser el Chouf
- Niha

Restaurants near Barouk entrance
- Tourist Restaurant 03 231768
- Pinacea Cafe 71 232771
- Baytna Restaurant 03 841456

Where to stay?
- In Ain Zhalta El Eid Guesthouse
- In Baadarane Baz Guesthouse 961 5 311191 - 961 3 702944
- In Beiteldine Mir Amine Hotel 961 5 501351
- In el Khraybe El Ashkar Guesthouse 961 3 354558
- In Maasser el Shouf Auberge St Michel and Beit el Hana 961 5 350451
- In Niha Merchad Guesthouse 961 5 330755

Ecotourism Package ( Prices are person and does not include transportation )
- Hiking in the reserve with local guide ( 2 - 3 hours ) , traditional lunch at a guesthouse, village cultural tour with local guide 39 USD
- H/B accomodation at local guesthouse, diner + overnight + breakfast, hiking in the reserve with local guide ( 2 - 3 hours ), traditional linch at a guesthouse, village cultural tour with local guide 89 USD
- H/B accomodation at local guesthouse, dinner + overnight + breakfast, 2 hikes in the reserve with local guides, ( 2 - 3 hours ), 2 traditional lunches at 2 different guesthouses, 2 village cultural tour with local guides
129 USD
- Hiking in the Reserve including environmental games ( 2 hours ) 5 USD
- Biking tour in the surrounding villages of Al - Shouf Cedar Reserve 4 USD
Park House Maasser el Shouf village, village square, facing public garden Al Shouf, 961 5 350250
email - website

Mountain escape Chouf
Spend a weekend getting purposely lost while hiking in the Al Chouf Cedar Reserve a beautiful nature reserve nestled in the Chouf mountains. As one of the best locations in the country for bird diversity, bring your binoculars. hiking boots and enjoy the endless trails. Stay over at the traditional Beit el Hana guesthouse, in the sleepy village of Maaser al Chouf and watch the sun go down from the leafy terrace.

Beit el Hana (03 454771 USD 40 pp)

Lebanese mezze at Al Midan (03 763768 Deir el Qamar)

Moussa Palace Museum (05 500106 03 273750 ) is the result of an ordinary eccentric's dream to build a castle with his own hands.

Arnoun (AL Shqif / Belfort / Beaufort Castle)
The town's name comes from the Aramaic language and means "the little top,' referring to the highland where the remains of a Crusader castle still stand. Overlooking the whole area and containing the road to Damascus, the citadel was known to Arab travelers as Shqif Arnoun, but Western historians call it Belfort or Beaufort, meaning "the handsome fortress.' The castle came under Israeli occupation in 1982. Two decades later, on the first anniversary of the liberation of South Lebanon, a memorial was unveiled on its western facade. Below its front walls lie the ruins of a village and a large water cistern that are believed to have belonged to the castle. 

Assia - Distance from Beirut 70 km - Altitude 800 meter
The town's name derives from the Syriac language meaning "the doctor". The archeological sites in Assia include Saint Georges Church (1846), remains of Saint Assia monastery that is built over Roman ruins, as well as the remains of Mar Saba Maronite monastery. At the southern outskirts of the village, Saydet Al Qala'a Church stands on a hill; surrounded by sarcophagi carved into rocks, in addition to olive and grape rock presses. During the summer 2002, a 4,05 meter high statue of the Virgin Mary was built near the Al Saydeh Church. Recent discoveries have unearthed other sarcophagi on the west side of Mar Gerges Church. Assia's good quality soil has also helped to distinguish its pottery handcrafts trade.
In the remote village of Assia in Batroun, two houses perpetuate a tradition that has existed for a long time. Sana Jabbour follows her mother's footsteps and continues to make pottery, a time honored craft that was once a main source of income, in the village of her ancestors.
You can recognize Assia pottery by its traditional shape and reddish color. It is 100% handmade, meaning not a single machine is used, not even a turntable. It is the most ancient form of pottery. What makes it so unique is its health benefits, in that the pieces  are made of natural components. It is not painted and no artificial material is ever used.
Assia pottery's composition is quite simple pottery sand that is extracted from the land and a quartz-like stone that is grinded and mixed with it. The process of making the pottery is a bit more complicated and can take up to a month to finish a single piece.
First comes the making of the clay. Cleaning thec sand begins by wetting it, then letting it pass through a fine sieve which will separate it from any small rocks and stones. Then the quartz is finely ground and mixed with the sand. The mixture is laid on concrete to dry to get a clay-like matter.
Before starting any piece, the clay is kneaded and made more malleable to be able to shape it in any form. Once fashioned, the piece will dry for a day. With a pebble, the potter then proceeds to smooth the surface. It is left to dry again, after which the craftsperson uses a knife to remove thickness from the piece. After a day or two left in the shade, away from the sun and wind, another round of polishing with the pebbles is done. The piece should then dry for a week or two after which it will get a final polish layer (also done with pebbles) to make sure all roughness is gone. At this point, the piece becomes shiny without the use of any varnish material, simply by polishing it with the pebble. The item is kept in a room to fully dry and then cooked in a wood oven. During the final phase, many of the pieces are ruined due to mishandling or small defaults in the fabrication, making the whole process quite tiresome.
For Sana, who learned the craft from her mother, perpetuating this tradition is her passion. Although she continues to make the same shapes her ancestors did., she has also given in to more modern requests and added a coffee maker and a mug to her line of products.
However, she refuses to make decorative items, as Assia pottery's main feature is its health advantages for cooking and general use.
You can sample Sana's work every Saturday at Souk el Tayeb or if you are up for for the drive, you can meet her in Asia and see her at work.  Contact Sana Jabbour 961 3 630626

Baakline, birthplace of Amir Fakhreddine Al Maani, stands proudly on Mount Lebanon overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
Baakleen is a city located in Mount Lebanon, Chouf district, 45 kilometers southeast of Beirut, atitude 850 - 920 meters high, Baakleen has grown over the years from a small mountain village to a vibrant town. Founded in the 12th century by the Maan emirs, Baakline served as their capital until the early 17th century when its most famous Emir Fakhreddine II moved to Deir el Qamar. Today BBakline is an important Druze town and seat of the sect's religious leader. The beautiful grand serail, the main administrative building of Baakline before World War I, has been restored and transformed into a public library.
In the center of the village stands the palace of Sheikh Hussein Hamadeh, built in stages starting in 15691. In the area of the Serail are some Druze religious buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, including khalwats (meeting places). Baakline holds an important place in Lebanon's history. Due to water shortages in Baakline the Maani Emirs were attracted to neighboring Deir el Qamar where they built many palaces.

Baalbeck (distance from Beirut 85 km)
On the place of a very old religious site, the Phoenicians, set up a magnificent sanctuary dedicated to the worship of Baal. Under the reign of Alexander the Great, the city developed rapidly. However, the most important constructions of the Acropolis of Baalbeck date from the Roman times.  A great cultural complex gathers 3 major edifices:
The temple of Jupiter housing 54 columns and of which only the 6 famous columns remain. Measuring each 20 meters in height and 2 meters in diameter at the base which classify them among the largest Roman columns. The temple of Jupiter has a hexagonal forecourt relatively well preserved
The temple of Bachus is considered as one of the most beautiful successes of Roman architecture and amongst the most well preserved.  A popular venue for international festivals of theater, ballet, classical and modern concerts and of course the famous "Festival of Baalbeck".
The temple of Venus is rare being of circular plan, comparable in many ways to the Tholos of Delphesin Greece.
Home to the latgest roman ruins in the world, Baalbeck is a relatively far drive from Beirut. To get the most of the ride make arriving there part of the fun by doing a tour of some of Lebanon's wineries in the Bekaa Valley like Kefraya, Ksara, Kouroum and Clos Saint Thomas. Most offer packages for wine tasting and lunch, but it is best call ahead and reserve. Given that one of Baalbeck's most famous temples is devoted to the god of wine, a wine tour could be justified as a prerequisite for fully appreciating the site's archaeological wonders.
If having a look at a modern manmade feat of engeneering before seeing an ancient one sounds appealing, then another stop is Lake Qaraoun. The lake was created artificially by a dam, and is a picturesque spot to take in the vast spaces of the lush West Bekaa Valley. For nature lovers, a little known treasure on the way to the lake is the Aana Nature Reserve, where more than 150 deer live in a 1,000,000 square meter evergreen forest that is also home to rabbits, ducks, and other woodland creatures. To see more animals, a visit to the Taanayel Farms in Ctaura is not only a good place to sample fresh cheese and labneh, but also to see farm animals that will surely delight children.
Visiting the World Heritage site of Baalbeck itself before the festivities begin is a thrilling step back in time that is not to be missed. Visit the baalbeck Museum first, and the ruins will come alive in a whole new way. For another dose of sacred history, Anjar is a short drive away, featuring a World Heritage site of well preserved Umayyad ruins in a village with a sizable religious Armenian community.
For a quick bite on the road, many fresh dairy shops line the main road descending into the valley after Dahr El Baidar, perfect for a labneh sandwich. For fine dining "Le Relais Dionysos" at Chateau Kefraya serves French and Lebanese cuisine. For a more traditional Le4banese experience, "Shams" in Anjar offers tasty mezze and succulent seafood like gambas and fresh trout in a modest but friendly setting. To sleep amidst the sounds of the valley, the "West Bekaa Country Club" in Kherbet Anafar, the Chtaura Park Hotel in Chtauraand the Grand Hotel Kadri in Zahle all offer reasonable rates and attractive grounds for enjoying a relaxing weekend escape.
Visit the Niha ruins in the village of Niha in the Bekaa, where two Roman temples from the 1st century AD were dedicated to the goddess of Niha. The great temple was the seat of a mysterious cult that spread throughout the area, and it was extensively restored in 1950's by the Lebanese government. For contemporary history, visit the Palmyra Hotel and step unto the past, the colonial era relic remains unchanged since the 1960's and still has its star studded guest book on display with names like General Charles de Gaulle. The hotel was used as a German army headquarters in WW1 and a British army headquarter in WW2. Drawings done by the famous French artist and writer Jean Cocteau still adorn the walls. The new wing is more luxurious for an overnight stay, and the hotel cafe is a good spot to stop for a fancy tea.
Contact WADA (Women's Association of Deir El Ahmar) for organized cultural and hiking tours in the area, and discover sites like the Yammouneh Nature Reserve, the Temple of Astarte (Aphrodite), and the churches of Our Miraculous Lady of Bechouat where locals claim to have witnessed recent miraculous healings.
Painter Najwa Rifai Sinno and architect Hareth Haidar created an original fashion line inspired by Lebanese and Bedouin abayas, reviving both traditional embroidery techniques and rich local textiles. Their creations are on display in their shop, Assyla, which is located in front of the Palmyra Hotel. The workshop of Hayat el Rifai on the old main street of Baalbeck features lovely artisanal wares for the home.
Stay in Baalbeck, the new annex of the Palmyra Hotel is much more comfortable than its historical counterpart, with a phenomenal view over the ruins. Pension Shouman is clean with all of the basics and has 5 small rooms that also overlook the ruins. Wada B&B in Deir el Ahmar and the Al Rachid in Jdeidet el Fekha are warm and friendly guesthouses. Taanayel Ecolodge is a unique and fun experience from Arc en Ciel, which restored and transformed traditional houses of the Bekaa into rustic and colorful chalets that reflect the culture of the valley. The ecolodge organizes cultural and sport activities for guests.
Located in the fertile Bekaa Valley the city of Baalbeck originated in Phoenician times as a place of worship to Baal the Phoenician God. During the Hellenistic period (333 - 30 B.C) the Greeks named the city Heliopolis "City of the Sun". However, Baalbeck entered its golden age in 47 B.C.when Julius Caesar made it a Roman colony. Over a span of 200 years (60 B.C. - 150 A.D.) a succession of Roman emperors oversaw the construction of the magnificient temples to honor the divine Roman trinity Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. These temples also served as a monument to the wealth and poweer of Imperial Rome.

City break Baalbeck
Attend one of the various festival concerts and performances of the Baalbeck International Festival from 30 June - 30 August
Spend the afternoon visiting the magnificient roman ruins
Learn to dance dabke with the locals
Relax at Ras Al Ain Spring
Drive to the Hermel Pyramid
Try the traditional local sfiha (meat pie)
Eat Lebanese at Al Ajami restaurant 961 8 370051, potato pizza at Boucherie El Sayed 961 8 370051 or the specialty chicken at Chez Raymond  961 8 327458
Stay at the Palmyra Hotel 961 8 370001, Al Shams Hotel 961 8 373284 or Hotel Shouman 961 3 796007

Barouk (Al Chouf Distance from Beirut 55 km) 
The origin of the town's name is Phoenician, meaning "the blessed." A distinguishing feature of Barouk is its renowned cedar forest, which has been designnated as one of Lebanon's nature reserves Its various springs and open air restaurants have added to the touristic appeal of the area, along with its status as the birthplace of the Lebanese poet, Rachid Nakhleh (composer of Lebanon's National Anthem).  

Batroun is a major tourist destination in North Lebanon. This town boasts tens of historic churches. The town is also a major beach resort with a vibrant nightlife.
Citrus groves surround Batroun, and the town has been famous, from the early twentieth century, for its fresh lemonade, which is sold by all cafes and restaurants on its main street. Batroun is famous for its Phoenician wall and the old souk.
The Citadel of Mousseilha:
The Citadel of Mousseilha is located in Batroun, northern Lebanon. The Crusaders built the Citadel during the Middle Ages and then it was rebuilt by Emir Fakhreddine II in the 17th century to guard the route from Tripoli to Beirut. Mousseilha is constructed on an isolated massive rock with steep sides in a plain beside Al Jawz river, which gives a beautiful scenic from the fortress
The old city filled with bike-wielding youths and the scent of height fish, is bedecked with shaded coblestone roads and charming shops built of aged stones.
The souks has been modernized with computer repair technicians setting its tiny shops but the tranquility of the coastal city proven itself immortal. The city rests between two ports, separated by the impressive Phoenician Wall. Greeting a local will be met with smile and a possible invitation into their home for coffee.

10 things to do in Batroun
1 - Take in the history
Msailha Castle
Msailha Castle

Batroun is a treasure trove of Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine history. Its existence can be traced all the way back to pre historic times, with early tools retrieved within caves along the Nahr el Jaws river. Nearby, is fairy tale castle of Mseilha a medieval fort built by Emir Fakhreddine II in the 17th century to guard the route from Tripoli to Beirut. Perched high above a narrow limestone rock, the citadel and surrounding landscape was recently renovated to make it more accessible to visitors. The natural sea wall adjacent to the old harbor enforced by the Phoenicians. is the current site off the annual Batroun Festival. To the north is the Roman theater with its nine remaining steps and the old souks, a charming cobble stoned market with vaulted sandstone archways. End your day at the ruins of Makaad el Mir (Prince's Rock Seat) with a tall glass of Batroun 's lemonade. Batroun Municipality 961 6 642170

2 - Revel in  in the outdoors 
Batroun's distinct topography allows you to enjoy  both sea and mountains all in the span of few minutes. Heading up 11 kilometers from the city is one of the most beautiful trails along the el Jawz river, Lined with walnut trees near the river's edge, the trek is fairly easy and picturesque. For experienced hikers, begin at the village of Rashkida continuing until Becksmaya Bridge and then head uphill to Kfarhay where the monastry of St. Maroun is located. Don't miss the Kfar Halda water source, the Daleh, .El Ghawawit and  el toufah Springs. You can also tour the prominent sites near the port by bike or skip the car ride to Batroun altogether and bike it from Beirut.

3 - Relax on the beach
The crystal clear waters of Batroun can be enjoyed from a number of beach resorts. including the trendy Bonita Bay. Pearl Beach and White Beach - a stretch of tiny white pebbled water front with the best windsurfing in the area. At Pierre & Friends, laid back is a way of life. Watch the waves crash on the rocky shore with a bottle of beer, until you're in the middle of a full blown beach party.
Bonita Bay 961 76 744844; Pearl Beach 961 6 743941; Pierre and Friends 961 3 352930; 

4 - Tour the wineries
Follow La Route des Vins du Nord, a wine trail that passes by the northern Lebanese wineries Batroun Mountain, Ixsir, Adyar, Coteaux de Botrys, Domaine S. Najm and Chateau Sanctus, Ixsir's winery, Seigniorial  House located in the hills of Batroun, won the CNN Green award for its completely sustainable facility.
Adyar 961 9 926950
Aurora 961 3 295458
Batroun Mountains 963 3 928299 
Chateau Sanctus 961 3 661699
Coteau de Botrys 961 6 721300
Domaine S. Najm  961 3 524425
Ixsir 961 9 210023

5 - Sail, surf, float, dive
Batroun is infamous for its gangs of surfers aptly called "Pirate" and 'Hurricane' who access the area's prime surfing spot through Blue Bay. This area is also great for windsurfing, and body boarding. For formal instruction, White Beach offers, windsurfing lessons with Samer Abi Saab and Batroun Water Sports has the Quicksilver Surf School. Divers can explore the deep blue sea with Pure Tech Diving Facility at the San Stephano resort. Most Batrounis can sail before they can walk and the Lebanese Yacht Club and Sailing School caters to everyone from novice to professional sailors of all ages. If you 're there in mid July, don't miss the Laser Sailing Championship.
Samer Abi Saab 961 70 090048
Batroun Water Sports 961 3 156402
Lebanese Yacht Club 961 6 741841
Pure Tech Diving Facility 961 3 688666

6 - Taste the food
Batroun is famous for its lemonade so a tall glass is a must from Chez Hilmi Cafe or Limonade Tony Daou. One of Batroun's unofficial landmarks is Chez Maguy's next to the Makaad el Mir  site. You probably nedd to ask a local for directions since the walkway  getting there ends up in Maguy's makeshift house. Le Marin's seafood and views are unbeatable. but the true taste of Batroun can be found at Batrouniyat - an old stone house turned into a restaurant / pantry house with homemade preserves, olive oil and regional specialties.
Batrouniyat 961 6 7 44510
Chez Hilmi Cafe 961 6 740069
Chez Maguy 961 3 439137
Le Marin  961 6 744016
Limonade Tony Daou 961 6 744016

7 - Party till dawn
Batroun by night is giving Beirut a run for its money.  Its main street is lined with plenty of  pubs and night  clubs to choose from. Landmark include Taiga and the new Taiga Sky on the rooftop of San Stephano, as well as Pierre and Friends. Centro, Castello and X-Ray are all local favorite but if you're lucky enough to  visit in July you will  get a taste of Batroun's Open  Air Party - an explosion of nightlife wher clubs close indoors  and party in the street.
Castello 961 3 694877
Centro 961 3 431122
Taiga 961 3 49940
X-Ray 961 76 466664

8 - Stay a while
Why not turn your day trip into a weekend getaway at one of Batroun's beach resorts. Aqualand and San Stephano Resort are in the old town and have plenty of activities to choose from. For a more luxurious stay, bask in the sunlight room and old house transformed through modern amenities.
Nested in a little valley overlooking the Mediterranean, Beit al Batroun Bed & Breakfast is a haven of peace, a countryside retreat on the Lebanese sea coast. 
Aqualand 961 6 642201
Batroun Village Club 961 6  642366
San Stephano 961 6  642366
Beit Al Batroun  B&B 03 270049

9 - Tour the churches
On the north end of Batroun overlooking the old harbor is the Maronite cathedral of St. Stephan (Mar Stephan). The 13th century Greek Orthodox  St. George Church (Mar Gerges) is nearby with  its impressive dome and the tiny chapel known as Our Lady of the Sea which overlooks Batroun's sea wall. A short drive to the region of Kfarhay to visit the Monastery of St. Maroun  is well worth the trip.Father John Maron who many believe is the founder of the Maronite community in Lebanon, built the monastery to enshrine the relics of the saint including his actual skull and books dating back to the 15th century.

10 - Live art
Through the winding mountain roads of Rashana, a scenic drive slowly transforms into an unlikely home for art. Deemed the  "International Capital of Sculpture in Open Air" by UNESCO, the work on display and the subsequent notoriety is due to the famed Basbous family  - Michel, Joseph, Alfred and Michel;s son Anashar. Streets lined with limestone, steel, aluminium, bronze, wood, cement and stone sculptures emerge from the ground, surrounded by wild daffodils. Drive past the villas with creative gates to the open-air museum, where you'll find 60 years of artwork as well as Michel;s one story home, constructed entirely without any right angles. His widow Therese eXplains that the house was created so that he could "live inside a sculpture".
Alfred Basbous Museum & Exibition 961 6 720903
Michel & Youssef Basbous Atelier & Exibition 961 6 720310

 Batroun Mountains 
Take a spring tour around the vineyards of the Batroun Mountains, where many of the country's new wave of boutique wineries are based. Start with Atibaia ( ) a small scale boutique winery in a beautiful 17th century house. Next head to Aurora (01 449530, ) a family run winery with vineyards that stretch over 1.4 acres. Finnish the tour at Ixsir ( 71 631613, ) who produce an award-winning wine in a winery named by CNN as one of "greenest buildings in the world."

Mayouli Bed and Breakfast (71 000516, Facebook: Mayouli BedBreakfast).

Seafood at White Beach (06 742404, Batroun).

After a day in the mountains, drop back down to sea level and tour the ancient souks and churches in the peaceful fishing town of Batroun.

Beshwat (Baalbeck - Al Hermel District)
Of Semitic origins, the word Bechwat means "initiation" or "facilitator." A votive stone altar with representations of the Helipolitan triad was found in Beshwat. The town is famous for its church, Saydet Beshwat - Our Lady of Beshwat - which was built over the ruins of a Roman pagan temple by the in habitants who came to Beshwat from Bsharre at the beginning of the 17th century.

Anjar(distance from Beirut 58 km) 
Anjar city is located 55 km east of Beirut in the frontier zone of the Bekaa. It once linked the coastal cities of Lebanon with the city of Damascus. Walls of 370 m in lengh surround the castle of Anjar, secondary sumptuous residence of the Ommeyyades Caliphes. It was once full of mosaics, frescos, relief and stone engravings. It borrows the Corinthian ramparts from the Romans and other ornamental and architectural elements from the Byzantines.
Through times the city was slowly transformed into a commercial center and an oasis for the travelers and traders who crossed the road from Syria to Lebanon.

Anjar: An Umayyad site of Lebanon
Anjar, 58 kilometers from Beirut, is completely different from other archaeological experience you'll have in Lebanon. At other historical sites in the country, different epochs and civilizations are superimposed one on top of the other. Anjar is exclusively one period, the Umayyad. Lebanon's other sites were founded millennia ago, but Anjar is a relative new-comer, going back to the early 8th century A.D. Unlike Tyre and Byblos, which claim continuous habitation since the day they were founded, Anjar flourished for only a few decades.
Anjar stands unique as the historic example of an inland commercial center. The city benefited from its strategic position on interesting trade routes leading to Damascus, Homs, Baalbeck and the south. This almost pefect quadrilateral of ruins lies in the midst of the richest agricultural land in Lebanon. It is only a short distance from gushing springs and one of the important sources of the Litani River. Today's name, Anjar, comes from the Arabic Ain Gerrha, "the source of Gerrha", the name of an ancient city founded in this area during Hellenistic times. Anjar has a special beauty. The city's slender columns and fragile arches stand in contrast to the massive bulk of the nearby Anti-Lebanon Mountains.

History, Anjar's Masters, The Umayyads:
The Umayyads, the first hereditary dinasty of Islam, ruled from Damascus in the first century after the Prophet Mohammed, from 660 to 750 A. D..They are credited with the great Arab conquests that created an Islamic empire stretching from the Indus Valley to southern France. Skilled in administration and planning, their empire prospered for a 100 years. Defeat befell them when the Abassids - their rivals and their successors - took advantage of the Umayyad's increasing decadence. Some chronicles and literary documents inform us that it was Wlaid I, son of Caliph Abd el Malik ibn Marwan, who built the city probably between 705 and 715 A.D.Walid's son Ibrahim lost Anjar when he was defeated by his cousin Marwan II in a battle two kilometers from the city.

Visiting the site: 
To senses the vastness of the city, drive around the outside of the fortified enclosures before entering the 114,000 square meter site. The north-south walls run 370 neters and the east-west sides extend 310 meters. The walls are two meters thick and built from a core of mud and rubble with an exterior facing of sizable blocks and an interior facing of smaller layers of blocks. Against the interior of the enclosures are three stairways built on each side.They gave access to the top of the walls where guards circulated and protected the town. Each wall has an imposing gate, and towers (40 in all) sited on each stretch of wall. The Umayyad's hundred year history is steeped in war and conquest. Apparently their rulers felts that these wall and lower defenses were a necessary feature of their architecture. Nearly 60 inscriptions and grafitti from Umayyad times are scattered on the city's surrounding walls.
Today visitors enter through the northern gate of the site but as the main points of interest are at the southern half of the city. It's better to walk up the main street to the far end of the site. You are walking along the 20 meter wide Cardo Maximus which is flanked by shops, some of which have been reconstructed. At the half way point of this commercial street a second major street called Decumantus Maximus cuts across it at right angles. It is also flanked by shops. In all, 600 shops have been uncovered giving Anjar the right to call itself a major Umayyad strip mall.
The masonry work, of Byzantine origin, consists of courses of cut stone alternating with courses of brick. This technique, credited to the Byzantines reduced the effects of earthquakes.
The tidy division of the site into four quarters is based on earlier Roman city planning. At the city's crossroads you'll have your first hint that the Umayyads were great recyclers. Tetrapylons mark the four corners of the intersection.
This configuration, called a tetra style is remarkably reminiscent of Roman architecture.
A city with 600 shops and an overwhelming concern for security must have required a fair number of people. Keeping this in mind, archaeologists looked for remains of an extensive residential area and found it just beyond the tetra style to the southwest. However, these residential quarters received the least attention from archaeologists and need further excavation. Along both sides of the streets you'll see every spaced column bases and mostly fallen columns that were once part of an arcade that ran the lenght of the street.
Enough of these have been reconstructed to allow your imagination to finish the job. The columns of the arcade are by no means homogenous, they differ in type and size and are crowned by varying capitals. Most of them are Byzantine, more indication that the Umayyads helped themselves to Byzantine and other ruins scattered around the area.
On your way to the arcades\d palace ahead, notice the numerous slabs of stone that cover the top of what was the city's drainage and sewage system. These manholes are convincing evidence of the city's well planned infrastucture.
The great or main palace itself was the first landmark to emerge in 1949 when Anjar was discovered. One wall and several arcades of the southern half of palace have been reconstructed. As you you stand in the 40 square meter open courtyard, it is easy to picture the palace towering around you all four sides. Just to the north of the palace are the sparse remains of a mosque measuring 45x32 meters. The mosque had two public entrances and a private one for the caliph. If you aenjoy a good game of archaeological hide and seek the second palace is the place for you. It is decorated with much finer and more intricate engravings, rich in motifs borrowed from the Greco - Roman tradition. Very little reconstruction has been done to this palace so its floors and grounds are in their natural state. With patience you will find stone carvings of delighful owla, eagles, seashells and the famous acanthus leaves.
More evidence of the Umayyad dependence on the architectural traditions of other cultures appears some 20 meters north of this second palace. These Umayyad baths contain the three classical sections of the Roman bath: the vestiary where patrons changed clothing before their bath and rested afterwards, and three rooms for cold, warm and hot water. The size of the vestiary indicates the bath was more than a source of physical well being but also a center of social interaction. A second smaller, bath or similar design is marked on the map.

Anjar today:
Anjar is open daily. Close to the ruins of Anjar are a number of restaurants which offer fresh trout plus a full of array of Lebanese and Armenian dishes. Some of the restaurants are literally built over the trout ponds. Anjar has no hotels but lodging can be found in Chtaura 15 kilometers away.

Traditional Anjar
Not only is Anjar the sole Umayyad site in Lebanon the area is also known for its Armenian cultural influences and rich biodiversity.
Located 58km from Beirut and just a short distance from rthe Litani River, Anjar, which was a safe zone for Armenian refugees who fled Turkey and the Great Calamity genocide in 1915, is now a pleasant and quiet destination for relaxing weekend.

The Umayyad ruins
Commissioned by Umayyad Caliph Al Walid in the early 8th century, the site prospered as a trading city due to its strategic location at the crossroads of the north-south and east-west trade routes.archaeologists hoping to uncover the ancient city of Chalcis from 1000 BC discovered a walled town with a Roman layout that dated from the first centuries of Islam. Though many Islamic sites around the world were well preserved, those from the Umayyad era seem to have  been all but destroyed. Anjar was thus a pleasant discovery with great historical significance, especially since the Umayyad reign lasted a mere 50 years. It is understandable why the area quickly became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.
The city is 1,300 years old and has evidence of Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture, mainly in the columns and capitals of the colonnades lining in the  main streets. Walls extending 370m from north to south and 310m from east to west surround this 114,000m2 city. Umayyad inscriptions can be found throughout the enclosure. Two main colonnaded streets divide the city into four sections where around 600 shops once stood.
The main structures at the site are two palaces, a mosque and a public bath. The public bath is separated into  three sections a place to change, the bathing area consisting of chambers with cold, warm and hot water and a relaxation area.Make sure to see the faded but intact mosaics to the left of the bathing area entrance.
Anjar's most impressive construction is the great palace, located in the southwest quadrant of the settlement.In the little palace located north, you can explore Greek stone carvings. Also to the north, remains of a mosque's entrance, is thought to have been the caliph's private entrace. The two other entrances were for public.

Aside from its unique historical significance and cultural aspects, Anjar is a perfect ecological environment where fauna and flora are well protected.
The society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon as a national partner for Bird Life International has been active in the assessments, Anjar - Kfar Zabad Wetlands were announced as an IBA in 2005. The area is a major habitat for the globally endangered bird species, Syrian  Serin. It is also a bottleneck for African Eurasian Water Birds.
SPNL has been working on the sustainable management of the wetlands, through the Human Integrated Management Approach (HIMA) since 2005. Accordingly, magement plans for sustaining biodiversity and empowering livihoods was developed for the site. Eco tourism has been promoted as a means to empower local communities and highlight the esthetic, biodiversity and cultural values of this area. Several ecotourism facilities have developed in the HIMA including a visitor's center, picnic area, camp-site and natural hiking trails. Chevais
The Village Tour
This takes you into the Old Armenian Village of Anjar itself. An old map of the first eagle-shaped settlement shows the layout of the village with its municipality, houses and gardens, water points, church shops, public garden and craftsmen.

The Archaeological site 

Anjar Castle

Visitors will experience the history of the Umayyads through the Old World Heritage City (after the village tour, the loop ends at the archaeological site, crossing the souvenir shops street).

The Water Course
This tour includes a long hike from the Anjar and Chamsine Spring to the wetlands of the Anjar - Kfar Zabad HIMA. Hiking and biking tours are offered.

Where to eat
Shams Restaurant
A favorite in the area, the restaurant offers fresh fish in addition to the traditional mezze and drills. Make sure to ask for their patented potato balloons, which are a unique feast for the eyes and taste buds. Tel: 961 8 620567

Furn Koch Anjar
Established in 1950, this small bakery continues to prepare its food the traditional way. Their specialty - the chanklich mankouche. Koch Street

Where to sleep
Challalat Anjar  Hotel
Fair prices, a decent restaurant and live entertainment daily on summer nights at the only hotel in the area - Challalat Anjar - the place to be. Tel: 961 8 620753

Getting there
From Zahle head towards the south or Syrian border and follow the signs to Anjar. To get to the site, take the fork by the petrol station and the "Welcome to Anjar". Drive about 2 km from the highway to the site. Finally, you will see a Shams restaurant sign on your right, after which you should take the first left, and that will lead you to the site entrance.

A beautiful drive into the mountain south east of Beirut brings you to the magnificient Palace, pure specimen of national architecture of early XIX th century. The great Emir Bechir Chehab, ruler of Mount Lebanon, built it over a period of thirty years.
Sumptuos residence of the Princes, the palace presents bothy elements of Islamic architecture and Venetian gothic-renaissance architecture. This match of style is visible in the gracious arcades and the facades, in the wooden works, the ceilings and the mosaic parterres. A folklric museum occupies one wing. In the palace renovated stables is an exquisites display of mosaics from a ruined Byzantine church and other structures of the same period. The visitor will be struck by the generosity and originality of the decorative ornaments.
The town's name derives from the old Semitic language, meaning "the house of the adjudication." However, some argue that the name is Arabic, meaning "the house of worship," since it included a khilweh (holy place)for the Druze according to folklore.
Beiteddine is home to the famous palace built by Prince Bachir Al Chehabi II, who governed Mount Lebanon from 1788 to 1840. The palace's design and structure represent that of 19th century Lebanese architecture. Its construction began in 1812, at which 5time it was the principality's headquarters, and continued until 1840, when the prince was exiled, first in Malta and then in Istanbul, where he died in 1850.
Principality rule was dissolved in the year 1842, and the palace was converted into a headquarters for Ottoman governors. In the years 1860 - 1915, it was used by Mount Lebanon's Ottoman Mutassarif, and after World War 1 the palace was placed under the authority of the French mandate government.
Restoration work on the palace started in 1926, and by the year1934, it was designated as a historic building and placed on the list of Lebanese heritage sites. Beiteddine palace went to become a summer residence for the presidency in 1943 under President Bechara Al-Khoury.
Beiteddine is a valuble touristic site and was used duringf the sixties and seventies for arts and culture festivals. Beiteddine organizers have resumed this tradition, with internationally recognized events taking place in the months of July and August.
Beiteddine is a small Lebanese townin the Chouf didtrict approximately 50 km southeast of Beirut and near the town of Deir el Qamar from which is a separated by a steep valley. The town is famous for its magnificient Beiteddine Palace which hosts the Beiteddine Festival every summer.
Local mir Bashir Chehab II who was later appointed to rule Mount Lebanon, started building the palace in 1788 at the site of the Druze hermitage (hence the town's name, translating as "House of Faith") It took about about 30 years to complete. The best craftsmen from Damascus and Aleppo as well as Italian architects were invited and given much freedom so its style is a cross between traditional Arab and Italian baroque.
In 1934, it was declared a national monument .
In 1943, Bechara el Khoury, the first Lebanese president declared it the official president's summer residence. Parts of the palace are today open to the public, while the rest is still the president's summer residence. Mir Bashir built three more palaces, however only mir Amin palace survived and is today a luxury hotel.

Bcharre is the town of the only remaining (preserved) original Cedars of Lebanon. It is the birthplace of the famous poet, painter and sculptor Gibran Khalil Gibran who has a museum in the town to honor him.
The name Bsharee can be found in the Phoenician language meaning "the house of Ishtar". Ishtar being a goddess worshipped by the Phoenicians (and king Salomon) before monostheistic faith were adopted in the area. Unlike other parts of Lebanon, Aramaic was spoken in Bsharre well into the 19th century. As a result, the people of Bsharre developed an unmistakably strong accent which lasts to this day and which they are very proud of.
Today the town is located in a highly touristic zone including such attraction as the Gibran Khalil Gibran museum, Qadisha valley, the Qadisha grotto, the forest of 600 Cedars, a ski resort, and Bkafakra.

10 things to do in Bcharre
 1 - Gibran Museum:: the views of the valley from the museum's terrace are quite amazing. Admission 5,000 LBP. Opening hours November - March 10 am - 5 pm, March - November 10 am- 6 pm. Closed Mondays. 961 6 671137

2 - Notre Dame de Lourdes Grotto
Part way up a small path near the museum is a small cave with a spring. The site is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that she took pity on a Carmelite monk who had to carry water up to the monastery each day to water his vegetable patch. Small candles and statuettes sit on an altar that  has been built around the spring.

Qadisha Grotto
3 - Qadisha Grotto 
This small grotto extends about 500 m into the mountain and has great limestone formations. The grotto is a 4 km walk from Bcharre. Follow the signs to the L'Aiglon Hotel and then take the footpath opposite to it. The enjoy a picturesque 1.5 km walk to the grotto. Admission 4,000 LBP. Opening hours June until first snow 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

4 - The Cedars 
With its chalet style hotels and string of wooden hut souvenir shops lining the main road, Lebanon's oldest ski resort has quite a bit of charm. The village is named after the historic grove of Cedar trees that stand at an altitude of more than 2000 m, on the slopes of Jebel Mekmel, about 4 km from Bcharre. Known locally as Arz el Rab (Cedars of the Lord), they are under the protection of the Patriarch of Lebanon who built a chapel in the grove in 1848.

5 - Qornet el Sawda
At 3088m, this is the highest peak in Lebanon. The view from the summit stretches west to the sea and east to the Bekaa Valley and Anti-Lebanon Mountains. A road suitable for walking (two hours) or for four-wheel  drive vehicles starts from Dahr el Qadib on the highest point of the road between the Cedars and Yammouneh.

6 - The Qadisha Valley
The best way to hike into the valley is to take one of the steep goat trails that lead out of Bcharre and down to the valley below. If that's too strenuous, you can drive a car to Deir Mar Elisha and park it there while you walk along the valley floor. A hike from Bcharre to Deir as Salib takes about six hours., there and back. A steep return hike from Bcharre to Deir Mar Antonios Qozhaya, (around 12 km) will take the whole day, with stops for picture taking exploring and a picnic.

7 - The Monasteries
The Lebanese Maronite Order, the first order to be officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, was founded here in 1695. The monastery of Mar Elisha (St Eliseus) goes back much further. By the 14th century it was already the seat of a Maronite bishopric. It was restored in 1991 and turned into a museum. To get there take the main road from Bcharre heading east, turn off at the small blue sign for the Qadisha Vallry and follow the narrow road to the monastery. Legend has it that at the end of the 14th century, the Mamluk Sultan Barquq escaped from imprisonment in Karak Castle and sought refuge in Qadisha. Due to the hospitality shown to him, he paid for the restoration of Deir Qannoubin. The church is half built into the rock face and is decorated with frescoes dating from the 18th century. To get there, take the path leading from the village of Blawza. The walk takes about an hour each way. Just past the turn off for B'qaa Kafara, as you head east there is a small path leading to Deir Mar Semann, a hermitage founded in 1112 by Takla, the daughter of a local priest called Bassil. Concrete paths lead down to the four room hermitage carved into the rocks, where Mar Samaan (St Simon) evidently lived. The walk take about 15 munutes.
Deir Mar Elisha 961 6 671559

8 - Deir Mar Antonios Qozhaya (St. Anthonys' of Qozhaya)
This hermitage is the largest in the valley and has been in use since it was founded in the 11th century. It is famous for establishing the first known printing press in the Middle East in the 16th century. The museum houses a collection of religious and ethnographic objects as well as an old printing press that was used to publish the Psalms in Syriac, a language still used by the Maronite clergy during their services. Near the entrance to the monastery is the Grotto of St Anthony, known locally as the cave of the Mad where you can see the chain used to constrain the insane or possessed, who were left at the monastery in the hopes that the saint would cure them. To get there, take the road from Arbet Qozhaya but ask the local for directions, as it is tricky to locate.

Bekaa Kafra
9 - Bekaa Kafra 
Just off the road between Bcharre and Hasroun is Bekaa Kafra, the highest village in Lebanon (elevation 1750 m ) and the birthplace of St. Charbel. The Saint's house has been turned into a museum, which commemorates the saint's life through paintings. It is open daily, except Mondays, with a shop and cafe at the entrance. The village now has a new convent named after St. Charbel and there is a church, Notre Dame across the way from the museum.

10 - Diman 
In Dimane on the south side of the valley residence of the Maronite Patriarchy, which moved there from Deir Qannoubin in the 19th century. It is a large modern building on the side of the road nearest to the valley. The site is well worth a visit for its panoramic paintings of the Qadisha Valley and religious scenes by the Lebanese painter Saliba Doueihy that date back to the 1930s or '40swhen the spire of the church was built. The grounds behind the building lead to the edge of the gorge and views across the valley.
Diman Patriarchate 961 6 591188

Coastal city, located 37 km north of Beirut, Byblos is the world's oldest continuously inhabited town. Situated on a cliff, it5 marks the site of the most ancient port of the world and a once flourishing commercial center.
But Byblos was once a place of worship, since there dweled the temple of obelisks. Other discoveries revealed the famous figurines of Byblos, the votive statuettes. The visitor will be astonished at the number of superimposed cultural layers: Neolithic, Phoenicians, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman.
The Romans left Byblos a monumental fountain, a sanctuary, a colonnade, and most of all, a magnificent amphitheater facing the sea. The major attraction at this site is the Castle built by the Crusaders inside the ramparts of the ancient city.
Byblos is one of the top contenders for the oldest continuously inhabited city award. According to Phoenician tradition, the god El founded it, and even the Phoenicians considered it a city of great antiquity. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos dates at least 7,000 years.
Ironically, the city's early inhabitants would not have recognized the words "Byblos" and "Phoenicia." For several thousand years it was called "Gubla" and later "Gebal," while the term "Cana'an" was applied to the coast in general.
It was the Greeks, some time after 1200 B.C., who gave us the name "Phoenicia," referring to the coastal area. They called the citry "Byblos" (papyrus in Greek), because this commercial center was important in the papyrus trade.
Byblos, the Phoenician Harbor
About 7,000 years ago a small Neolithic fishing community settled along the shore and several of their monocellular huts with crushed limestone floors can be seen on the site. Many tools and weapons of this Stone Age period have been found as well.
By the beginning of the Early Bronze age (about 3,000 B.C.), Canaanite Byblos had developed into the most important timber shipping center on the eastern Mediterranean and ties with Egypt were very close. The pharaohs of the OId Kingdom needed cedar trees and other wood for shipping. In return, Egypt, sent gold, alabaster, papyrus rope and linen. Thus began a period of prosperity, wealth, and intense activity. Several centuries later, Amorite tribes from the desert overran the coastal region and set fire to Byblos. But once the Amorites had settled in, the city was rebuilt and Egypt again began to send costly gifts to the city.
Around 1,200 B.C. a wave of the so called "Sea People" from the north spread to the eastern Mediterranean, and some settled on the southern coast of the Canaan. These seafarers probably contributed their skills to the maritime society we know today as Phoenicia.
During the same period, the scribes of Byblos developed an alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of our modern alphabet. By 800 B.C., it had traveled to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated. The earliest form of Phoenician alphabet found to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos.
Throughout the first milenium B.C. Byblos continued to benefit from the trade in spite of Assyrians and Babylonian encroachments. Then came the Persians, who held sway from 550 - 330 B.C. The remains of a fortress outside the Early Bronze Age city walls from this period show that Byblos was a strategic part of the Persian defense system in the eastern Mediterranean. After conquest by Alexander the Great, Byblos was rapidly Hellenized, and Greek became the language of the local intelligentsia. During the Hellenistic Period (33O - 64 B.C.) residents of Byblos adopted Greek customs and culture. Both the Greek language and culture persisted throughout the Roman era, which followed.
In the first century B.C. the Romans under Pompei took over Byblos and other Phoenician cities., ruling them from 64 B.C. to 395 A.D. In Byblos, they built large temples, baths and other public buildings, as well as a street bordered by a colonnade that surrounded the city.
There are few remains of the Byzantine Period (395 -637 A.D.) in Byblos. partly because construction consisted of soft sandstone of generally poor quality.
Under Arab rule beginning 637 A.D., Byblos was rather peaceful but had declined in importance over the centuries, and archeological evidence from this period is fragmentary. In 1104 A.D. Byblos fell to the Crusaders, who came upon the large stones and granite columns of Roman buildings, and used them to construct their castle, church, walls and moat. With the departure of the Crusaders, Byblos continued under the Mamluk and then Chehab rule in the Ottoman period as a small fishing town, and its antique remains were gradually covered with dust. In 1860, the French writer Ernest Renan rediscovered the ancient site while surveying the area. A thriving modern town with an ancient heart, Byblos is a mix of sophistication and tradition. The old harbor is sheltered from the sea by a rocky headland. Nearby are the excavated remains of the ancient city, the Crusader castle, church, the old market area and a sandy beach.
For a real taste of Byblos, stroll through the streets and byways. This part of the town is a collection of old walls (some medieval), overlapping properties and intriguing half-ruins. After visiting the archaeological site, a quick and entertaining introduction to Lebanon's past can be found at Byblos three main museums. The Wax Museum, near the castle, illustrates scenes from the history and rural life of the country. The Fossil Museum, located in an alley of the main souk, contains an interesting collection of shark, eel, shrimp and other fossils.
The Archaeological Site Museum, located at the entrance of the citadel of Byblos, was inaugurated in 2002. The museum displays object representative of practices and traditions throughout the history of Byblos. Byblos is home to the international Center for Human Science, which is affiliated with UNESCO. In 1894, Byblos was placed on UNESCO'S list of World Heritage.

It's all in the stones
Byblos, Expo Hakel
Byblos is believed to have been founded around 5000 BC and was built as the first city in Phoenicia. Today, it is thought by many to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. But, one must admit that the fish got there first. Founded in 1991, the Byblos Fossil Museum houses a unique collection of fossils of sharks, eels shrimps, rays, flying fish, squids and star fish offering great insight into the ancient marine life of the region dating back to 100 millions years ago. Most of the fossils have been collected from the mountain villages of Hakel, Hjoula and El Namoura.
The original source of these fossils was of course the Mediterranean Sea, which in that period covered those regions. The presence is due to the fact that the fossilization conditions of that period were excellent and the limestone rocks preserved a wide variety of Mid Cretaceous fossils. At the museum one can learn about the marine explorers and the species that thrived in the sea around the region. Early members of many of today's most common ocean fish groups as well as many extinct groups can be looked at, touched and even purchased.
Located in the old souk of Byblos, the museum is open all year round, from 10 am till 6 pm daily in the winter and until late in the summer. Entrance is free of charge.

Byblos, Expo Hakel
Take a drive to Hakel and discover its quarry and museum
Take the road going through the villages of Amchit, Hbelin and Obaidat until you come to Hakel which lies 650 meters above sea level. With a population of 400 people, the village has a quarry where the fossils, mainly fish are preserved in the early 20th century. 55 genera and 69 species in Hakel deposits, compared to 47 genera and 58 species in nearby Hjoula and 25 genera and 30 species in Nammoura. Fish are the most common fossils, but crustaceans are also frequent. Plants and echinoderms are also present as rare finds.

The Museum
Byblos, Expo Hakel
 Rizkallah Nohra founded Expo Hakel, a museum fossilized fish. The adventure began in 1970, when as a seven year old boy he started to gather stones with pecular designs and engravings from a piece of land owned by his family and his hobby became a passion as years went by.
Expo Hakel is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm in winter and 7 pm in summer. 
 961 9 770012  

Simply known as The Cedars this resort settlement in Lebanon's highest range is one of the most dramatically beautiful spots in the country. Its centerpiece is an ancient grove of Cedars, a tree synonymous for millenia with Lebanon itself. Just below the Cedars is the town of Bsharre.
The Cedars is a resort for  all season. In summer, the high elevation makes it a wonderful escape from the humid coast, while in winter skiing is the favorite activity. The scenery and the quality of the snow make The Cedars an exceptional skiing venue. The pistes form a natural amphitheater, and the high elevation means the season usually lasts from December through April. Snack bars, hotel s and restaurants service the ski area.
More facilities are available at The Cedars village and in Bsharre 15 minutes down the mountain.

10 things to do in the Chouf
1 -  Deir al Qamar
Without a doubt, Deir el Qamar is one of Lebanon's prettiest villages. It also has an interesting history that reflects the country's tolerant religious roots. The village once hosted an active church, synagogue, mosque and a sleepy town, especially charming at sunset when the bats flit overhead and the old buildings on the square resemble a fairytale setting. Deir el Qamar's roots lie in the Middle Ages wjen Fakhreddine, the Druze governor of Lebanon, extended his power throughout the region to cover an area roughly equivalent to modern day Lebanon. He succeeded in uniting what was once a number of small fiefdom. Due to water shortages, he moved the capital to nearby Deir al Qamar, which has numerous active springs . Over three centuries later, the village remains one of the best preserved exampes of 17th and 18th century provincial architecture in the country.

Moussa Castle
2 - Moussa Castle
About 2 km out of town in the direction of Beiteddine is Castle Moussa, a truly unique waxworks museum. It is a testament to the love of a woman and the stubbornness of its creator. Filled with strange mechanical tableaux, a life-size recreation of the Last Supper and probably the biggest collection of guns and weaponry you'll ever see, it took Moussa nearly 60 years to complete. His tenacity is simply awe-inspiring and the result of his life's work is on display for generations to enjoy.
On the way down to Beiteddine, about 1 km on the left hand side is La
Moussa Castle

Bastide, a nice place to stop over for a night, it's clean, friendly and comfortable with 20 lovely flower patterned rooms, many with wonderful views across the valley. Admission 7,500 LBP Winter opening from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. 961 5 500106

3 - Beiteddine  
Some 50 km southwest of Beirut, Beiteddine is the name of both a village and the magnificient palace complex that lies within it. The palace, former, stronghold of the 18th century governor Emir Bechir, can be seen from across the valley as you approach it. A cross between traditional Arab and Italian baroque (the architects were in fact Italian) its grounds descend over several terraces, planted with poplars and flowering shrubs. There were three other palaces in the vicinity, built for Emir Bechir's sons. Of these only one, Mir Amin Palace, is still standing and is now a luxury hotel just beyond the main part of the village.
The magnificent, early 19th century palace complex was built over a period of 30 years, beginning in 1788, and became the stronghold of Emir Bashir. It is the greater surviving achievement of 19th century Lebanese architecture and an impressive symbol of Bahir's power and wealth. Most areas except the courtyards and old stables are kept locked, so it's hard to see anything for the price of your ticket.  A guide with an all important key can be persuaded for about 10,000 LBP unless you manage to tag along inconspicuously behind another group . Admission 7,500 LBP Winter opening 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. closed on Mondays Tel 961 5 500077

4 - Mir Amin Palace Hotel
Mir Amin was the youngest son of Emir Bahir II Chehab. This palace, which looks down onto the palatial complex of Beiteddine, was restored and  converted into a deluxe hotel with 24 beautifully decorated rooms. Even if you're not staying here, it's still worth dropping by for a drink on the terrace, where the views are spectacular/ Tel 961 5 501315

5 - Baakline 
This town, which lies about 4 kilometers southwest of Beiteddine, was the first capital of the Maan dynasty that settled here around 1120. It has beautiful old homes and the local handwork shop produces very good crochet work although their main craft is carpet weaving that is very similar to Persian rugs. Tel 961 5 300528

6 - Ain Merched 
A kilometer further along is a delighful setting with a waterfall and pools framing the backgroundof a large and pleasure restaurant. The temperature near the falls can be quite cool even  during the hottest days of summer. Tel 961 5 310220

7 - Maasser el Chouf
This is the site of one of Lebanon's most beautiful cedar forests. It is also a choice spot for walking enthusiasts. From the top of the of the mountain at 1940 meters altitude there is a panoramic view over the Bekaa, the Litani Dam and Lake Qaraon. Tel 961 5 350380

8 - Moukhtara
About 9 km south of Beiteddine is the town of Moukhtara, the seat of the Jumblatt family and the facto capital of the Chouf. The Jumblatts' 19th century stone palace dominates the town. Consisting of three large buildings, it has its own  hammam, a garden with a collection of Roman sarcophagi and a waterfall that tumbles into an ornamental pool. There are public reception rooms that are sometimes open to visitors. Every weekend when he is in residence, Walid Jumblatt, head of the family and leader of the Druze, spends his mornings listening to the complaints of his followers, if you happen to be there, you will see the long line of the petitioners as they wait to see their leader.Baadarane 7 kilometers south of Moukhtara, is another remnant of Lebanese feudal architecture. You will find the old palace of Ali Pasha Jumblatt allied to Fakhreddine II, as well other residences still inhabited today, Amatour, halfway between Moukhtaraand Baadarane, is where you can see more houses built in the traditional style that characterizes the Lebanese  mountainside. Looking down over the villages is the ancient khalwa or meeting place used by the Druze for prayer and meditation Tel 961 5 311234

9 - Chouf Cedar Nature Reserve
The largest of Lebanon's three natural protectorates, the Chouf Cedar Reserve represents a quarter of the remaining cedar forests in the country and 5% of Lebanon's entire area. The reserve marks the southernmost limit of Lebanese cedar (Cedars Libani) growth, and incorporated within the protectorate are six cedar forests. Of these, the Barouk and Maasser el Couf forests have the largest number of ancient trees, some are thought to date back 2000 years. Hunting and livestock grazing bans are strictly enforced and a number of species of flora and fauna have returned to the area in recent years. More than 200 species of birds and 26 species of wild mammals (including wolves, gazelles and wild  boar) either live in or pass nd the facto capital of the Chouf. The Jumblatts' 19th century stone palace dominates the town. Consisting of three large buildings, it has its own  hammam, a garden with a collection of Roman sarcophagi and a waterfall that tumbles into an ornamental pool. There are public reception rooms thatrimage for local residents. Admission 5,000 LBP Opening hours 9 am - 7 pm Tel 961 5 502230

10 - Barouk
Barouk village, situated at the base of mount Barouk is covered with a magnificent Cedar forest. The Natural Reserve in this area covers 500 square kilometers of Cedar forest with around 3 million trees, which extend from Ain Zhalta to Barouk and Maasser el Chouf. It includes many natural and historic sites and encompasses a wide variety of wild fauna and herbs. It is an ideal and unique area for hikers to explore however, a permit should be obtained from the Natural Reserve's office.
Tel 961 5 240222

Deir Al Ahmar (Baalbeck - Al Hermel District)
There are several versions related to the origin of the town's name. However, the most reliable one is that the name Deir Al Ahmar is attributed to a big monastery in the area that was built with red stones. The town is characterized by its eight heritage churches as well as the center of the archbichopric of Baalbeck - Deir Al Ahmar.
The history of Deir Al Ahmar is associated with the history of the Church of Saydet Al Borj - Our Lady of the Tower - which has been rebuilt and became the Patron Saint of the village where she performed many miracles according to the residents. The town is also home to various vestiges, among which is the temple of Jupiter with its remaining two walls and big stones, whereas Saydet Al Borj church was built over the demolished part. Deir Al Ahmar also includes Qasr Al Banet - The Girls Palace - a Roman palace that used to be inhabited by virgin girls. The column of Ia'at which was constructed in memory of the battles and old victories as well as the Roman road built during the Assyrian era, and that the Romans improved it to become essential for the movement of their armies between Syria and the Mediterranean coast.

Douma is a village located at an altitude of 1000 meter, 80 km from Beirut. Douma's name is derived from the Phoenician language, meaning "the quiet, peaceful and restful."
This red roofed town, which stands at the head of a long fertile valley known as Kfar Hilda and Bassateen al Assi, is proud of its ancient remnants. In the town square sits a 4th century A.D. sarcophagus, bearing a Greek inscription recording that this was the burial place of Castor, who died in 317 A.D. Castor was a priest, of the two gods Hygeia and Asklepios, who where Greek gods of health and healing.
It also enjoys a unique temperate climate. Its ground is rich and welcomes all sorts of plants especially and has an abundance olive trees, vine and apple trees.
Other ancient remains in Douma are set into the walls of the Churches of Mar Doumit and Mar Calita. On the post office lawn nearby are some millstone and oil presses, probably from the late Roman or Byzantine times. Near the roadside just above the town is the ancient Church of Mar Nohra, built into the rock. The church yard is shaded with a Mediterranean oak, and this beautiful spot is a pleasant place for a picnic.

Ehden Nature Reserve (Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve)
The rich biodiversity of this protected forest makes the reserve a unique place to visit. Extending over 4 valleys, the forest harbors many endangered mammals and birds, and most of the tree species found in Lebanon. A mixed forest, the reserve includes conifers, such as cedars, as well as wild pear and wild apple. New, well planned footpaths of different levels are great for hiking and it is an ideal place for bird watching, hiking and snowshoeing.

In Ehden, trails forged long ago by farmers, foresters, villagers and nature lovers, lead to wonders in a small forest, located on the foothills of Mount Makmel, Northern Lebanon.Taking the road to Jouit, from the main entrance of the forest, a green island appears amidst the high mountain peaks, longing for winter, spring, summer and autumnal visitors. In this forest the diversity of tree communities is enchanting. they represent most Lebanese forest types, forming a mosaic of island forests, spread across nine sub-regions. Explore the forest throughout the four seasons to witness the seasonal transformation of the trees. 
Looking over the mosaic patches of vegetation, from the highest peaks of arid El Moghr or Jouar El Jaie, gives an eternal connection to the beauty and stillness of nature. Over these highest peaks, Bonelli eagles can be seen flying during spring. Jouar El Jafie is covered with an evergreen cedar and juniper tapestry where whitish primroses, orchids, and the endemic reddish-purple cyclamen can be seen after the snow melts. On Arid El Moghr discover Cedar oak, maple and other deciduous trees with colors that take your breath away during fall. 
The Wadiane El Gamiqua (Deep Valley), with western south exposure, is home to a mix of hop horn beam, wild service trees, flowering ash, Calabrian pine, Lebanese cedar, and wild plum. Taking the trail from Jouit, leading to a spot called Ain El Naassa, you can sit in the shade of an ancient oriental plane tree. Shift your path to traverse Dahr Tnoub El Ali (Tnoub meaning cedar or fir in Arabic) where old cedar trees grow and dominate the patches of Turkey oak MMaklab El Ezr). 
If you decide to explore the foothills of the reserve, you can start with Qornet El Snaoubar from where you can access Qornet El Assi, Wadi El Baq  and Wadi El Qiame. The Qornet El assi is occupied by oak, dogwood tree and buck thorn, you have to be persistent to cross this dense area, which lives up to its name and means disobedience and stubbornness in Arabic. The Wadi El Qiame (Resurrection Valley), of east northern exposure , is covered most of the year by mist, especially in the afternoons. Cedar trees enjoy a dry summertime in this humid valley, which features terraces recalling past farming systems and agricultural practices. 
Looping the nine sub-regions of Horsh Ehden in a day, while trekking off trail on short laps, is an enriching adventure, an unforgettable four season journey in one  of the most charming colorful forests in the country. The forest holds deep contrasts, like Lebanon itself, reflecting the beautiful contradictions found in nature. 

10 things to do in Ehden
1- Enjoy nature
Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve located in North Lebanon, is a diverse and beautiful remnant of cedar forests, making the reserve a very important part of the country's cultural and natural heritage. Located on the northwestern slopes of Mount Lebanon and surrounded by mist and relatively high precipitation, the reserve has a multitude of rare and endemic plants that flourish in it.
A mixed forest of juniper, fir and the country's last protected community of wil apple trees border patches of cedar. A number of water sources can be found in Horsh Ehde, the most important of which are Ain al Naasa, Nabaa  Jouit and Ain Al Balada. During a paeaceful jike through the forest lucky visitors might spot an endangered Eastern Imperial Eagle or Bonelli's Eagle, a great wolf, or a wildcat. The reserve's beautiful valleys and gorges with their wild orchids brightly colored salamanders, mushrooms and other flora and fauna are sure to soothe even the most anxious visitor.
The remote wilderness of parts of Horsh Ehden and of the adjacent mountains areas provides the ideal setting for walks and other oudoor activities. 961 6 560590 - 961 70 601601

2 - Know its heroes 
Youssef Bek Karam, whose statue canbe seen in front of the St Georges Church was a Lebanese leader who led the nationalist effort against the Ottoman Empire. He was an early advocate of forming a united world assembly that would protect the rights of small nations. He was also a champion of human rights, justice and freedom. He fought against tyranny, human rights abuses and social discrimination. Due to his high ethical standards he refused to live the life of opulence and luxury.
Another local hero is Patriarch Estephan II Boutros el Douaihy. He was the Patriarch of the Maronite Church from 1670 - 1704 and is considered one of the major Lebanese historians of the 17th century. Douaihy strongly believed in the social importance of education and science. He pursued a successful policy of sending as many Maronites to Rome as possible, in order fot them to return to their villages and raise the level of educatio. Douaihy established a college in Aleppo which became the basis for the development or renewal monastic orders.
Gabriel Sionite was famous for his role in the publication of the 1645 Parisian polyglot of the Bible. Although Sionite came to Rome at the age of seven he always considered Arabic as his mother tongue. In Rome he learned Latin and Syriac. He studied theology and went into the priesthood at age 45 in Paris.

3 - Tour the churches
St. Sarkis Monastery overlooks Ehden, Kfarsghabe, Bane and Hadath el Jebbe. Given its exceptional location commanding the valley at 1500 metes altitude, the monastery is called the Watchful Eye of Qadisha. It is dedicated to Saint Sarkis and Bakhos (Saint Sergius and Bacchus). The monastery belongs  to the Lebanese  Antonin Maronite Order a monastic order founded on August 15, 1700 by the Maronite Patriarch Gabriel Al Boustani from Blaouza
Among the many famous churches is Saint Mamas (Mar Mema) which is the oldest Maronite church in Lebanon, built in 749 a.d. on the remains of a pagan temple, while sayidat Al Hosn Church of Our Lady of the Fort, was built over the remains of a Crusader castle, hence the amazing view that it commands. Saint Moura was built in 1339 and witnessed the founding of the Lebanese Maronite Monastic Order in 1695. The cathedral opf St. Georges with its seven altars houses the mausoleumof Youssef Bek Karam while his statue and that of Gabriel Sionite stand in the courtyard.

4 - Get an eyeful  
Catch the sunset at Saydet el Hosn from where you can see the entire north side of Lebanon stretching from the Syrian coast to Chekka. You can also take a walk on the pass for a breathtaking view of the valley.

5 - Learn the history
The Monastery of St. Antonios Qozhaya is the birth place of the first printing press in the Middle East. Some historians believe it was built in 1584. Its first printed text is The Book of Psalms, which can actually be found at the library of the University of the Holy Spirit in Kaslik. It dates back to 1610. The Lebanese Maronite Order renovated the printing press at the start of the nineteenth century. Its activities were halted at the beginning of the 1860 war. It resumed printing in 1871, but stopped again at the beginning of World War II.

6 - Take in the local culture
A trip to Ehden is not complete without a visit to Al Midan, a historic public square, surrounded by typical Lebanese architectureand filled with cafes, patisseries and restaurants. Al Midan is the place to be 24 hours a day. Take a stroll in the early morning and you can smell the Turkish coffee with cardamom, At noon have a leisurly lunch under the shade of the colored umbrella. After a cup of tea, nibble on local sweets up at the pass. In the evening, the shisha smoke rises above the sound of merriment during dinner. Then, end the day with a sip of sahleb to warm you up.

7 - Take a break
Sama Ehden has a whole series of activities for little ones, while Ehden adventure and Ehden MontainActivity are great for outdoor activities for adults such as hiking paragliding rappelling caving etc....Kroum Ehden will open in July 2012 with a fun water park and beautiful gardens. Ehden luxury chalets with private lap pools and jacuzzis set within a larger fun pool offer overnight stay while day trips are also available in the garden. Look for musical and cultural events as well as surprise pool parties.
Sama Ehden 961 70 070095
Ehden Adventure 961 3 491493
Kroum Ehden 961 70 722502
Ehden Montain Activity 961 3 754928

8 - Try the food
Vegetarians beware! This is the place for kibbeh. Try all the different kinds, from kibbeh nayye (raw meat) to kibbeh krass the specialty of the region, which is basically grilled meat, shaped into a ball. Whether for lunch or dinner, one of the many outdoor restaurants specializing in Lebanese cuisine  in Mar Sarkis, or on the pass with amazing views of the Qadisha Valley, will definitely offer a treat. One of the better known restaurants, Al Fardous has a great mountain view. However there are many more traditional Lebanese restaurants to choose from. For something different try French cuisine at Pinch, with marvelous view of apple and pear orchards. 
Al Fardous 961 6 560605
Al Wardi 961 6 560332
Adan 961 6 561332
Nabaa Jouit 961 3 751292
Pinch 961 3 823900

9 - Join the Festival  
Summer in Lebanon is always fun filled thanks to the number of local festivals in towns and villages throughout the country. With the Ehdeniyat International Festival 2012, hundreds of people are expected to flock to Ehden to enjoy its lively atmosphere and talented performers. The festival is representative of both the traditional and modern cultures found in Ehden.

10 - Stay the night
Accommodation in Ehden ranges from high end hotels to quaint cabine. A charming local family runs the La Reserve wooden huts, on the edge of Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve, Beit el Ward, a 19th century mansion, has been stunningly renovated into a boutique hotel on the town's busy Al Midan square. Other hotels include Ehden Country Club, Abchi Hotel, Belmont Hotel, Ehden Hotel, Cetre Nabeh Jouit and La Mairie Hotel.
La Reserve 961 3 751292
Beit el Ward 961 6 561016
Ehden Coutry Club 961 6 560550
Abshi Hotel 961 6 561101
Belmont Hotel 961 6 560102
Centre Nabeh Jouit Hotel 961 6 561310
La Mairie Hotel 961 6 560108

10 things to do in Faraya, Faqra and Kfardebian
Beirut's winter getaway is home to a sleepy village, a members only chalet  grounds and a ski  resort, respectively. The main ski area is located in Mzaar Kfardebian, a 20 minute drive from the village of Faraya. The season here stretches from December to  March, and the slopes are similar to the Alps with peaks as high as 2,465m

1. Hit the slopes
Mzaar mountain Resort and Spa has 80 kilometers of ski tracks and a new international partner Courchevel of the French Alps. Situated just above the village of Ouyoune El Simane in Kfardebian, the area boasts numerous ski runs with a capacity of 20,000 skiers per hour, 18 ski lifts and 10 snow grooming machines. Split in three connected domains: Refuge (accessible only from Mzaar InterContinental Hotel), Jonction (principal domain, with a new ski park for free stylers) and Wardeh (the latest extension), the slopes are categorized into three difficulty levels, "Black" being the most advanced it's an excellent spot for downhill and cross country skiing,  snowboarding or any other snow related activity under the sun.  For live statues updates on the slopes go to

2.Be a snow bunny
Enjoy apres ski activities which start in he afternoon and end late in the evening The Mzaar Mountain Resort and Spa is home to the veteran snow bunnies, who tend to spend their time sipping hot chocolate by a crackling fire or getting their winter tan on the Refuge Terrace.  Rejuvenate the senses with a massage and a wide range of beauty treatments at Lea Thermes du Mzaar - a popular activity in winter so booking ahead of times is advised. But, to truly  experience the local culture, your best bet is to make a friend. Socialites spend most of their mornings making house calls (chalet calls to be exact), so a cool new friend will be your ticket into the subhiyah (morning coffee) crowd.

3.Taste the food
Mouthwatering saj stations, fancy restaurants to keep you warm and well fed in the snowy weather, or just casual cafes, this ski region has it all. Try La Cabane(accessible by skidoo or skiing) a restaurant serving local dishes and you can dance to oriental music until the  wee hours.  There is the new Urban - part of White and Iris family (961 76 070605) in Faqra, as well as a couple of trusted favorites like Olio/Soto (961 78 944496) Chez Michel (961 9 300614) with its  familiar stone sign, is a longtime favorite serving exquisite Lebanese food.  Try Les Airelles 9961 9 340100) at the InterContinental Mzaar or Italian at La Tavola. Chez Mansour (961 9 341000) is a casual cozy eatery and Le Montagnou's (961 9 341441) fondue and raclette is the perfect winter feast. For Lebanese cuisine there's the new Khebze W Zeytoune at the San Antonio Hotel or a whole slew of local favorites in Faraya village.
Al Arrab - Faraya Square 961 9 321331
Coin Vert - Faraya Al Saha 961 9 321556
Nabeh El Delbeh - Faraya 961 9 321500
Sama Faraya - Tamer Land Hotel 961 9 321268  g

4. Take in history
You might want to see a couple of unique landmarks that are worth exploring, after getting your fill of the snow. Checkout the two springs, one named for milk and the other for honey (Nebaa el Laban and Nebaa el Assal) that cascade down two steep valleys. Discover the Canaanite temple dedicated to the fertility goddess Astarte that stands just above the waterfall from the Nebaa el  Laban spring. The area is home to well preserved temples, columns, altars, tombs and a Roman temple that is partly cut out of rock. Dedicated to the god Adonis,  the temple has six Corinthians columns overlooking a sacrificial altar. At the summit of Mzaar mountain, at 2,476 , you will find the highest chapel in the Middle East, built from the ruins of a fortress.And, the breath taking natural bridge of Jisr el Hajar near Faqra, arching over Nebaa  el Laban River is one of the greatest wonders of the world. This unique erosion made arch risen  38 meters over the river and offers memorable views during sunsets. Try to spot the fossilized seashells embedded in the surrounding strata, dating back 200 million years.

5. Buy Mouneh 
If you are for natural healthy, homemade Lebanese mouneh, then you've come to the perfect place. Faraya meaning the "land of fruit and vegetables", has very fertile soil, but is excellent for juicy apples and pears found in warmer seasons. Best known for its local arishe, Faraya village is filled with small stores that sell all kinds of delicious traditional foods and drinks, such ad labneh, pickles, makdous, cheese, and mazaher. Al Baladi, (961 9 333058) a brand known for their arishe and mouneh is also available inside the San Antonio Hotel.

6. Have an outdoor adventure
Skiing is delightful, but you want to tie yourself down to one activity  if you use your imagination, you'll find there are countless adventures you can have. A picnic on the slopes, or an outdoor barbecue might seem like a good way to start. Be creative and indulge your senses of adventure. The region is known for extreme sports, which take place all year round, in winter enjoy alpine skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing and snow mobiling. The rest of the year, guests can go mountain biking, hiking, climbing, paragliding, clay pigeon shooting horse riding, rappeling, or go off-roading with an ATV or 4x4.

7. Enjoy the Festivals
The Mzaar Winter Festival is probably the hippest all day event in the area. Scheduled for the end of February, Big Air competitions, bands and free night skiing are a standard every year. The Ski & Fashion Festival is also a highly anticipated event scheduled for the beginning of March; call the Lebanese Victoria's Secret fashion show meets the snow Top models parade around in their lingerie and guests enjoy the drinks from the Refuge Terrace. A plan for an international festival, like last year's Italy on ice Festival, is scheduled for the season but the details are still hush hush..

8. Party till dawn 
Nothing beats partying in fancy chalets and chimney-lit cabins as you warm up with fine local wines and spirits, And, if you feel like exploring the town's party hubs, begin your evening at Les Caves de Chez Michel Steakhouse and Lounge (961 9 300060) for premium wine and a full weekend entertainment program. Last year's outdoor ice bar was an epic spectacle. Powder (961 9 341400) and Le Montagnou as longtime favorites. Rikky'z (961 9 341400) known as the biggest wooden house in the Middle East, is another party-goer's favorite, open year round and infamous for their over the top events.If you manage to maker it to the top of the hill on New Year's Eve, you'll find the party spilling over onto the snowy streets.

9. Who needs Hollywood?-
On the top of Faraya mountain, giant Hollywood style white letters read "FARAYA" for those who haven't yet realized where they are sponsored by citizens of the village and erected by four locals in 2010, it only goes to show that glitz and glamour doesn't just exist it prevails. Hike up the mountain to reach it and don't forget to take your picnic basket. Pose for the perfect Facebook shot right in front of the sign, and unlike Hollywood, fame in Faraya is very much attainable.

10. Stay overnight
The 5 star InterContinental Mountain Resort and Spa (961 9 340100) has superb ski in and out facilities. The brand new Aux Cimes du Mzaar (961 70 341002) boutique hotel, the 4 star Hotel Eleven (961 9 341741) the 3 star Merab Hotel (961 9 341000) and the San Antonio Hotel (961 70 335656) as well as the 2 star Auberge Suisee (961 70 103222) are a nearby altenative. For those who want to fend for themselves as far as their meals go, try the Mzaarville Chalets ( 961 71 773911) facing the ski slopes.
When staying in Faqra (one of the world's first private ski resorts) you can't the slopes if you are not staying at a posh hotel or a private chalet. Located near the Roman ruins, the 4 star Terre Brunne Hotel (961 9 300060) is an alpine sanctuary offering the most breathtaking views of the area. the 4 star Auberge de Faqra (961 9 300600) and the new Urban (961 76 070605) ate also nearby.
In Faraya village try Faraya Vllage Club (961 9 320666), Chateau D'Eau Hotel (961 9 341424) or Auberge Le Valais (961 9 341227)

Fourzol (Zahle - 5 km north of Zahle - Distance from Beirut 58 km)
The name Fourzol has its origins in the Aramaic language meaning iron mine. This Bekaa town is considered to have the oldest Christian heritage in Lebanon and contains many archaeological sites: strongholds, funerary caves, the remnants of a castle that overlooks Baalbeck, and the scant remains of a Roman temple.
It is also worthwile to visit Wadi al Habis (Valley of the Hermit), a two and a half kilometer away from the center of the town. The place was used as a sanctuary for monks and hermits, and there are a number of tombs, shrines and rock-cut sanctuaries from Roman and Byzantine times.
In the northern part of town, at the top of a hill, a number of sculpted monuments can be seen. From this viewpoint , the remains of an ancient quarry can also be seen on the opposite hill, where sculptors of bygone days left imprints of their carvings.

Hadath Baalbeck (Baalbeck Al Hermel Distance from Beirut 76 km)
The origin of the word Hadath is Syriac and literally means "new". The village's name was merged with the name Baalbeck because of its proximity to Baalbeck. Hadath Baalbeck is notable for the ruins of Temple of Apollo, dating back to the 1st century B.C.The temple is made up of a rectangular shaped patio with a host of carved and engraved stones scattered all around. In addition, a 2 meter high votive altar with representations on its sides, as well as numerous stone monuments, are found throughout the village.

Harissa is a mountain village located 650 meters above sea level, it is home to an important Lebanese pilgrimage site Our Lady of Lebanon. The village is located 20 km north of Beirut, and it is accessible from the coastal city of Jounieh either by road or by Cable Car. It attracts both pilgrims and tourists who want to enjoy views of the bay of Joumieh.
The pilgrimage site is a huge 15 ton bronze and painted white of Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon with her arms outstretched. The statue was made at the end of the 19th century  and inaugurated in 1908. Inside the statue's base there is a small chapel.  A huge modernistic Maronite cathedral built of concrete and glass stands right beside the stone.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II visited Our Lady of Lebanon on 10 May 1997.
The way to Harissa is not long. From Fouad Chehab Stadium in Jounieh, the road follows a smooth course through Bkerke, Seat of the Maronite Patriarch then Daroun - Harissa. Visitors come from all over Lebanon and the world to the sanctuary.   They light a candle, burn the  incense, bow
At night the Basilica takes the colors of purity of Our Lady of Lebanon
before the Virgin and attend the masses. Most of the one million and five hundred thousand visitors are pilgrims seeking spiritual counseling, healing and confession. Some express their faith fervor by walking inside the sanctuary barefoot and even climbing to the statue of Mary, the Lady of Lebanon, on their knees. Harissa is in the heart of Lebanon. In 1904 the construction of the chapel was launched and given the name of Our Lady of Lebanon. It was the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Conception. Since its inauguration in 1908, the sanctuary became a national pilgrimage destination  for the Lebanese. Inside the chapel, a statue dedicated to out Lady of the Light was installed, It was sculpted by Lebanon's famous artist Youssef el Howayek in 1954 for the occasion of the Marial Year. During six months of that year, the statue was carried in  procession to 426 villages across Lebanon. 
Inside the Basilica : the nave carries worshipers to the Holy Mother
The 8.5 meter tall white statue of the Virgin offers a splendid vision from its towering location. As it stands on the chapel, the statue can be seen from afar. It overlooks the Mediterranean and the mountains. The panoramic view it offers is one of the most beautiful in Lebanon. Pilgrims assend the 104 steps of the spiral staircase to reach the statue. The climb could be challenging for many. But they are led by a spiritual fervor, a vow and the determination to be close to Mary and probably to touch the sky. Spectacular scenery is within close reach. Tourists are attracted as well to admire the amazing panoramic view of Jounieh Bay and Beirut in the distance. A cable car locally called 'Teleferique" carries them to the site.
The sanctuary is perched at almost six hundred meters above sea level amidst a protected natural fortification of oak and pine trees that extends from Bkerke to Harissa. Cedar trees were planted some century ago around the old chapel. The trees scent mingles with the burning incense that emanates from the churches around the old chapel.. A huge modern basilica was built in 1971 on a slightly higher level behind Our Lady of the Light Chapel. It's large  enough to host 2000 to 3000 persons. The immense flow of worshipers made it necessary. It's shape was symbolically associated with a Phoenician ship, the cedar of Lebanon as well two hands joined in prayer in front of the Virgin whose statue is seen through a huge 42 meter window.
The church located under the Basilica is adorned by stained glass. Inside one can see a statue of The Lady of Lourdes  offered by Pope Jean Paul II in 1997. It's one of the five examplary statues that exist today. For every person who seeks spiritual renewal there is the Church of Pardon as well as Berthania which was built in 2005 as a center for spiritual retreats.
In 2013, many occasions were celebrated at Our Lady of Lebanon sanctuary. The works of reconstructing the basilica were achieved in the most amazing way without tearing it sown. During this Year of Faith, as declared by Pope Benoit XVI, Lebanon was consecrated to the pure heart of the Virgin Mary. The wooden statue of Our Lady of the Light left the chapel for the second time in its history after 59 years. In 40 days, the statue was carried to 333 villages and towns to finally regain its place by the altar of the old chapel. One can see it standing 175 cm tall. On her head is a crown offered by President Camille Chamoun in 1954.
In 2013, H.E. President Michel Sleiman and First Lady Wafaa Sleiman offered 59 beads of pearl and turquoise. The cross and icon attached to the rosary's gold chain are both from the 19th century. In front of the statue, one enters the world of silence and inner contemplation.
During May, a month dedicated to Virgin Mary,  pilgrims take different ways, to reach the sanctuary. Some walk from Beirut and up along the main road to Harissa. Others take the cable car while few follow the Path of the Light through the woods.
According to Reverend Khalil Elouan Rector of the sanctuary, people of different religions and sects find at our Lady of Lebanon sanctuary the peacefulness they seek. It's in front of the statue of La Pieta where they leave their burning candles and even their Buddhist incense.
Many visitors come regularly to Harissa but inhabitants in the surroundings drive through every morning on their way to work; a habit to start the day faithfully.

Hasbaya is a town in Lebanon, situated at the foot of Mount Hermon, overlooking a deep amphitheater from which a brook flows to the Hasbani. It is one of the most important and oldest towns of the Mount Hermon area. Hasbaya is the capital of Wadi el Taym, a long fertile valley running parallel to the western foot of Mount Hermon. Watered by the Hasbani river, the low hills of Wadi el Taym are covered with rows of silver green olive trees, its most important source of income. Villagers also produce honey, grapes, figs, prickly pears, pine nuts and other fruit.
Mount Hermon 2745 meters high, is a unifying presence throughout the Wadi el Taym. This imposing mountain held great religious significance for the Canaanites and Phoenicians who called it the seat of the All High . Hasbaya is an important historical site, but little of its ancient monuments survive. The oldest standing ruins date to the Crusader period.
Hasbaya keeps its traditions alive and its workshops are still producing traditional clothing such as abayas, caftans and turbans. Hasbaya is an attractive town full of history.
A good deal of this history transpired at the huge citadel that is today Hasbaya's chief claim to fame. Owned by the Chehab Emirs, the citadel forms the major part of a Chehabi compound - a group of buildings surrounding an unpaved central square 150 meters long and 100 meters wide, Several medieval houses and a mosque make up the rest of the compound , which covers a total of 20,000 square meter. The citadel is situated on a hill overlooking a river which encircles it from the north. The known history of the structure begins with the Crusaders, but it may go back even earlier to an Arab fortification or a Roman building. Won by t5he Chehabs from the Crusaders in 1170, the fortress was rebiuld by its new owners.

A small quite village lodged at the edge of the Qadisha Valley, overlooking the southern branch of this valley.
Hasroun is notable for its well preserved Ottoman era stone houses with red tile roofs. It owes its nickname of the Rose of Mount Lebanon  to its predominantly red tiled roof houses. From Hasroun a path desends to the ancient church of Mar Michael and the monastery of Deir Mar Yaqoub, then continues down into the Qadisha Valley.

Hermon mountain (Jabal el Sheikh)
Jabal el Sheikh is the name given by locals to the biblical Hermon Mountain. The snow, almost eternal in its many spots, crowns its peak like a white honorable turban on a sheikh's head. Trekkers have been climbing the mountain since the 19th century. Nowadays, the tour consists of a two day trek including camping at the peak Once you are at its foot, Rashaya al Wadi offers a picture of an authentic traditional town. It's an opportunity to discover the old cobbled streets and the citadel where national leaders were imprisoned during the French Mandate.
The starting point is at 1800 meters altitude. You definetly need warm clothes since the temperature could reach zero. A13 km ascent of 3-6 hours separetes you from the 2814 meter summit. There is a UN post that's said to be the their highest position in the world. A 360 degree panoramic view offers unforgettable sceneries. Such sceneries imprint your spirits with images of of open space embracing stretches of the Bekaa Valley with Qaraoun Lake as well as plains of Isael and Tiberias Lake. A flamboyant pink sunset casts its glow on the arid mountains.

 Ia'at (Baalbeck - El Hermel Distance from Beirut 90 km)
The name Ia'at originates from the Syriac word meaning "patio, tower or guardhouse." Evidence linking Ia'at to the city of Baalbeck indicate that it was used as a leisure resort by the Romans, and attest to its antiquity. Some even say that Ia'ar is as old as Baalbeck, the city of the sun, itself. A column made from local limestone with a mutilated cornice stands high in the middle of the town, with Roman style motifs decorating its lengh. Other sites of interests in Ia'at include remnants of old oil mills and grape presses.

The Jeita Grottoes 20 km north of Beirut, the breathtaking Jeita grottoes have welcomed thousands of visitors. The two breathtaking grottoes superimposed and linked by cable car, sink at thousand meters inside the mountains.
The lower grotto may be visited with a bark that leads you into narrow underground passages and lakes and to the source of the River Nahr el Kalb, The upper grotto may be explored on foot but accompanied by ba guide. Stalactites and stalagmites evoking the fauna and the flora, water falls, lakes, natural columns, a surrealistic world that intrigues the spectator.
The name Jeita is derived from the old Semitic language, meaning water roaring and noise. Jeita is famous for its grotto, which is considered among the most important nature tourism features of Lebanon. Jeita Grotto is characterized by two layers, an upper dry part and a lawer part where an internal riveroriginating from the Nahr Al Kalb (Dog River) flows. Over millions of years, limewater has shapped wonderful rock formations inside the cave.
Jeita Grotto was discovered in 1836 by an American preacher, William Thompson. Several American, English, and French discovery trips were made afterwards to the grotto between 1892, and 1940, and the lenght of the discovered area reached 1,750 m. Starting the 1940s, several Lebanese explorers went further to discover new areas in the grotto, until the explored lenght of the cave reached 7 km.
The upper grotto remained undiscovered until 1958, when a group of Lebanese explorers penetrated it through the lower part and explored a depth of 2,130 m. inside. The length of both grottos today exceeds 9km.
After being closed during the Lebanese war, the Ministry of Tourism rehabilited and equipped the grotto and opened it to the public during the summer of 1996. Taking pictures is totally prohibted inside both caves.
Jeita is also home to another cave close to the river, which includes vestiges dating back thousands of years. These archeological remains are evidence that prehistoric men used to produce swords in that cave.

Jezzine 22 km from Saida is the most famous summer and touristic resort of South Lebanon because of  its beautiful landscape and its 40m high waterfalls. Vital public facilities contributed inmaking Jezzine the most important town in the area.
The town is located on the slopes of Tumat Niha and is surrounded with pine forests, vineyards and orchards. From the top of the huge rocky promontory known as al Shir, the visitor enjoys a breathtaking waterfall and a view of the surrounding localities scattered in the midst of a fertile plain and protected by mountains.
Jezzine is a historical town, where ancient sarcophagi and Crusader remains were found. To this remote past also belongs a ruined old mosque.
The most famous historical monuments are however most recent:
- The Saint Antoine convent belonging to the Antoinr order
- The Serail
- The Farid Serhal Palace, a monumental building in the oriental style and the famous Jezzine knife industry.

Ain Wazein - El Chouf
Ain Wazein Natural Grotto
The Grotto is located in Ain Wazein on an altitude of 1040 meters above sea level. It is 54 kms from Beirut, and 9 kms away from Beiteddine, center of the Shouf district. The Grotto that extends 426 meters lies on an Ain Waein-Batloun road, near the norther end of Ain Wazein. The grotto was discovered in 2003. The preparation process lasted three years thanks to personal efforts. The grotto includes a set of passageways, crevices or halls, and vaults of varied width and height. These natural formations resultsed from accumulated water and its pressure. The grotto includes  many distinct formations of stalagmites and stalactites, and other dangling rock formations. It is one of the most beautiful grottos found in Lebanon, with its varied natural calcareous formations. Ain Wazein natural grotto is considered an important highly visited tourist site. It is situated in a beautiful natural environment. The grotto enjoys a scientific, as well as historic significant. It is considered to be a continuous undergrount tourist site, and it serves in discovering the subsurface world. Ain Wazein grotto has beautiful calcareous formations found in its passages and sides. It is possible to organize scientific tours for high school and university students. This is possible because all geologic elements are clear in the grotto. It is possible also to carry out scientific reserarch on its structural features.

Kefraya (West Bekaa - distance from Beirut 65 km)
Kefraya is a village in the Western Bekaa known for its vineyards. Bekaa is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Roman, the Bekaa Valley was a major source of agricultural produce and today it remains Lebanon's most important farming region. The village also hosts many agro-food industries and is home to Lebanon's famous vineyards and many wineries. Winemaking is a tradition that goes back 6,000 years in Lebanon. With an average altitude of 1,000 m above sea level the valley offers superb conditions for grape production. Abundant winter rain and sunshine in the summer help produce excellent grapes. There are more than a dozen wineries in the Bekaa Valley producing over six million bottles a year. 
The town's name comes from the Syriac word meaning "villages." Kefraya has remnants of ancient inhabitants that can be traced back to the Phoenicians and Roman eras. This town is famous for its grapes and its winery. Kefraya is a meeting point that joins West Bekaa to the Shouf District.

Khan al Franj (Sidon)
A Khan is a two storied building that served as a cross between an inn, a stable, a storehouse, and a marketplace. It was the center of trade and economic activity in a city. The Khan al Franj, which means "Caravan of the Franks," was built by Fakhreddine in the 17th century to accomodate merchants and goods. Sidon's khan is the largest and best preserved khan in Lebanon.

Lebanon Mountain Trail
The LMT is the first long-distance hiking trail in Lebanon. It extends from Al Qbaiyat in north Lebanon to Marjayoun in the south a 440 km path between 600 and 2,000 m above sea level. The trail showcases the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Lebanon's mountains. The trail is divided into 26 one day sections, and between 10 and 24 km long. Along the LMT you will discover 1 World Heritage Site, 2 Biosphere Reserves, and 3 protected areas. Guesthouse accomodation is available in most villages.
Experience the best rural Lebanon, on foot! 

Marjeyoun stands majestically at a hill facing Mount Hermon (Jabal el Sheikh) to the east, Beaufort 1000 years old CrusaderCastle above the Litani River and overlooking Mount Amel (Jabel Amel) and the fertile plains of Sahil Marjeyoun. The town owes its name to a large number of water sources and springs forming small rivers, which made the surrounding plain very fertile.
It was a wide variety of trees and is famous for its beautiful landscape and mild climate. The most important source is the al Dardarah spring to the east , near al Khiam not far from the southern Lebanese border. This is surrounded by outdoor restaurants serving Lebanese food. Several banks, hotels and hospitals are found in Jdeideh Marjeyoun.

10 things to do in Metn
1. Aqueduct of Zubeida
Aqueduct of Zubeida

Heading up towards Beit Mery, in the secluded river valley between Mansourieh and Hazmieh, you will find the remains of a Roman aqueduct that was built to convey water across the Beirut River onwards to the city. Built in 273 AD during the reign of Roman emperor Aurelian, the arched bridge like structure over the aqueduct is known today as Qanater el Sett Zubaida or the Arches of Mistress Zubaida

2. Beit Mery
The three hills, which make up this town, have been home to summer vacationers since the times of the Phoenicians and Romans. Its pleasant weather and lush pine  forests overlooking Lebanon's valleys and sea make it a favorite resort spot for those trying to beat the heat. Beit Mery (derived from the Aramaic term for "the house of my lord or master") has two prehistoric archaeological sites where flint industries have been found by Jesuit archaeologists. One is on the right bank of the Beirut River, south southwest of the town, the other is east of the road from Beit Mery to Deir el Kalaa, on a sloping plateau facing the junction of the Nahr  Meten and Nahr Jamani.
Municipality 961 4 870702
Deir El Kalaa Country Club 961 4 972989
Al Janna restaurant 961 4 873120
Tiger restaurant 961 4 870564

3. Deir El Kalaa
Deir el Kalaa

This Maronite Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, and its ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins, rests on three levels. At the top are the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to the god "baal marqod" over which a church dedicated to Saint John was  constructed in 1750. The old church is incorporated into the present early 20th century structure. A short walk down the hill leads to a small second AD temple to the goddess June. Of particular note is the mosaic floor of a 6th Byzantine church with one of the reused temple columns on place. Nearby is a remarkably well preserved public bath. Once a Roman Byzantine settlement, the entire site is littered with remains of more temples, a second bath and a colonnaded street. 961 4 870080

4. Al Bustan Hotel
Al Bustan Hotel

A local landmark in Beit Mery and the site of an annual festival of music and art, Al Bustan or 'the orchard' in Arabic is a five star hotel with a commanding view over Beorut and the Mesiterranean. Founded by Emile Bustani and his wife Laura in 1962, it houses a growing collection  of art, sculpture, and antiques in its 117 room facility. 961 4 972980

5. Brummana 

Printania Palace Hotel Gardens

The house of Rammana the god of air, storm and thunder, doesn't seem like where you would find thousands of tourists eager to escape the summer heat, but despite its namesake, Brummana has a relatively cool climate all year long. The town's 6km long main street is lined with shops restaurants, bars and cafes that come alive after dark. If you're in the mood for French cuisine, Le Gargotier is a quaint spot that's especially romantic in the brisk winter months and for traditional Lebanese fare, Brummana has some of the best restaurants in the country. Their odd world charm and spectacular views of the city offer guests a one of kind experience. If you'd like to spend the weekend in town, there are numeroushotels to choose from including the charming Printania Palace Hotel, the iconic Grand Hills Hotel & Spa, or for the budget conscious Hotel Le Crillon
Printania Palace Hotel 961 4 862000
Grand Hills Hotel and Spa 961 4 868888
Hotel Le Crillion 961 4 865555
Le Gargotier 961 4 960562
Burj El Hamam 961 4 862211
Mounir 961 4 873900
Kar Fakhreddine 961 4 960407

6. Bits and pieces
For those that like bric a brac, out for Raja Raad's collection of old pieces from Lebanese houses that you can buy, anything from an old window to a marble slab. 961 3 450936

7. Ayn Asalaam 
Brummana High School
Brummana wouldn't be what it is today without the Swiss missionary Theophilus Waldemeier and the Quakers. In 1873, he climbed the steep mountain on horseback with his eight children and purchased a vast stretch of land called "Berket al Ghanem" (the Pool of the Conqueror) which was a later changed to "Ayn al Salam", (the Fountain of Peace). He did this with the help of the Society of Friends in England who gave him the funds with the intent that he would build a school for the local girls and boys. The isolated mountain area quickly flourished and was even the location of the first tennis court in the Middle East. Brummana High School continues to operate under the same principles of peace and goodwill till this day. It hosts numerous cultural and educational events throughout the year including the May festival, a summer retreat for children and an international tennis tournament BHS 961 4 960430

8. Deir Mar Chaaya 
Monastery Mar Chaaya 

In 1700 the Antonin Maronite Order was founded in the Monastery of Mar Chaaya by Patriarch Gabriel of Blaouza. The modern day structure is surrounded by several community based activities and meeting areas. Before you reach the valley, the main road heading down is a popular walking track especially in summer. As you head uphill, you'll find a small chapel on your right hand side, as well as organic market with fresh produce and a small zoo. All of the products sold in the store are grown and cultivated on the grounds including a selection of wine from locally grown grapes. Dairy products are sourced from the numerous cows on the property and farm fresh eggs are always a treat to find each morning. The kids will love watching the animals prance around, and when the weather gets warmer then can even go on a pone ride 961 4 821813

9. Seven churches 

On the Thursday before Easter known as Maundy or Holy Thursday, the washing of the feet is a traditional component of the celebration (symbolizing Jesus washing the Apostles feet) followed by an informal visit to seven churches. Those who follow tradition today usually need a car to embark on such a journey, but if you 're in the area of Brummana, you can do it by foot. Starting from Printania Palace Hotel, head straight through Brummana's old town and the first church is Mar Gerius of the Greek Orthodox faith, followed by Mar Chaaya Maronite church. Continue walking to Mar Charbel church and you'll see two very old chapels, both named Mar Gerius across the street. Your last stop here will be the Azarieh church located on the grounds of a school belonging to the Azarieh nun's order. A  short hop to the main street is the location of the seventh and final church, Mar Elias in front of Farrouj el Achkar, where you'll find the best chicken sandwiches in town.
Also see the Church of the Prophet Isaiah - the oldest structure in Brummana dating back to 333 B.C.
Municipality 961 4 860860
Farrouj el Achkar 961 4 862443

10. Baabdat
Since the opening of the highway a few years ago, this mainly summer resort town has blossomed into a full fledged community with residents living all year round. The name Baabdat is derived from the Aramaic words "beit abdutha" meaning home of the adoration. Famous locals include the former president of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, film director Carmen Labaki, director/actress Nadine Labaki and Maxime Chaya - the first Lebanese  to climb Everest. The views from Baabdat are stunning. It has numerous historic churches like Saint Mamas Church built in the 16th century. For those that like exploring it also has many springs. Before heading down to Beirut, stop by Azrak for an ice cream cone in Chamees and make the ride back, a refreshing one.
Municipality 961 4 820097
Azrak pastry and ice cream 961 3 633022
Eat at Le Tournant Restaurant 961 3 459523
Stay at Colibri Hotel 961 4 820269

Getting there
The easiest way to get to this area of Metn (the mountains) the Emile Lahoud highway from Nahr el Mot and get off on the Baabdat exit. If you near Sin el Fil, Beit Mery is easily accessible from the Mkalles roundabout. Get on the road heading east. You will drive through Mansourieh and Ain Saadeh before you reach Beit Mery on the mountain top.Follow the road to Brummana and Baabdeth, where you can take the highway heading back towards Beirut. The scenic road is even better on your way down with beautiful panoramic sea views,

Mleeta  - A Tourist Landmark about The Resistance
The Abyss:
A structural scenic display built on a 3,000 m2 area representing the Zionist defeat. It's made of several armed vehicles and weapons from the Israeli enemy army and its militia of Lahed. These items had been amassed by the resistance since 1982 until the July war of 2006.

The Path:
It is a rugged bushy trail where thousands of resistance fighters were positioned during the years of occupation. From there they launched hundred of military operations against enemy outposts as well as inside the occupied security zone. it also displays scenes of the different fighting positions of the resistance fighters with a descending trail of almost 250 m in length. The path contains the following scenes:

- Sayyed Abbas Barricade:
The former secretary general of Hezbollah, martyr Sayyed Abbas Al-Musawi, used this barricade. There he prayed and met, embraced and inspired the resistance fighters.
- Reinforcement;
A logistic mission during which the resistance fighters transported a variety of instruments and supplies from the backlines to the military frontlines.
- Construction:
A logistic mission during which the resistance fighters worked on entrechment, fortification and bunker building against enemy salvo.
- Missile Power:
A military unit that is commissioned with short, medium, and long range surface to surface missiles whose aim is to deter the enemy from targeting the Lebanese civilians and civil infrastructure.
- Combat Casualty Care:
A specialized first aid unit equipped to treat and rescue resistance fighters injured on the field during military operations.
- The Cave:
One of the posts that the resistance constructed in the mountains that faced israeli outposts. Over a course of three years, an excess of tghousand men dug and prepared it reaching 200 m in depth. It consists of living and rest rooms that the resistance utilized to embark on their field operations during the entire period of confrontations.
- The Tunnel:
Is the cave's exit where excavation tools are displayed.
- The Look Out:
This innovative area overlooks the villages and cities of Iqlim Al Tuffah regions, Zahrani. Nabatyeh, Saida and Tyre, the areas that were liberated by the resistance in 1985.
- The line of fire:
Here some of the resistance weapons are displayed along a 200 m ascending trail. It shows how the resistance has developed its military structure since 1982 blending classical with innovative guerilla tactics as well as ancient with modern military techniques which is professionally utilized on both the tactical and manoevring fields. The line of fire consists of the following scenes:
- Frontline guarding:  a preventive military mission with the aim to secure the resistance locations and frontline villages against enemy infiltration. Tens of thousands of resistance fighters kept this mission active over the past years of occupation, year round, day and night.
- Infantry Support Artillery: this is the resistance artillery unit.
- Special Force: a highly trained and fully equipped infantry special force.
- Anti-Tank Unit: a military unit that is responsible for the production and planting of explosives against enemy infantry and vehicles.
- Sujud barricade: the resistance built this barricade in 1987 for surveillance and for firing at the Sujud enemy outpost. During the years of occupation, the enemy, despite hundreds of attempts, could not discover or destroy it.

The Liberation Province:
It's a nesting area at the end of the Path. Here the spirit of liberation in 2000 is obvious along with the most important weapons used by the resistance fighters in July war of 2006.
The Hill:
An innovative area that symbolizes the martyrs, situated at the highest point of Mleeta and overlooks several former Israeli outposts.

Moukhtara is an important Shouf town where many traditional houses still stand. The name Al Moukhtara meaning "the chosen,"
Various palaces and large residences built in the traditional Lebanese architecture style can be found in this old town. The Joumblat palace, in its present form, dates back to the 17th century, and is among the most prominent palaces in the area.
It is characterized by a combination of Orientalist and Italian artistic styles. It was built on the foundations of buildings that date back to the 17th century but were destroyed in conflicts between the Joumblatt sheiks and Bachir Al Chehabi II  in 1825. The palace is distinguished by its colored glass facades, verandas, ralls, windows, marble columns and decorated arches. This fusion of Orientalist and Italian elements is representative of much of the 19th century architecture in this area.

Mussailha Fort
Mussailha Fort differs from those of Tripoli and Smar Jbeil in two major ways. The first is that Mussaylha sits in the heart of a valley, surrounded by mountains that give a visitor any aura of insignificance. The second is that the fort is no more than 400 years old, according to scholars. A stone bridge runs over an angry brown river leading to the castle built on a long narrow limestone rock. According to historians, Mussailha was built by Fakhreddine II  in 1624.

Niha (10 km north of Zahle)
The name Niha originates from the Syriac word meaning the rested or the dreamer. The town is reached by taking the Chtaura-Zahle road to Ableh, where a sign marks the turn to the village of Niha. Located in the village is an imposingly beautiful temple to the Syro-Phoenician god Hadaranes, which has been restored by the General Directorate of Antiquities. At its entrance, it retains a well preserved relief carving of a priest making an offering to the deities. There is another smaller temple nearby, presumably dedicated to the divinity related to water. Though unrestored, this temple retains the traces of its past magnificence. After visiting Niha, a steep dirt-path, usually traveled by foot, leads to Hosn Niha (the fortress of Niha) and two partially preserved Roman temple.

Qana of Galilee: Qana el Jalil
The name's Aramaic origin means "the nest' or "the village, house and shelter."In Qana Al-Jalil, Christ is said to have performed his first miracle, that of turning water into wine at a wedding he was attending with his mother and the disciples. Eusebius, a 3rd century authority on the history of the church, and St Jerome, a 4th century scholar, chronicle Qana as the site of the miracle. In addition, a number of basins have been discovered in the area where the miracle is said to have taken place. Some scholars take these discoveries as affirmation of the line in the Bible of St John, which describes the site of the miracle as having "six stone basins..." To the north of the town is the Cave of Qana where early stone sculptures thought to depict a group of 13 people - Christ and his disciples- have been found   
This is the village where Christ is reported to have turned water into wine at a wedding party. A cave and carvings on the rocks near the cave are evidence suggesting that the event took place here, although it is a matter of scholarly debate. The Ministry of Tourism recently refurbished the site.
Qana also spelled Cana is a village in southern Lebanon located 10 kilometers southeast of the city of Tyre.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have performed his first miracle of turning water into into wine at Qana in Galilee. Some Christians especially Lebanese Christians believe Qana to have been the actual location of this event. However, a tradition dating back to the 8th century identifies Qana with the modern village of Kafrkamina about 7 kilometers northeast of Al Nasseriye in Israel.

Qadisha Valley 

Lebanon, Kadisha Valley, Bcharre Town, St Saba Church Photographic Print
The Qadisha Valley lies within Bcharre and Zgharta towns in the north of Lebanon. The valley is a deep gorge carved by the Qadisha river, also known as the Abu Ali river when it reaches Tripoli. Qadisha means "Holy" in Syriac, and the valley sometimes called the Holy Valley has sheltered Christian monastic communities for many centuries. The Qadisha Valley's many natural caves have been used as shelters and for burials back as far as the Paleolithic period. Since the early centuries of Christianity the Holy Valley has served as a refuge for those in search of solitude. Historians believe that the Qadisja valley has had monastic communities continuously since the earliest years of Christianity. It was also at times a destination for Muslim mystics or Sufi who also visited it for meditation and solitude. The first printing press in the middle east was built in 1610 at the Monastery of Qozhaya in the Qadisha valley. It used Syriac characters. Also this printing press was the first to print in the Arabic language.
In 1998 UNESCO added the valley to the list of world heritage sites because of its importance as the site of some of the earliest christian monastic settlement in the world and its continued example of vearly Christian faith.

Rachana, International Sculptor Atelier
The village is located on a small hill overlooking the Mediterranean in Batroun region. Its colors change according to season. Proceeding uphill from the highway at Jisr el Madfoun, you will spot modern sculptures in a pillar shape at the entrance of the road. Follow it because it leads you to the ehxibition site. Along the way, sculptures transform the road into a winding alley. Houses of the artists are also there. You will most probably meet them working outdoors.   
The Basbous brothers, Michel, Alfred, and Youssef, who were all highly talented artists, took it upon themselves to spread their sculptures throughout their native village, transforming it into an open air museum. According to Anachar Basbous, son of Alfred, whose name is Rachana spelt backwards, the three brothers introduced a new vision of sculptures consisted of classical portraits. The Basbous family created something abstract and modern, different from what was usually seen
In 1994, the brothers hosted the "International Sculptor Atelier in Rachana, through which a number of sculptors of different nationalities left their works in the village.
A stroll through this village is quite a unique one. More than 40 marble and granite sculptures are exhibited outside the Basbous free form house and workshop, with a section dedicated to the brothers and their progeny, and another of the work of the various guest sculptures in granite, bronze and wood along with a selection of charcoal drawings.

Getting there
From Byblos, north of Beirut, drive past Amchit some 17 km where a north east turn off will lead you directly to Rachana.

Rachaya Al Wadi (Rachaya Distance from Beirut 85 km)
Of old Semitic origins the name Rachaya means "a high place". Wadi was added in reference to Wadi al Taim. Rachaya al Wadi offers more recent historical sites, such as a citadel that was built by the Chehabis in the 18th century. In 1943, the French mandate authorities arrested Lebanon's national leaders, 5the Men of Independence, and interned them in the fortress, which laterbecame known as the "Citadel of Independence". This attractive town has retained its traditional houses and cobbled roads, as well as its traditional skills in crafts, particularly gold and other precious metals. The Ministry of Tourism has recently restored the old historical soulk of Rachaya. The souk is a major attraction for tourists, who can tour the small shops and watch skilled craftsmen at work..

Rayaq (Abondonned railway- distance from Beirut 60 km) (
Contact Charles Helou Bus Station 01 573322 to get permission. At one time the town of Rayak was a hub for transporters, traders and travelers. It housed the Middle East's first raill network that ran across Greater Syria from the port of Beirut until its closure in 1976. The site is not only a station but also a factory comprising approximately 70 buildings including a locomotive garage, ticket office and a hotel. Now, in ruins, the iron is rusted, the roofs are torn apart and it is overgrown with bushes and wild flowers making it difficult to distinguish the pieces. 

Sea Castle (Sidon)
Sitting on a little island 80 meter off the coast of Sidon is the famous sea castle. There was originally a Phoenician temple on this site. Built by the Crusaders in the early 13th century, the sea castle is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Part of the causeway used to be made of wood in order for the Crusaders to remove these pieces in times of attack. Today, the causeway is made of stone and concrete following reconstruction in 1936. The castle was taken by the Mamluks in 1296 and largely destroyed. However, it was later rebuilt by Fakhreddine.
Sidon or Saida is the third largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, 45 km south of Beirut on the Mediterranean cost. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah, its name coincides with the modern Arabic word for fishery. 
Sidon Sea Castle was built by the Crusaders in 1228 on a small island connected to the to the mainland by a causeway. Today the castle consists primarily of two towers connected by a wall, in the outer walls Roman columns were used as horizebtal reinforcements a feature often seen in fortifications built on or near former Roman sites.  The west tower is the better preserved of the two. Old prints of the fortress show it to be one of great beauty. but little remains of the embellishments that once decorated its ramparts. After the fall of Acre to the Mamluks in 1291, all the sea castles were destroyed to prevent the Crusaders from re-establishing footholds

Shlifa (Baalbeck Al Hermel Distance from Beirut 98 km)
The name Shlifa is traced back to the Syriac word meaning "waterfalls" in reference to the famous waterfall in the town. There are both Hellenistic and Roman sites to be visited in Shlifa. Particularly interesting are the Castle of Bint Al Malak (king's daughter) and the historical Church of Saydet Al Bechara (Our Lady of good omens).
Shrine of Our Lady Mantara in  Maghdouche: Saydet Al Mantara 
In the Syriac tongue, the name of this town means "the accumulators and collectors of yields.' At the the town's entrance, on a high hill overlooking the city of Sidon, stands the statue of Lady Mantra. The church of Saint Mantra is no more than a natural grotto carved in the rocks.It is said that Saint Mary was expecting to meet her Savior Son there when he returned from spreading hgis teachings in the area.   
The shrine of Our Lady of Maghdouche is situated on a hill overlooking the sea. According to legend, when Jesus came to Sidon, the Virgin Mary stopped to wait for him on this hill and spent the night inside the cave named Mantara. King Constantin the Great transformed the cave into a shrine for the Virgin Mary. He erected a tower topped with a flame, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 550 A, and later rebuilt by King Louis IX. The cave was accidentally rediscovered by a sheperd in 1726, and since then the site has become a place of pilgrimage for Lebanese Christians. In 1960s, a hexagonal chapel, tower and statue of Mary and Jesus were added to the site. Archeologists who examined the site found the foundation of a Crusader castle and a Phoenician inscription. Festivities take place in the village each year on the 8th of September and 15th of August.
Our Lady of Mantara Church,  Maghdouche

Located 48 km south of Beirut, Sidon is one of the famous names in ancient history. The entrance to Sidon from the north is on a wide divided highway lined with palm trees. As you approach, the landmark, Crusaded Sea Castle and modern port installations are immediately visible. The busy main street is full of small shops of every kind , including patisseries, whose oriental delicacies are stacked in little pyramids. Sidon is famous for a variety of local sweets which you can watch being made in the old souk or in shops on the main street.
A growing city with a modern seaport, Sidon is the south's commercial and financial center.
When you decide to visit Saida's old Medina on the Mediterranean coast, you would rush to see the Crusader Sea Castle, Audi Soap Museum and Debbaneh Palace then head to the Khan el Franj. But as you walk along the old alleys, stop to marvel at people and their metiers. Taste their products. Everymorning as merchants and artisans open their shops, vendors arrive pushing their cars topped with a beautiful display of fresh vegetables and fruits. The main street facing the Sea Castle becomes an open air market. The cafes and fawwals -hummus makers- have started earlier. Coffee pots are already hot; beans and chickpeas are slimmering. Their scent fills the old alleys.
Soon around noon, the aroma of fried falafel makes your mouth water. It emanates from the snack shop at the corner facing the castle.
Like all neighborhoods in Lebanon, people in Saida know each other. When they meet in the alleyways that are more like a labyrinth, the conversatiion goes beyond simple greetings; asking about family, work and even commenting on the latest political issues. They are helpful and friendly when you ask them for directions.
The old city of Saida feels like one big neighborhood. Traditional metiers are perpetuated by the artisans. Some have vanished in many neighborhood around Lebanon but not in Saida. The mattress and duvet makers are located in the vaulted ceiling workshops. Many people still prefer the comfort of wool to sleep. They renew their supply almost every year early fall.
When you go to old Saida's neighborhoods, remember to taste the bread at the bakery, to buy its soap, sweets and you absorb it, it becomes a part of you.
Cherry wood, ebony wood, apricot wood and rose wood were also put to use as well as balms, mastics, canes and ivory which were used by peasants. 

Sidon through ages
Since the 14th century BC, the Lebanese coastal town of Sidon has been a commercial center with strong trade links with Egypt. The city rose in prominence from the 12th to 10th centiries BC, its wealth generated from trading murex that produced an expensive, highly prized purple dye, which waas eventually exploited to the point of extinction.
Sidon was famed for its glass making which was considered the best in the world. The town also became known for shipbuilding and provided experienced sailors for the Persian fleet. The king of Sidon was admiral of the fleet and successful in campaigns against the Egyptians in the 6th century BC, and later against the Greeks giving Sidon a degree of independence from its Persian overlords. This lasted until the middle of the 4th century BC, when a Phoenician rebellion, centered in Sidon, incurred the wrath of the Persians.
During the Byzantine period, the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of AD 551 saw Sidon fare better than most other Phoenician cities. In 667 the Arabs invaded and the city took on the Arabic name Saida, still widely in use today.
Sidon's fortunes rose in the 15th century when it became a trading port of Damascus. In 1791, the Ottoman pasha of Acre. Ahmad al Jazzar, drove the French from the town and Beirut took over as the center of commerce. An earthquake in the 1830 followed by bombarment during the Ottoman-European campaign to remove Bashir Shihab II, helped ensure the city's fall into relative obscurity.

A stroll through historical Sidon
 Sidon offers a multitude of Ottoman buildings, military and religious. The Hammoud palace (Madrassa Aisha) once housed Ottoman soldiers until the French military during its mandate and finally the modern day Internal Security Forces, being completely abondoned.
The St Nicholas Cathedral which stands on the site of an ancient basilica of the eight century was built in 1690 and was the seat of the Orthodox Archibishop of Sidon. It has some interesting features such as a small room where St Paul and St Peter are believed to have met and trapdoor, which according to legend provides access to a tunnel linking the sea castle to the land castle.
Sidon also has a synague, which according to some historians dates back to 833 while others's believe it goes back to the destruction of the Second Temple during the time of Christ,. A photo taken 15 year ago by Sami Karkabi shows Hebrew characters on the the medallions. Today, unfortunately the synagogue is squatted and the characters are daubed with red paint.
Other places of interest include the Al Omari mosque, the Kikhia mosque, the Chapel of the Franciscans (Terra Santa) built in 1856 by Antoine Catafago, the Audi Foundation's Soap Museum, the Debbane Palace and the Sacy residence that stands on the cross foundations. Also, the Serail Square as well as the nearby St Louis Castle and the Fakhreddine Baths sold by an Ottoman dignitary in 1856 to the Jesuits monks who turned it into college.

Little known facts about Sidon
Saint Joseph University's professor Andre Sacy is so enamored with the history of his hometown of Sidon that he has literally scrutinized every corner of its sites and their history. He has come up with the following findings:
- According to ancient texts, Jesus Christ preached not only in Tyre and Sarepta but also in Sidon. The rock on which he stood to address the crowd had been in several texts up to the period of the crusaders.
- Sidon hosted the famous School of Law after the earthquake of 551 struck Beirut.
- The sea castle was built in four stages. It had two towers, two large halls, including that of the Knights Templar, and a monumental chapel built in 1260. A wall protected it from the sea, it had two entrances, one connected to a dock leading to land, and the other giving access to the sea.
- Fakhreddine did not build khan el Franj (the caravanserail of the French). It was built 60 years before his time. In 1540 the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pacha rented it out to French consuls and merchants for the equivalent of 792 dollars. The caravanserail was composed of three properties the Grand Khan, the Little Khan and the French consul's residence. The first two belonged to the Mecca Wakf and the last to the Damascus wakf.

Where to eat
Shawarmas are a fixture in Middle Eastern souks and this is true for Sidon as well. There are numerous shawarma stands scattered around the souk, making them convenient options should those hunger pangs appear. Abou Bahij 961 7 729857

Sidon is famous for its sweets, particularly the sanioura, a crumbly biscuit that is often described as a cross between a shortbread and paviola. Wandering around the souk there are numerous sweet shops with a variety of mouthwatering delicacies. Al Baba 961 7 720678

In need of refreshment after hours of wandering in the maze of alleys of the old city, you'll stumble upon Sidaoui Cafe. This family owned cafe makes a great stop for a thirst-quenching cup of tea.
961 7 750333

Local cafes across the street from the sea castle are another good stop have a bite to eat, play backgammon  and experience a shisha. As in Al Qalaa, Sidon's only boutique hotel. 961 7 734777

For those wanting to taste a falafel, Abou Rami is a must. This small store is always full and the sandwiches are more than filling. (facing the Sea Castle, next to Hassoun Al Saboun, Zawat and Bahri restaurants)

Off  the beaten path
Temple of Echmoun
About 3km north of Sidon on the banks of a river called Nahr el Awali, lie the ruins of the Temple of Echmoun. It was dedicated to the Phoenician god of medicine and healing, the most revered in Sidon at the time and one that was later equated with the Greco Roman god Asclepius.

Magdouche: Our Lady of Mantra Sanctuary
If you are going on a day trip then take the time and go a bit further. Visit this sanctuary that holds a special place in the heart of the locals. It is believed that this sanctuary is where the Virgin Mary waited for Jesus while he went to preach in Tyre and Sidon.

Smar Jbeil castle
On the edge of a cliff overrun with multihued wildflowers and over looking vast emerald valleys that come apart to reveal the azure sea, sits another famous castle in the small village of Smar Jbeil.
The castle was initially built by the Phoenicians, but traded hands over the ages before setting in the possession of the Maronites during the Middle Ages.

Soap Museum: Audi Soap Factory (Sidon)
This fascinating museum traces the history of soap making in the region. Visitors can see a demonstration of how traditional olive oil soaps are made and learn about the history of the "hammam" traditions. The Museum building is an old soap factory dating back to the 17th century, located in the old section of Sidon. During the 19th century, this factory produced soap for the hammams in Sido. It has recently been restored by the Audi family. There is a gift shop attached to the Museum, where you can buy high quality soaps and traditional bath products.
Although Tripoli may take credit for being the center of the traditional soap-making industry, Sidon has Lebanon's first museum, courtesy of the Audi Foundation., dedicated to the the craft. Located in the old city, the 13 century stone building, adapted for use as a soap factory in the 19 century, once produced soap to meet the needs of the hammams (bathhouses). This ancient city, better known as Saida, is approximately 40 km south of Beirut. On approach , the first thing you see is the Sea Castle, a crusader castle built by the Knights of St. John in the 13th century. Cross the road and head towards the old town or medina. Made of arched alleys and walkways, with several levels only accessible by ladders, the medina is an exceptional sight. Shops and workshops are squeezed into tiny niches in the structure, giving the impression of caves. The medina is of course inhabited and the souks are very lively.
Situated on El Shakrieh Street in the middle of the Medina is The Soap Museum. Once a working factory, it has been restored and transformed into a thematic museum. It illustrates the history of soap making in the region, its development and manufacturing techniques. Visitors can see a demonstration of how traditional olive oil soaps are made and learn about the history of the 'hammam" (bath) traditions. 
For centuries, the building was the location of a soap factory, which went under modification a number of times. As you  enter through the glass doors, you are immediately enveloped in the sweet soap aroma. The ingredients include, olive oil, bay leaf, slasola kali (a plant from Syria), laurel oil, and mi'a (a traditional perfume that is distilled from the resin of styrax - a tree that grows in Hermon and Turkey). 
The well laid out gallery and trilingual (Arabic, French and English) descriptions take you through the entire soap making process. Meander through the many levels of the factory and observe the different stages that are involved in soap making.Beautifully lit showcases exhibit the different molds in which the soap is pressed and towers of soap bars, piled high in an elaborate pattern to facilitate ventilation to dry the soap, are everywhere.
Thus, visitors  explore the different steps traditional olive oil soap production; raw materials, fuel and adopted practices for the preparation of the paste, liquefaction  drying cutting into bars and final drying prior 
to packaging and marketing. These installations are  illustrated on panels that include drawings and tools.
Towards the end of the path, visitors can watch a documentary retracing the different steps of  traditional soap manufacturing as well as the shaping of colourful extruded soaps that are typical of Tripoli city.
The museum has a stylish cafe, which also sells books and locally produced treats such as figs in syrup, preserved goat cheese and orange blossom water, and a boutique that sells soap and bath products that make great gifts. The museum is open daily except on Friday from 8;30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Leaving the museum and delving further into the maze you find an Ottoman palace, the Palace Debbane. It's a prime example of Arab-Ottoman architecture and decoration, wedged into the entire structure of the medina, but surprisingly large on the inside. You can climb three stories up to the roof and get an overview of the layout of the old town. The wood carved, furniture and carpets should not be missed.
The historic section of the museum introduces artifacts that were found during onsite excavation and which include remains of clay pipe heads dating from the 17th to 19th century as well as pottery fragments. The Oriental Tobacco Pipe, or Chibouk as known in Turkey comprises three elements. The head is made from clay. The size and form of the head made from evolved in par with tobacco availability. By virtue of the length and used wood of the stick, which varied in length between one and four meters, it was possible to determine the social rank of the person who smoked it. Different kinds of wood were utilized amongst which jasmine was the most expensive since it absorbed all the nicotine.
Cherry wood, ebony wood, apricot wood and rose wood were also put to use as well as balms, mastics, canes and ivory which were used by peasants. The jasmine or cherry wooden sticks were usually decorated with pearls, wrapped with silk and fixed by golden or silver threads. The bottoms of the pipes were typically made from amber. However, women used coral bottoms and rich people used lacquer bottoms and garnished them at times with precious gems. This craft was first exercised in 1559 and lasted until 1929. The oriental pipe was produced in Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Audi Foundation is currently assuming historical studies concerning these pipes.

Taanayel Jesuit Convent in the Bekaa 
This remarkable Jesuit Convent is located in the heart of the Bekaa Valley at few kilometers southeast of Shtaura. It is attractive for many reasons: the magnificient cultivated terrains, the laid out lake and the delicious Gouda cheese. 
After the Jesuits settled in the village of Taanayel in 1863, they had to drain the swampy lands. They planted different species of trees and vegetables. The animals at the farm and the ducks at the lake contribute to the charm of the place.
The convent's land extends over an area of 230 hectares, which can be explored on horseback or by riding a bike. Inspiring sceneries unfold as you enter that haven of peace. To the west the Mount Lebanon range stands out against the blue sky, and shaded alleys look inviting. In places across the land, cascading vines are planted

The name Tannourine is the plural of Tannour, derived from the Syriac language meaning "bread stoves". Other researchers believe that the name Tannourine originally referred to "enlightened". The village of Tannourine  lies in a splendidly beautiful area near the mountain of Tannourine. The village also shares its name with a cedar forest of some 60,000 trees distributed on an approximately 600 hectare piece of land. This forest, which lies at an altitude ranging from 1200 and 1850 meters, has been classified as reserve in February 1999. The Tannourine cedars can be seen along the road that goes north to Hadath el Jibbeh in the direction of Bcharreh, the Qadisha Valley and the Cedars of Aez el Rab The Tannourine area is known for its large sinkhole known as Ballaa. A 300 meter walk brings you to this dizzying open cavern some 255 meter deep. Three natural bridges -the middle one is the most spectacular- complete the scene. If you visit the area in springtime you can see an impressive watefall some 90 meters high. A river disappears into the cave, never to be seen again, hence its name Balaa or drain. Besides the sinkhole, the surrounding hills invite exploration. This is a pleasant place for a picnic as well. In and around Tannourine village are numerous scattered remnants from pre-Roman, Roman, and Byzantine times. The Crusader Church of Mar Chalita is further evidence of the village's long history, and  even today the saint is honord in an annual feast on August 20.

Middle of the village, near Ste Takla church. Visit from to November. Contact National Heritage Association 01 367753 or on site Jean Jabbour 03 283850. Terbol museum is a refurbished rural farmhouse standing in the midst of the village that reflects the traditional way of life. It displays archaic agricultural tools and household utensils alongside temporary photography exhibitions of local and international artists that showcase the variety and wealth of the region's culture. It's primary purpose was the conservation of the traditional construction style but today it attracts visitors who wish to reexperience, for a while, the ancient way of life .

The cave fortress of Niha
Located 65 km away from Beirut, the cave fortress of Niha is called Cave of Tyron in Frankish sources and Chqif Tayroun in Arabic sources. It is carved into the rock of a cliff overlooking the Bisri and the Aray valley. From its strategic location, it monitors the road between Sidon and the Bekaa. It is mentioned for the first time in 975 AD when the Emir of Gharb Tamin was surrounded by the governor of Damascus.  In 1133, it was occupied by a Druze Sheikh or a Nosairis called Dahak Bin Jandal al Tamini. In 1133 the Atabeck od Damascus removes Dahak Bin Jandal from the fortress. It fell into the Crusaders before 1165 date of its fall under Shirkuh.  In 1182, the people of Mosul were commited to deliver it to the crusaders. It passes into the hands of Almalek Saleh Ismail in 1238. It become the property of the Crusaders in 1241. In 1251the Wali of Sidon led an army to the fortress, and he succeded. In 1257 the Lord of Sidon donated it to the Teutonic Order. But they did not keep it for so long. In 1261 the Tartars invaded Damascus and sent Shahab el Din bin Bahtor to attack it, and he ruined it. When Baybars took the city of Damascus in 1270, he ordered to rebuild it and send arms and ammunition to it. In 1585 the Emir Qorqmaz Maan probably took refuge in it shortly before his death. In 1633, his son Enir Fakhreddine persecuted by the Pasha of Damascus found refuge in the cave fortress with his family before his execution in 1635. The fortress is shaped like a cave and is over a hundred meters deep. Chambers and rooms were dug to shelter the soldiers, and as depots and for domestic work. It has water in abundance through a pipe from the Ain el-Halquoum spring. It also had a considerable number of silos for starting provisions. The fortress was well fortified and enclosed in a wall pierced with openings. Several levels of habitations were leaning against the cliff and built using beams which were based on the rock and rested on the cliff wall.  

75 km north of Beirut, is located the 2nd Capital of Lebanon, Tripoli a coastal city where  the Castle of St Gilles stands proudly. The church of St Mary of the Tour has become today the "Great Mosque." It contributed to the introduction of the western influence on oriental architecture.
The city contains many Mamlouk buildings, sucj as the Mosque of Teynal, that of Abdel Wahed and of the Great Mosque of Al Achraf.
Not to to forget the tour (la Tour du Lion) in the areas as Al Mina port, the khans and the Hammams with domes. places of relaxation and pleasure.

Tripoli: Mosque El Kabir, the old souk, the fortress and Palm Islands
Tripoli is the second largest city in Lebanon, lying 88 km north of the capital. It is the administrative centre for the whole of North Lebanon.
In the days of the Phoenicians, one thousand years before Christ, it extends only over the small headland, 4.2 km long by 2.5 km wide, known today as El Mina, or The Port. It is protected by the sea and on the east side by a wall runnibg the length of the neck of land, making the place impregnable. The ancient Greeks called it Tripolis (the Three Cities), because of the walled trading depots belonging to the three associated cities of Tyre, Sidon and Rouad. It was a commercial centre no less important than any of the other Levantine trading posts. Conquered just as they were first by the Assyrians in 980 B.C., then by the Greeks under Alexander in 332 B.C., and after them by the Romans under Pompey in 66 B.C., it was for one thousand years a very animated town, highly urbanised with paved streets bordered by colonnades, its theatre, its schools, its famous library containing 100,000 works, and its temples. Then came the Arab conquest in 705 A.d. and like the other cities of the East Mediterranean coast, for four hundred years it slumbered.
In 1099 the Francs arrived under the leadership of Count Saint-Gilles of Toulouse and the city came to life again for a period of 180 years. Seized yet again, by the Mamlouks (1289 - 1516) and then by the Ottomans (1516 - 1919), its fortifications were demolished and it became no more than a small coastal harbour. The Tower of the Lions, an enormous cube by 21 metres two storeys high with a parapet, is the only defensive work left from the time of the Mamlouks.
However, in the year 1100 Count Saint-Gilles of Toulouse put up a fortress 3 km to the east, on a hill bordering the river Abu Ali. It was around this "Sanjil" castle that a new town grew up, the present day Tripoli, which will be seen to be no more 900 years old. Conquered by the Mamlouks under Sultan Qalaoun in 1289 and then by the Ottomans under Selim 1st in 1516, it presents wide modern streets and by way of contrast busy bazaars, or souqs, with spinning mills, foundriesm soap-works textile factories, pastry shops and jewellers. Old Tripoli preserves its old oriental charm with its narrow streets, souqs and alleys and with its friendly people! Tripoli is particularly well knownfor its Arab pastries. No trip into town would be complete without a visit to one of the welcoming vendors of confectionary. The ruins of Sanjil Castle still rise impressively despite its chekered history of demolition and reconstruction by different conquerors, notable among whom was the Mamlouk Prince Kurdji, who carried out extensive restorations in 1307. On the western side of the hill, the Francs  built a romanesque church named Saint Mary of the Tower, destined to become after some alteration the Great Mosque. Near this stands the Koranic school, the Madrassa Qartauviy. More to the north is the El Saboun  (soap) Market, khan el kayyatin (The Taylors), and a mazeof narrow streets, bazars rich in oriental colour and perfumes of eastern spices. Between the two cities we have described there stretches an immense orange grove, 3 km long, whose praisers have been declaimed in verse.

Palm Tree Island or Rabbit Island
Located about a 30 minute boat ride off the coast of Tripoli, the Palm Islands Reserve is composed of three small islands. Established as a national nature reserve in 1992, the site is recognised as an important Bird Area by Birdlife International. It is also an important egg laying site for endangered sea turtles.
At the fishing harbor, excursion boats are allowed only from June to September, to transport visitors 6 km away to the famous islands. They look as if standing in a row. Three of the islands are nature reserves and an important habitat for marine turtles and migratory sea birds. At Palm Island, Crusaders had built a church where, in 1224, the widow of Hugh I of Cyprus married Bohemund, son of the Prince of Antioch.
Few countries are so favored as Lebanon by their climate. From the seashore up to the snow covered peaks, the Creator made of it a Garden of Eden. Several nature reserves have been set up to protect the richly varied fauna and flora. There are some twenty of them, of which only eight are government controlled by the ministries of Tourism, Environment or the Interior or by the town councils or official associations. The reserve on Palm Tree Island was created by Decree number 121 of 9th March 1992, under the control of a commission attached to the Ministry of the Environment.
It is part of a small archipelago, of which the three main islands are Palm Tree covering five hundred hectares and rising five meters above sea level, and Ramkine and Sanani, both much smaller.
These are the only islands along the Lebanese coast. Here there are a restaurant, chairs, table, sunshades. toilet facilities, an information office, and all that a visitor needs.
The best time to visit is between June and October, or at any time provided that one has the necessary permit.. Visitors may pass their time from morning till evening, without any entrance fee to pay. One is advised to take drinking water and to wear country clothes suitable for walking, protection against the sun in thev form of tinted glasses, cream and a hat, and one may swim if one wants. Running through the isle, a passage has been cleared some 260 meters long, which allows visitor to observe the plants and wildlife.
One should respect the rules and signposts, warning against causing pollution. A tower for bird watching has been put on Ramkine, while fossils may be found in the rocks at Sanini. One may observe migratory birds as well those that make their nests here, such as the gray heron, the rare locally surviving whitetail (Rotatilla alba), the ruff (Philomarcus), the pipistrelle, green turtles, lizards and various kinds of bats, snakes and butterflies. The plants are no less varied and abundant.

Tripoli: Khan el Saboun (Soap Caravanserail)
Tripoli - One of those cities that preserve their ancient medieval character, every nook and cranny, every street, alley and place of worship redolent with nostalgia! The people conserve their traditional society with its morals, usages, customs and relationships. One sees the traditions, feasts, trade, barter and communication rooted in the work done in common. There are bazaars, known here as souk, with places for every craft, the souk of the tailors, of the jewelers, of the copper beaters, of the soap makers and of the carpenters, to mention only a few.
Even where food is concerned, one finds alleys devoted separately to the butchers, the pastry cooks, the fishmongers, the poultry mongers, and the dealers in kitchen utensils. Just as in certain cities one finds districts devoted to schools, libraries, bookshops, and printing presses, so one still finds in Lebanon villages of printers with dozens of large presses always busy and provided with every accessory. There are are villages where workers of one kind dominate, for example cooks and chefs, or stonmasons, or tinsmiths.
But when one visits Tripoli there are hundreds of places where one wants to stop and to stare. There are inns and restaurants, alleys and remains, various localities, the Citadel, Church Street, the mosques and the bazaars of the copper beaters and carpenters, with Souk al Haraj. There is the old rest-place, khan for caravans, the Turkish baths, the cafes and and the sea-front which is the joy of anglers.
Let us stop in the center of Tripoli, not far from the mosque, to the left of the street of the jewelers. There you will find yourself within a large building which in Ottoman times was a military arsenal, but now is known as Khan al Saboun. All around the inner court there are two-story buildings with arcades that were certainly not originally constructed for their present-day use, as places for the manufacture of soap, saboun in Arabic. The work here is strictly a pre-industrial craft. Tripoli is surrounded by olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see, from the district of Koura to that of Akkar, and from these the finest quality of olive oil may be drawn in abundance.
The craftsmen who make the soap have looked for ways of fabricating soap that is colored or perfumed and shaped in many ways, apart from the traditional square blocks one may find soap formed into ovals, spheres, flowers, fruits and even certain kinds of birds and animals while there are also fanciful forms thought up by the makers to satisfy the whisms of their clients. Their is a wide range of traditional soaps, with kinds also that are vegetal, scented with mint, rose, violet, amber or camomile. In addition, there are on sale various bathroom accessories.
By entering this one-time khan, one may see how the soap is made and the bars are shaped and cut. One may also see old photographs showing the man who laid the foundations of this skill and hear explanations about the different techniques of the craft.
There is an idea going around that there should be a soap museum created in Tripoli like the one existing in Sidon. It is fascinating to see how the bars of soap are displayed in circles, with walls rising high, or in different geometrical forms. At present, with all the detergents and industrially produced soaps. the market for soap so good for the skin made with olive oil is declining, so the craftsmen of khan al Saboun are pefecting a soap which is "bio-friendly".
Making a halt at the khan in Tripoli and seeing the inside is most instructive, But it is fair to add that there are many families in Lebanon who still make their own soap at home, just as they bake their own bread, with their own particular recipes governing the exact proportions of oil, water and soda.
The Khan al Saboun (Soap Khan) was built at the beginning of the 17th century by Yusuf al Saifi, pasha of Tripoli. Originally it was intended to serve as a military barrack to garrison Ottoman troops and it was purposely built in the center of the city to enable, the pasha to control any uprising.
During the battle of Anjar, Usuf Pasha was taken prisoner. When Tripoli fell to Fakhreddine, the Ottoman garrison fled to join its routed forces in Syria.
To the inhabitants of Tripoli this seemed to be a great waste so a petition was sent to Deir el Qamar, the residence of Fakhreddine, with the request to turn the building into a soap factory and warehouse. From that day until the present time the Ottoman barracks have served as Tripoli's flourishing Soap Khan or Khan el Saboon.

Architectural excursion
Tripoli Internationl Fair

With construction of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer's International Fair of Tripoli halting with the advent of the Lebanese civil war, what remains are the haunting modern ruins of an architectural marvel. The 10,000 hectare expanse on the southern edge of the city is one of the country's finest examples of architectural modernism and begs for exploration. For in depth architectural information on the country's modern heritage buildings contact 

10 things to do in Tripoli
1- Stay overnight
Hotel Koura
This family run established is one of the best budget hotels in the area. The rooms are comfortable and the lounge serves as a dining area. Breakfast is included in the price and the owner, Pierre Jabour can organize day trips upon request. 961 6 425451

Chateau des Oliviers (Villa Nadia)
This hotel is set in a mansion on a hill just south of the city. It boasts the unique taste of Nadia Dibo, its owner, consisting of 15 rooms, 4 suites and one royal suite. Those with balconies have extraordinary views overlooking Tripoi, the mountains and the sea. 961 6 411170

2- The old souks and khans
Khan Al Saboun (Soap Market)
Traditionally made with olive oil, honey and other natural ingredients. the soaps supplied to the hammams in Tripoli make them an essential part of the city's economy. Make sure to visit Sharkasi Soap Factory above the Souk and Badr Hassoun's shop to discover the soap production process and sample over 400 kinds of soaps on offer. Do not miss the huge soap carved into the shape of an open volume of the Quran. The Khan Al Saboun was originally a military barrack during the Ottoman period and was eventually transformed into a market for olive oli based products in the 18th century. 961 6 874483

Khan Al Khayatine (Tailor's Market) 
The Khan Al Khayatine souk in Tripoli was built in the first half of the 14th century and renovated in 1974. It is the oldest souk of the city and has narrow winding alleys featuring tailor shops where you will find beautiful traditional clothing. Beautiful colors, unique textures and special design are in display. The costumes for Lebanon's most renowned dance troupes are made here.

The Pottery Workshop
In Al Mina, Abu George the potter still turns his hand-made pottery on a traditional wheel. You wonder how much longer such skilled artisans will ply their trade as you watch the balanced symmetry of an elongated pot emerges from a rough lump of clay. None of his children are interested in learning the trade and the fears he will be one of the last to handcraft these increasingly rare artifacs. 961 6 600290

Sharkass Tradition Handmade Olive Oil Soap Shop
Soap maker Mahmoud Sharkass  is an institution. Despite the initial appearance of his grimy, humble shop, the walls display photographs of meeting with a number of ambassadors. Sharkass family has been making soap from pure olive oil once since 1803 and Mahmoud still ises traditional German machinery some as old as 150 years.
Sharkass claims he is the only soap maker in the world using 100 percent olive oil. Despite neighbouring shops who have decided to open competing soap business, Sharkass business seems set to last.

Al Azm Cultural Center
This center is a haven for all artists. Established in 1994, it is the dirst and most active cultural center in Tripoli, where creative  people meet to share and discuss their work. The center organizes concerts, seminars and workshops to enhance the cultural life of the city. Make sure to check it out to uncover the local artist scene. 961 6 444448

3- Architecture
The Taynal Mosque
The green domed mosque, built ca. 1336 by Governor Saif el Din Taynal has a spectacular feature: the towering portal tallest in the city built inside the large vaulted vestibule that precedes the main prayer room. A relatively small door, within this huge portal, opens onto a large main prayer hall also arched and vaulted with an elegantly carved wooden minibar (pulpit) dating from 1336. The Taynal Mosque lies southy of the Old City. Built on the site of a ruined Crusader Carmelite church, some of its material was incorporated into the mosque, notably two rows of Egyptian granite Roman columns capped with Corinthian capitals.

Al Madrassa Qartawiyya
Built by a Mamluk governor of the same name in the early 13th century over the baptistery of an old cathedral, the Madrassa is well known for its fine wormanship evident in the  elegant black and white facade topped by a honey combed patterned half dome above the portal. Its black wall, also black and white, is adorned with beautiful Arabic calligraphy. The Madrassa is also known for having the only dome in Tripoli, which tops the prayer room. 

Burj Es Sabaa (Lion Tower)
This miniature fortress at the far eastern end of the Tripoli harbor (called Al Mina) is named after the lions decorations that decorated it once upon a time. It is an exceptional example of Mamluk military architecture with a striking black and white portico and older Roman columns used to reinforce the walls horizontally. If you do get there before 4 pm, ask the guardian of the place to take you to the top of the tower where you can catch a wonderful view of the abondant Tripoli train station.

4- Shopping
Souk Harraj
This is the only covered souk in Tripoli. Garanite columns thought to be of Roman or Crusader origin support  the high vaulted ceilling of this 14th century edifice. Harraj is the Arabic word for negotiate and at this souk you are encouraged to negotiate the price for items on offer such as mattresses, pillows and other bedding materials.

Saeh Library
One of the best kept secrets of Tripoli, the Saeh library is a treasure island for book lovers. Dive into the shelves and dusty boxes to find infinite treasures of early edition books by Balzac and Hemmingway as well as many out of print magazines.

5- Religion
The Great Mosque
The construction of the Great Mosque began in 1294, on the site of the destroyed St Mary of the Tower church. It was completed in 1315, and probable traces of the 700-year structure can still be seen in its distinctive square minaret thought to have been the church's belt tower. To enter, women are expected to wear one of the gowns provided and cover their heads. To the left the late 13th century Shamsiyah Madrassa, among the oldest in Tripoli, has above it the home of its founder, judge Shamseddin al Iskandari. A typical wooden manzala (closed balcony) decorates its facade. The minaret of the Great Mosque is in fact the square Lombard bell tower of St Mary's church that once stood on the site. 

Al Muallaq Mosque
There is a small simple yet unique mosque due to its unusual position over a vaulted passage. Located upstairs on the second floor of the building, it was built in the 16th century. It has a plan interior and leads down to a delightful courtyard garden.

Church Street
There are few churches remaining in Tripoli, as most were destroyed in 1279 when the Mamluk Sultan conquered the Crusader city. A few remain in the Church Street, hence the name. As you walk around, you will find Saint Nicolas that was originally a soap factory. The oldest Maronite church in Tripoli, St Michael which was built in 1889, is located a little further. However, the oldest church of Tripoli is Saydet al Hara in Tabbaneh, which dates back to the 13th century. It was recently restored after the damages it sustained during the Lebanese civil war.

The Cathedral of St George (Al Mina)
Built in 1735 during the Ottoman period this large and impressive building is patterned on a Crusader style basilical church. Below the church is a very old grotto, whose exact purpose and its origins are not known.

6- Nature
Palm Island Reserve 
The Palm Island Reserve consists of three islands and covers a rough area of 5km2 of land and sea. Declared a protected site by UNESCO in 1992 and dedicated as a nature in 1993, the island is populated with endangered species of rabbits, monks seal and turtles. It is also a stop for over 300 species of migratory birds. The largest island, Nakheel, features around 2,500 palm trees with paths laid out for visitors. After your stroll, you can take a swim or enjoy a picnic. The islands are open to the public from July to
September. Negotiate your boat trip at the Mina, pack some food and float away to the preserved nature

Al Mina
The history of the Al Mina port goes back way before the medieval times; however, few traces of this history remains. The port is today a promenade for natives and tourists alike, to rest after a long day of walking around the old city and enjoy local dishes and desserts.

7- Modern Structures
Tripoli International Fair
Tripoli is full of history but also has a special place for modern architecture. Commissioned in 1963, and designed by world famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Tripoli International Fair, also known as the Rachid Karame Fair, was abondoned mid construction at the outbreak of the civil war. Today the fair ground hosts many big events.

8- Hammam
The hammams were not just bathhouses but social clubs, where citizens would meet, gossip, bathe and smoke nargileh. The outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War changed this though, leaving the hammams barren eccept for spider webs and accumilation of dirt. 

Hammam al Nouri
On a bustling city road in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque sits an elderly lemonade vendor with a long white beard. Behind him is an old, dusty store where other old men sit chewing seeds and sipping Turkish coffee.
In the store though, is an old wooden unassuming door. Like a fairytale, the door reveals a dark labyrinth, lit only by sparse rays of sunlight that lead to a hammam built in 1333. Hammam al Nouri is now abondonned collecting cobwebs in its various bathing rooms and high domed ceilings, needing an influx of around a million dollars to renovate according to one expert on the city.

Hammam el Abd
Built in the 17th century Hammam  el Abd is today's only operational bathhouse in Tripoli. Open from 8 am to 10 pm, it is unfortunately only for men, unless you reserve ahead of time for a group of women. The hammam was built in the 17th century and has the typical pierced domes of the Mamluk, an Ottoman era public bath. The interior with its cushions and central fountain is a vision by itself.

Hammam al Jadid
Hamman al Jadid derives its name (New Hammam) from being built around 1740. Like Hammam al Nouri, this hammam is abondoned, however its recent purchase by Prime Minister Najib Mikati signals a future rebirth. The highlight of this hammam is the designs in the ceiling.
By far the largest hammam of the city, Hammam Al Jadid was built in 1740 and has not been operational since the early 1970s However, it is the city's best preserved establishment. A gift to the city by Asaad Pasha al Azem, governor of Damascus, no expense was spared in its construction. A huge glass pierced dominates the main chamber and brings a dim light to a pool and fountain below. 961 3 648930

9- History
Ottoman clock tower
Walking through Al Tell Square to view the renovated Ottoman Clock Tower, gifted to the people of Tripoli nin 1901/2 by7 Sultan Abdel Hamid to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his Sultanate, we stop to admire some of the beautiful restored Ottoman buildings that surrounded the square.

Citadel St Gilles 
Lebanon, Tripoli, the Citadel Photographic Print
The Citadel St Gilles dominated the city of Tripoli and is one of its grates landmarks. In 1102 AD, Raymond de St Gilles occupied the hill and decided to built a fortress on the beautiful location. The original castle was burnt down in 1289. Emir Essendir Kurgi rebuilt it with some additions in the 19th century. Today, the foundations are the only original remains. Explore alone or hire a guide, it is well worth a visit. 

Madrassa Al Tawahiat
This law school with its attached mausoleum dates back to 1471. Located on the main street of the gold souk, it is built of sandstone in alternating black and white patterns and has an unusual, finely decorated portal towers above the building's ornate facade.

Butrusia Mosque and Madrassa
Built by the Kurdish prince, Sharafeddin Issa ben Omar al Butrasi, the construction is distinguished by the mosaic in its half dome, its square minaret, its black and white stonework and the intricately decorated and inland mihrab.

10- Food
For a unique vegetarian moghrabieh sandwich 961 6 447668

Ich Ich
For ice cream made the traditional way in many flavors (near Al Mina).

For a delicious foul fatteh and hommos 961 6 433387

Silver Shore
For an unforgettable samke harra 961 6 601384

Architectural excursion
With construction of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer's international fair of Tripoli halting with the advent of the Lebanese civil war, what remains are are the haunting modern ruins of an architectural marvel. the 10,000-hectare expanse on the Southern edge of the city is one of the country's finest examples of architectural modernism and begs for exploration. For in depth architectural information on the international Fair of Tripoli and the country's modern Heritage buildings contact

Stay overnight in the enchanting chateau des Oliviers (06 411170), which looks out over Tripoli and its coastline.

Traditional Arabic sweets at Abdel Rahman Hallab & Sons 1881 (06 444555)

Visit Bassam Shaykh El Najareen for wooden craft (06 436720) and atelier A la Mer (03 086573) for  ship models

Located on the Lebanese coast, 83 km south of the Capital, the city of Tyre was founded by the Phoenicians and became the first commercial Metropolis of the world. It was in Tyre that their economical empire really expanded.
The sarcophagus of the king of Tyre Hiram was found in Tyre. It was he who supplied king Salmon with excellent wood from the Cedar forests for the construction of his temple and palace. The visitor can also discover the paved path that crosses a majestic Arch of Triumph, a Roman aqueduct , one of the first hippodromes, a field of Roman sarcophagus, mosaic parterres and many other ruins that escaped the Assyrians, the Persians and the Arab destruction. The archeological sites are open daily. Several seafood restaurants and pubs are located in the port area and fast food places have opened in the Hay el Raml area.
Tyre is an ancient Phoenician city in southern Lebanon, just out into the Mediterranean sea. It is the fourth largest city of Lebanon and it's also known by the modern name: Sour.
The legendary birthplace of Europa and Elissa, it amassed great wealth and power from the export of purple dye. In the first century AD Tyre was the home of a Christian community visited by St Paul, In the 12th century it became a major stronghold of the Crusaderas. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1984.
Tyre appears on monument as early as 1500 BC, and claiming according to Herodotus to have been founded about 2700 BC. The inhabitants of Tyre were leading merchants in the ancient world. The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare short of purple dye known as Tyrian purple, which was in many ancient cultures reserved for royal use.
Tyre is the fourth largest city of Lebanon and it's also known by the modern name, Sour.
The legendary birthplace of Europa and Elissa it amassed great wealth and power from the export of purple dye. In the first century AD, Tyre was the home of a Christian community visited by St. Paul. In the 12th century it became a major stronghold of the Crusaders. It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1984.
Tyre appears on monuments as early as 1500 BC, and claiming according to Herodotus, to have been founded about 2700 BC. The inhabitants of Tyre were leading merchants in the ancient world. The city of Tyre was particularly known for the production of a rare sort of purple dye, known as Tyrian purple, which was in many ancient cultures reserved for royal use.

Tyre Coastal Nature Reserve
Established in 1998, the 380-hectare Tyre Coastal Nature Reserve encompasses a variety of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and one of the most beautiful and scenic sandy beaches in Lebanon. The pools of Ras el Ain, used since Phoenician time, create small areas of marshland that serve as a freshwater habitat. A great variety of birds can be found in the reserve and its sandy beaches are an important nesting site for endangered sea turtles. Hiking along the seashore is possible.  

Fun with family and friends
Snorkel and discover underwater ruins
Enjoy the turtles laying their eggs at the Orange House, a national geographic moment!
Check out the boat builder at the old fishing harbor
Visit the Roman Hippodrome, one of the largest in the world, and picture yourself as Ben Hur
Take a dip in the big blue sea and bask in the sun at the Tyr Beach Nature Reserve
Drive to Qana and see  where Christ, performed his first miracle
Eat fish at Le Phenicien 961 7740554, southern specialities or hummus, foul and fatte at Baroud 961 3 949652
Stay at the Resthouse 961 7 740667, Yara Palace 961 7 346622, Auberge Al Fanar 961 741111 or  Al Yasmine Guesthouse 961 3 372888

The name Zahle is Syriac and means " shifting or moving" in reference to the erodible quality of the soil in this part of the valley of Zahle. Zahle is notable for its traditional red roofed houses, arcades and decorated facades typical of 19th century architecture. The town is also the home of 38 churches and 7 mosques. It is renowned as the "City of Wine and Poetry" and with good reason for it is rich in both: vineyards that grow abundantly and feed the famed Zahle araq, wine industries and poets who enjoy international repute. Zahle is also famous for serving a relishing array of mezze that have earned the appalation mezzeh Zahlawieh (Zahle mezze).
The area of Zahle has a long history of wine making that can be traced back to early antiquity.The industry was revived with the arrival of the Jesuits in the year 1864, who settled in Ksara on the southern part of town and re-opened the extensive underground caves built around a natural grotto by the Romans. Each year, in the month of September, Zahle celebrates the Festival of Vine. The week long Festival encompasses many cultural and musical events. The festivities are crowned with the election of "Miss Vine' in a carnival like atmosphere, and cars are decorated with flowers representing national symbols. 
Noah's karak is found one kilometer away from the center of Zahle in the village mosque. It is 42 meters long and and 2.5 meters wide. The mosque itself was built with reused Roman stones and is decorated with ancient Arabic inscriptions.
 The city center spreads along both banks of the Bardouni River, with the older section of the town on the upper elevations of the west bank and the shopping district on the east bank.
A red-roofed town set among the eastern foothills of Mount Sannine, Zahle enjoys a prime location in the Beqaa valley. Snowcapped mountains tower above it in winter, while in summer its 945-meter elevation keeps the air light and dry.
At the northern end of the town is the Bardouni river valley known as Wadi el Arayesh (Grape wine valley)
the site of Zahle's famous outdoor restaurants.
Zahle styles itself "The City of Wine and Poetry", and with good reason. Over the past century alone some fifty poets and writers have been born here and almost as many excellent wines and araks have been produced in the area.
The romance of wine and poetry is balanced by Zahleh's more businesslike position as the administrative and commercial capital of the Beqaa valley (42.27% of Lebanon's territory) as well as its ranks as the country's third largest city.
Zahle is also an agricultural town in an area which produces vegetables, fruit, grain and most importantly grapes.
It is by wondering around in Zahle you will discover its charms. The Geha House is a restored, typical 17th century house. Although a private home today, you can still appreciate its courtyard, garden and galleries. The house has a 1400 m long underground tunnel that leads to St Elias church and monastery. The monastery was built in 1755 while the church, also known as Al Moukhallassiah, was built in 1720 and was the second church built in Zahle, the oldest being Saydet Zalzaly built in 1700 and standing at the heart of the city.
In the oldest part of the city, you can walk down the Souk al Blatt (tiled market) where ancient travelers to and from Syria, Baghdad and Palestine used to trade their goods. Going east, you will find Hosh el Zarani, a market place that used to bring together craftsmen, shops and caravanserail. It was an important commercial center where trades were made and products were sold. Close to it is the monastery of Our Lady of Najat, built in 1720, it possesses the largest bell tower, so far in Lebanon. It is renowned for its magnificient icon of the Virgin Mary, a present from the King of Prussia and the viewing plarform overlooking the city and crowned with a ten-meter high bronze statue of the Virgin.

Zouk Mikael
Pershed on a hill of the littoral of Keserwan, between Beirut and Byblos, overlooking the sea, Zouk Mikael is a small Lebanese city located on the Lebanese coast, 14 km far away from Beirut. Zouk Mikael would have been founded at the beginning of the XIV century. It acquired notoriety for its production of high quality silk. The Souk of the city was considered one of the most important markets of the area, and Zouk Mikael was famous for the weaving of silk; the economic growth of the city was at its apogee.
Historians recall the creation of Zouk Mikael at the beginning of the 14thy century. Traditional houses from stone and red bricks that have preserved their ancientness surround until today the old souk and the old roman amphitheater. Churches and historical monasteries were built since 1709 and scatter out of the seven hills of Zouk Mikael, overhanging by their location the Mediterranean.

Wine in Lebanon has a history that reaches back thousands of years. Over 4000 years ago, the Phoenicians sold Lebanese wine through out the Mediterranean region, and they were credited with having introduced the flavorful nectar into the Spanish and Italian markets. Barrels of wine were shipped out from the thriving ports of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos to many destinations including Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs.
The superior quality of Lebanese wines - then and now - is due to the fertile soil of the Bekaa Valley. The valley's exceptional climate and the richness of its earth provide an ideal breeding ground for various types of grapes.
The grapes grown during the Phoenician era - such as Marami and Baytamouni - no longer exist. They have been replaced by French varieties such as Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are universal and used around the world for grape cultivation.
In the last 10 years, the amount of wine produced in Lebanon has more than doubled, and Lebanese wine is becoming famous far beyond the Mediterranean basin. The oldest winery in Lebanon that's still in opearation today is Chateau Ksara.
Chateau Ksara estate lies in the heart of the Bekaa Valley, close to ancient Baalbeck and lively Zahle. The name comes from ksar (or fortress) because the current winery was the site of a fortress during the crusader era. The property was aquired by Jesuit fathers in 1857, when it already was a famous vineyards, and the Jesuits kept up the noble winemaking tradition. The Jesuits introduced new varieties of high quality vines into Lebanon that thrived thanks the Bekaa's ideal climate.
The natural caves that lie directly under Chateau Ksara estate serve as the place's wine cellare. The temperature inside the caves - between 11 and 13 degrees centigrades- is ideal for storing wine. The caves were originally discovered by the Romans, who dug several tunnels outward from the caves. These tunnels were later enlargede during World War I, when the Jesuit fathers employed 100 men to dig out the caves and complete an underground network of almost 2 kilometers.The Jesuit fathers sold Chateau Ksara to its present owners in conformity with the directives of the Vatican II synod.

Le Souverain
Grapes varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Arinamos. A dense deep purple red robe with a remarkable bouquet of dark wild berries, and an under living of licorice, fenugreek and carob. Should be opened and left to an hour before using.

Cuvee du Troisieme Millenaire
Grapes variatals: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Syrah. Full bodied and long keeping red wine issued out of selected grapes from the best vineyards. Dense and deep purple red robe. It has a fruity and subtle nose of raspberry and black current with a vanilla character. Numerous layers of aroma and flavour create greate complexity.

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. In doing so they laid the foundations of Lebanon's modern wine industry.
In is worth remembering however that Lebanon's oldest winery is merely continuing a 5,000 year old trading tradition. Lebanon sits on the of ancient Phoenicia one of the world's oldest merchant civilizations and one of the first to sell wines to another nations.
In 1972, the Vatican encourages its monasteries and missions around the world tp sell off any commercial activities. By then, Ksara was a profitable entity producing over 1 million bottles annually and representing 85% of Lebanese production.
The Jesuits accidentally discovery of a grotto, stretching over 2 kilometers, gave the religious men a perfect storing area, which was not too humid and at ideal temperature. It is dug in a limestone rock and it is belived that the grotto dates back to the roman period but its use by the ancient civilisation is still unknown.
The cave comprising six tunnels which cover 2 km under ksara, were discovered in 1898 and represent perfect conditions for storing wines, as temperatures remains between 13 and 15 degree celsius all year round.
40,000 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 900,000 bottles ranging from last year' vintage to a few final examples of the 1918 vintage.
Chateau Ksara was the first Lebanese winery to introduce modern grape varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, - into Lebanon in the early 90s, eshewing the sector's traditional reliance on less fashionble grapes such as Cinsault and Carignan. Today, its vineyards are home to some 20 varieties of grapes for the production of red wine, white rose wines, vin doux and arak.
At the top are the premium reds: Chateau Ksara, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, the single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cuvee de Troisieme Millenaire, Cinsault, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon and Annamoa aged in oak for two years to celebrate the occasion.
Today, Chateau Ksara's reputation as Lebanon's biggest and oldest winery is secure. To produce its 2 million bottles, the winery harvests 2,000 tons of grapes from its 300 hectares at an average yield of 7 tons of grapes per hectare. This is nearly half the yield of some new world producers who foregoing quality happily harvest as much as 14 tons per hectare. For Chateau Ksara quality is paramount.
The name of Chateau Ksara dates back to 1857 and has become associated with the three core value: tradition, nobility, and modernity. These are emphasised through name and lineage (tradition), through a highy quality product (nobility), and the tremendous innovative advances made since 1991 (modernity).

History and foundation of Kefraya 
Chateau Kefraya lies in the heart of the Bekaa Valley, lining the steep terraces of Mount Barouk. The Bekaa Valley's impeccable climate includes 300 days of sunshine and some 1200 mm of average annual rainfall. Along with the Valley's soil and slope of terrain, the area's components make it ideal for grape cultivatio. Surrounded by over three hundred hectares of vineyards, chateau Kefraya's stately home is nestled between the beautiful and luscious cypress and cedar tree on a site that ranges from 900 to 1100 meters on clay chalk soil.
The chateau's first vineyards were planted as far back as the 1950's and more than a quarter of a century, the vineyards have been yielding flawless wines, making their first appearance in the Lebanese market in 1979.
Since then, Chateau Kefraya has established itself as a key winemaker in Lebanon and abroad, becoming available nationwide in Lebanon and exported to 35 countries worldwide Although 70% of Chateau Kefraya's wine  are red, the estate has been producing white, rose, sweete wines and Arak for many years now.
The red wines, created from five varieties of grapes, provide a unique taste and a coplex aromatic bouquet that is ever changing with the aging of the respective labels and vintages.
Since its establishment as a premier wine producer in Lebanon, Chateau Kefraya has gained international praise from Europe, North America and Asia. To create the most perfect blend of flavors and lasts, Chateau Kefraya founder, President and Chairman, Mr. Michel de Bustros, has brought to Kefraya the classical and noble French vines Cabernet-Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah.
Le Relais Dionysos:
Within the chateau grounds, Le Relais Dionysos restaurant was opened in 1999 in order to create a perfect and serene atmosphere in which to save the excellence of Chateau Kefraya wine. Less than one hour from Beirut, Le Relais Dionysos offers a large variety of exquisite cuisine, with the addition of wine recommendations for every single item on the menu at very preferential rates. With a vista of the surrounding parks, the restaurant also has an exceptional showroom, where customers can visit and view the various wines on display.
Creating the perfect ending to a tour of the chateau's formidable grounds, cellars and parks, Le Relais Dionysos is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner to serve you an array of Lebanese and international culinary delights from appetizers to desserts.

Cave Kouroum Winery 
Cave Kouroum Winery is earnestly dedicated to confirming excellence and sustaining commitment in the direction of quality to make superb wine and provide a special place for passionate wine drinkers to build their wine knowledge and appreciation. The phiolosophy is simple: rippen-grapes , gentle handling, and attention to details, timely intervention and thoughtful blending. Like a modern day cathedral in the heart of Kefraya Village and nestled at the western slope of Barouk Mountain, Cave Kouroum overlooking  the valley with its majestic modern architecture. Considering all tastes and preferences, Cave Kouroum produces a variety of red, white and rose wines to suit all its clients.


Church of Our Lady at Gebrayel
After having traversed the cosmos from one end to the other and carrying out his divine mission, the Annunciation made to Mary, the immaculate Cobception, of the Blessed Fruit of her womb...
After having come  in contact with mankind and seeing that human beings created in the image of God are kind, hospitable, friendly and sociable....
After having admired the work of the Creator in this universe, the nebulae, galaxies, stars and planets and above all the beauty of his earth of ours, and not wishing to leave us but rather to find rest, the Archanagel Gabriel chose a domain not far from Nazareth, one that drew him by its splendid beauty, a corner of Noth Lebanon, near the Cedars, a deligtful village of breath-taking charm, situated on the mountain slopes at a height of five hundred meters above the sea, blending into the paradise around. He gave it his name " Gebrayel" Gabriel.
Here was an open space of unrivalled verdure, with forests of pine trees, a village bathed in the sun, sparkling in an air pure and without pollution, with kindly people but awesome calm, the only voice being that of silence.
Water gushes on all sides but to find one of its sources one must follow a long, winding, narrow and shaded route, a road of dreams of Paradise. Well may one wonder if one is in this world or in some planet with the Little Prince of Saint Exupery. It is like the Retiro, the Park in Madrid, a memory of Neufchatel, a play of chiaroscuro, a tunnel of verdure of altering light and shadow. opening out on a sided where the water leaps from its spring, "el-Halzoum",  the two horned snail.
Gebrayel is ten kilometers from Halba, the first township of the region. This village of the angel has some three thousand inhabitants, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. One may notice several churches, among them ones dedicated to Our Lady and to Saint Elias the Prophet. The schools are quite modern but we may well pause at the Church of Our Lady, the arched construction of which dates back twelve centuries or more. It is a veritable fortress with walls two meters thick, leaving narrow windows which give little to the interior. There is a fine icon holy virgins and the martyrs. A baptism font of one solid block stands at the left of the entrance, a tall column of stone with a bowl in the top.
It is pleasant to think this Christian center has come down through the ages and remained so welcoming and full of activity. So many conquerors and empires have passed here. An imposing citadel was raised and many times taken the castle of Akar today only a heap of ruins, while at its feet the village still lives on in its verdant groves, with the music of running water on all sides.
A century old cypress tree stands guard on the left of the entrance. The old door still remains but because of the recent restoration of the front wall another door, this time of aluminium, has been added to provide protection.
A bell tower rises over the terrace, surrounded by a cross, and from here one enjoys a superb panoranic view of the green surroundings of the red-roofed dwellings, the whole giving a delightful effect. Visiting Gebrayel is like visiting Paradise itself.

Discovering new sites
Lebanon's geographic position places it at a strategic stopping point for birds along the African-Eurasian migration paths, which creates huge bird watching opportunities, especially during the spring and fall seasons. Prime time bird watching seasons are mid-September through mid-October and early March to mid-April.
Over 300 species of birds can be seen in the Lebanese skies and that isa mainly due to the Land of Cedars diversified landscape, which even attracts birds that are threatened with extinction such as Imperial Eagle and the Sociable Lapwing. Here it is worth noting that there are many opportunities to see certain species that are rather more common such as raptors, harriers, water birds and others l8ike The Syrian Serin and the Palestinian Sunbird.
Bird watchers have three main areas to visit such as the coastal reserves, which include the Palm Islands Nature Reserve and the Tyre Costal Nature Reserve that both house various sea and water birds. The mountains also comprise sites such as the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve and the Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve . The latter are known for house eagles, vultures and quails. Going further inland to the marshes and plains of the Bekaa Valley we have the Aammiq wetlands, which also offer a variety of bird watching opportunities.
After allocating generous funding the MAVA Trust , A Rocha Lebanon and The Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL - Birlife's national partner) carried out a three year science and community conservation project aimed at identifying and conserving new Important Bird Areas (IBA) throughout the country
In 1994, prior to the project the SPNL, and Birdlife International had designated the following four sites as internationally recognized IBAs: the Ehden Forest Reserve, Palm Island, the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve and the Aammiq Wetlands. However, due to Lebanon's importance for the migrating birds and species and a restricted regional or global range coupled with intense, largely indiscriminare hunting in the country it was essential to identify the areas that are important for roosting (for soaring birds that fly low and are vulnerable), over wintering (for raptors and and water birds) and breeding (for both wintering birds and species with limited regional or global distribution e.g.Syrian Serin).
During the period extending from March 2005 until February 2008, 31 sites were surveyed all over the country lasting a complete yearly cycle, with recurring visits during the main migration period. Teams of researchers conducted a total of 320 site visits totaling more than 3,000 hours of observations generating thousands of individual records that represent tens of thousands of birds. All the data collected was matched to Bird Life IBA criteria.

9 new sites have been deisgnated as Global IBA after having received approval from Birdlife Internatinal
- The Hima Anjar - Kfar Zabad regularly welcomes significant numbers of international threatened species or other species that are of global conservation consern.
- The Reem - Sannin Mountains is known to have a noteworthy assembly of species whose breeding distributions are largely or wholly confined to one biome and a meeting point site where at least 20,000 storks (Ciconidae), Raptors (Accipitrformes and Falconiformes) or cranes (Gruidae) often pass by during spring or autumn migration.
- The Tannourine Cedars Nature Reserve habitually holds significant numbers of a globally endangered species, or other species of global conservation conce4rn. It is known to be a bottleneck site, where at l3east 20,000 storks, raptors or cranes regularly pass during spring or autumn migration.
- The Hima Ebel es Saqi often holds significant numbers of internationally threatened species or other species of global conservation concern, and it is also identified as a bottleneck site, where at least 20,000 storks, raptors or cranes regularly pass during migration periods.
- The Semi deserts of Ras Baalbeck are notorious for their significant assemblage of species whose breeding distributions are mostly confined to biome.
- The Qaraon Lake, Beirut River Valley and Jabal Moussa Mountain welcome at least 20,000 storks, raptors or craners, which regularly pass by dyring migratory periods.
- The Upper mountains of Akkar - Donnieh holds significant numbers of globally threatened species of renowned concern for conservationists. It holds a significant component of the restricted range of species whose breeding distributions define an Endemic Bird Area or Secondary Area to hold a significant assemblage of the species whose breeding distributions  are largely or wholly confined to one biome.

2 new sites have been designated as Regional IBAs
- The Bentael Forest Nature Reserve and the Ramlieh Valley where more than 5,000 storks and 3,000 raptors or cranes pass by during migration periods.

Only two of the eleven latter declared sites are government declared nature reserves while only two are conserved by the SPNL with the cooperation of local communities through the Hima approach. Meanwhile three of them have active NGO conservation and four presently have no protection at all.

Museums with a difference
Museums provide a unique interactive experience of getting up close to thingd we usually only see in books, newspaper or on the television. In terms of education, going to a museum can bring what is taught in schools to life. Research shows that those who have had firshand experience are more likely to retain it in later life. Museums can then be an extremely valuable source of creativity, particularly art galleries or photography exibitions, as many people find they are inspired and subsequently want to try such activities themselves.
Museums are also a significant factor in attracting tourists to an area and can therefore be instruments in helping the local economy in terms of supplying a passing trade as well as offering local people employment.

The Butterfly Museum 
(Scientific Museum for Birds, Butterflies & Animals - Mar Doumit Carmelite Monastery -Tel: 961 6 350004 -
Eco-tourism has become more and more popular in Lebanon, as this country is very much blessed with breathtaking nature reserves such as the one in Kobayat, in the North of Lebanon (Akkar). Kobayat is also well known for the Scientific Museum for birds, butterflies and animals.
This museum was once a school run by Carmelite priests founded in 1908. Today the building has been transformed into a museum housing species of birds and animals found in Lebanon and up to 4000 species of butterflies from all over the world. And more than 400 birds and animals from Lebanon.
As most of Lebanon's wild life has become extinct, this museum's existence is crucial as a reminder to the Lebanese of what once roamed their lands as well as an interesting study or the general public on the indigenous species of the region. As the museum is approximately a 2 hour car ride from Beirut it is advised to visit the nature reserve of Kobayat and make a whole day out of it.

The Silk  Museum 961 5 940767
When you think about Lebanon and cultural tourism, you can't but think of ancient ruins and arche9ological art. However, we tend to forget that Lebanon was once one of the more important silok producers in the world. The silk tradition in Lebanon is more than two thousand years old. The advent of synthetic fabrics in the 20th century marked the end of silk production and by 1983 all silk productions were suspended. In order to preservew the memory of traditional silk making the Bsous Silk Museum that originally operated as a silk factory betweet 1901 and 1954 wasw inaugurated in 2001.
Georges and Alexandra Asseily restored it lovingly and now the museum offers a step by6 step guide to silk producing and beautiful examples of finished piecers as well as an extensive historiography of how silk production affected Lebanon on a social and economical level. Occasionally, if you are lucky, the museum houses temporary exibitions.
Keep in mind that the approximate time to tour the museum is 1 h 30 to 2 hours. A visit to the boutique is well worth it as you may find interesting artisanal and local produce, and later enjoy a drink and a bite to eat at the coffee shop. You can also take some more timwe to relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds of the traditionally built museum, and since there is a lot of walking involved, it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes.
The gardening workshop in the ethnobotanical garden is a must see for those who like to get in touch with nature. Otherwise it offers a comprehensive study on ethnic plants and trees of the region.

Take a walk down by the River
Greater Beirut 

Ideal for those who don't want to venture too far, three rivers are virtually on the doorstep of Beirut city center. While the mouth of each river doesn't leave much to be desired heading inland a few kilometers reveals some great springtime surprises.

Beirut River
According to local legend, St George slew the dragon at the mouth of this river. Today we recommend that you head further inland to see the river at its best. Nestled in a valley between the Beirut suburbs of Mansourieh and Hazmieh, the river flows under a Roman aqueduct, aptly named the Aqueducts of Zenobia. Restored and maintained by the Ministry of Tourism, there are ample pathways along the river that take strollers among all manner of plant life and wild orchards. To reach the area, head towards Mansourieh and turn right, down to Belle Vue Medical Center.

Antelias River

Antelias Upper River is amazing after heavy rain. Gigantic water pools form jets from holes deep underground. The scene is best viewed at the 100 year old Casino Fawar, where water springs emerge from beneath the restaurant. It's an ideal stop over for for breakfast or lunch as the river gushes by, before heading onwards and upwards to a prehistoric cave situated to the left side of a quarry. Ancient skulls gathered from the cave are now on view at Beirut Museum.

Nahr el Kalb 
Just north of Beirut, the peaceful waters of this short river flow from a spring in Jeita along a 31 km course, though a scenic valley to the Mediterranean Sea. The mouth of the Dog River has been the site of a series of monuments erected by past conquerors and generals, such as the graceful bridge built by Sultan Selim in 1914. The best walk is along the inside river bank on the opposite side to the road. Stroll along the pedestrian only path and discover wild orchards and traditional Lebanese houses. If you are lucky, you may even be invited in to share lunch with a family. If not, there are numerous riverside eateries to choose from.

The North 
Nahr Ibrahim

Popular with picnickers, the valley of the Ibrahim River is a wild and beautiful area famed for both its historical and religious significance. Mythology locates the river as the scene of the tragic love story of Venus and Adonis. A Roman aqueduct can be seen where the valley forks as well as the Roman temple of Yanuh, Aqoura and Afqa. Upstream, there are a number of riverside cafes that make for a pleasant stopover.

Al Assi River
Known as the 'rebel' or 'disobedient one', the Al Assi River flows from its source in the Bekaa northwards into Syria and onwards to Turkey. Lebanon's foremost river is perhaps not the best for genteel walks. But, all is not lost. Flowing a rocky course, the Assi is ideal for those seeking white knuckle thrills. Rafting is the sport of choice here with class I to till difficulty at certain parts near Hermil.

The South
Litani River
The Litani River, flowing at 140 km entirely within Lebanon, is the longest river in the country. Initially flowing parallel to the Syrian border, it bends westwards near the Hasbani River at Qasimiyeh. A good place to walk is by the Litani Dam at Qraoun, where there is a 1,350 m long artificial lake lined with a few small hotels and restaurants serving fresh trout. At Nahr Abou Assouad, just 10 km north of Tyre, a great landmark is the Leontes Bridge, with a segment arch structure that dates back to the ancient Roman era.

Lebanon's River
In mythology Nahr Ibrahim is known as the river of the god Adonis . Adonis was said to have been gravely injured as a result of falling prey to a wild hog and when his beloved, the goddess Astrate, ran to save his life, his blood mixed with the waters of the river.

None of Lebanon's rivers are navigable. The Al Assi River is the only river in Lebanon to flow from the south to the north. The Litani  River irrigates one of the largest irrigated areas in the nation, consisting of 32.64 km2.

Al Jawz River (Nahr Abu Ali), Antelias River, Arqa River, Assi River, Astoun River, Awali River, Beirut River, Damour River, Hasbani River, Kadisha River, Litani River, Al Bared River, Al Kabir River, Al Kalb River, Siniq River and Zahrani River.

Migratory birds use Lebanon's waterways as stopping points on their journey to Africa and Europe. Numerous bats can be found in many of the riverside caves and wild boar and hyenas often go to the water's edge for a drink.

The veteran botanists
Cyclamen Libanoticum

Pioneering researchers and academics in the field of biodiversity in Lebanon, husband and wife duo, Georges and Henriette Tohme are on a life long journey  to document the flora and fauna of Lebanon.

Inside a 1950s Achrafieh apartment block, Georges and Henriette Tohme sip on Arabic coffee with a pile of botany and wildlife books surrounding them. The long married couple has dedicated their lives to the study of nature in Lebanon and pioneered documentation and research in the field. Perhaps unusually, they have built their careers together, from documenting plant specimens in the field to co authoring books that have covered everything fro, the flora of Lebanon to ants and birds with Henriette hand sketching the accompanying illustrations.

Georges started working in botany in 1959 when the study of Lebanon's unique ecosystems barely existed. it was a field of research that him and his wife pioneered and now most of the professors of biology in Lebanon's universities are their ex-students. 'We were the first to document Lebanon's wildlife," Georges says. "Nobody had spoken about biodiversity here Henriette and me wrote many books on the ecology of Lebanon, studying the influence of temperature, rainfall and other factors."

Henriette brings out the couple's life's work, an extensive flower and plant encyclopedia , '"Illustrated Flora of Lebanon," released at the end of 2013 , documents Lebanon's rich and varied biodiversity in plants and flowers. Their second edition, it is the work of years of painstaking research in the field, hunting for flowers and plants all around the country, once thought extinct.

Iris Sofarana
In total, the Tohme's have identified 2,612 plant and flower species, with 108 unique to Lebanon, including the plant, Salvia Peyronii, first discovered in Lebanon 200 years ago, but long thought disappeared "For such a small country Lebanon is rich in biodiversity," Georges says. "Within one and a half hours from the sea to the mountains you pass through continues, "There is a big variety of biotopes: the beach, the lower mountains,  upper mountains, high peaks, the valleys and the Bekaa Valley which is very unique for plant species."

Georges and Henriette bring out book after book from every extensive library' they know every botanist who has ever studied the ecology of Lebanon by heart, from a Russian studying Arabic in Beirut back in 1896, who wrote "Beirut and Mount Lebanon at the first step of the 19th century," to the English botanist P.H. Davis, of whose discoveries in the book "Flora of Turkey" on the Syrian side of the Anti Lebanon mountains they were pleased to uncover for the first time in Lebanon.

They are also early environmentalists who pioneered the discussion about protection of natural habitats before it became a hot topic. "On 5 June 1973, I proposed the first natural reserve in Lebanon on the Palm Islands of Tripoli," says Georges, "It was an international meeting for towns on the Mediterranean sea to help protect the habitats of migrating birds. The president of the Lebanese Republic at the time was so interested he told the police not to let anyone on these islands with a gun to hunt anymore. Everyone was in disbelief ," he laughs, in '74 Georges wrote a study on  how to prepare the Chouf Cedars as a natural reserve,. Henriette made one on Ehden, Tannourine and later in Tyre, all of which have now become protected areas.
Papaver Umbonatum

For Georges and Henriette passing their knowledge on to the next generation has always been essential. "We are biologists from the beginning but have always been teachers," Henriette says. "We want to give what we know to the younger generation and we learn very much from them

Though Georges retired 20 years ago, the couple are both still active in the field and their work is  never done. While many species of plants disappear, new ones sometimes appear in the most unexpected places. Not long after their book "illustrated Flora of Lebanon," came out, the couple discovered a new species of flower, growing out of the wall of the American University of Sciences and Technologies (AUST), just around the corner from their home, after they had searched for its existence all over the Lebanese countryside. A sign perhaps that their work will never end.