Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mount Lebanon, Lebanon - What to see & do

Aley
Aley City, Lebanon
Al Amir Al Sayyed Abdallah Al Tannoukeih Shrine
Al Amir Al Sayyed is considered one of the most important Druze religious leaders because of his wisdom, asceticism, and religious faith. He founded the Religious, Conduct, and Social Rules that are still used by religious Druze to this day. He also wrote extensively on literary, religious, judicial, and social matters. He insisted on educating both female and male children, and treating women as equal to men. A shrine dedicated to the leader is located south of Beirut in Aabey, on a hill overlooking the mountains and coast.



Al Sharif Shrine
Overlooking a beautiful valley, the shrine is identified with Imam Bahaa Al Dine Al Sammouki, who was famous for wisdom, asceticism, and faith. He was a prominent figure who called for unification during the Fattimi era. It is one of the most important religious sites for the Druze and the location of many ceremonies to celebrate the unification.

Animal Encounter
Animal Encounter is a zoo-like educational center for wildlife conservation established in 1993. The center houses and cares for orphaned or wounded animals and birds, and tries to release them back to the wild when possible. The center also includes a botanical garden.

Baabda
Baabda, Lebanon

Bzebdine Hidden Valley Resort
The Bzebdine Hidden Valley Resort hosts horseback riding and outdoor fun for visitors of all ages. Accommodations include tents and wooden cabins that can be rented, or rooms in the auberge. Activities include horseback riding, self-guided hiking trails, biking, caving, and rapelling. There is an open-air restaurant on the premises, which offers a special Sunday brunch and barbeque from April through October.

Hammana
At an elevation of 1150m above sea level, Hammana sits in a tree-filled valley nestled between the mountains. Hammana is mixture of a traditional Lebanese village and a resort town with a variety of restaurants, cafes, entertainment, and nightlife. It is a popular summer resort due to its mild summer climate and beautiful mountain setting, and the region is rich in water and natural springs. There are two notable historic sites in Hammana: the Bon Pasteur Monastery (1895), and the Mehzer Palace or “Al-Moukaddemine house,” which the French poet Lamartine visited almost 200 years ago. Hammana was once a center for the silk industry, with large quantities of silk exported to Italy and France from the 18th through the early 20th centuries. Its huge 19th century silk factory has been converted into a school. Hammana is also famous for its cherry and apple trees, and for the local Hammana beans (“lubieh hammanieh”). The name “Hammana” is believed to come from the name of the Phoenician Sun God “Hammon” or “Hamman.”

Imam Al Ouzai Mosque & Shrine
The Imam Al Ouzai Mosque and Shrine located on the seaside at the southern edge of Beirut. Imam Adbul-Rahman al-Ouzai was born in Baalbeck in 706 and died in Beirut in 774, and he was revered for his piety, knowledge of Islamic law, and interpretation of the Koran. The mosque is a simple, domed structure with a minaret, which has been rebuilt many times because of earthquakes. Imam Ouzai’s marble tomb, encircled by a wooden enclosure built in 1939, is located in the modern part of the mosque, which was constructed in the early 19th century. The older part of the mosque, dating from the 8th century (Abbasid era), has a prayer hall with a marble plaque set above the mihrab. Dated 1902, the plaque bears the name of Iman Ouzai.

Monastery of St. George (Greek Orthodox)
The Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. George is located in a pine forest in the mountain village of Deir el-Harf. The first monastery on this site was built in the 5th century on the ruins of a Roman temple, and was later destroyed by Sultan Bybros in the 13th century. According to legend, in 1326, a shepherd slept in the ruins of the monastery and in a dream saw St. George, who ordered him to stay in this place and revive the monastic life. Later, St. George appeared to other inhabitants of the region and healed several people, and the monastery became a place of pilgrimage. Similar to the architecture of other Orthodox monasteries built before the 18th century, the Monastery of St. George has a characteristic inner courtyard. The stone church dates to 1790, and it has a beautiful wooden iconostasis and and extensive collection of icons, mostly from the 19th century. The frescoes covering the walls and vaults were completed in 1971-72 by painters from Romania. The monastery also houses many old manuscripts, most notably one of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, written in 1769.

Yuppie Parc
A playground, outdoor park, and snackshop.

Chouf
Chouf Cedars Natural Reserve
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 accommodation facilities are available. Outdoor activities in the reserve include hiking and trekking (1,300m to 2,000m), bird watching from the watch tower beside the lake, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.

Baadarane
This town in the Shouf is known for its building and monuments dating from the Ottoman period, particularly the Palace of Ali Pacha Jumblatt, who was an ally of Fakhreddine. Hiking in the surrounding areas is possible.

Beit Ed Dine Palace
Beiteddine is the name of a village in the Shouf and a beautiful 19th century palace located there. The Ottoman-appointed governor, Prince Emir Bachir Chehab II, had the palace constructed over a 30 year period. It is notable as the best example of 19th century Lebanese architecture and for its impressive collection of Byzantine mosaics excavated from a former church and displayed in the lower part of the palace. Beiteddine is also famous for its annual summer festival (July to August) featuring a variety of big name Arab and international entertainers.

Cape of Prophet Jonas: Ras en Nabi Youness
This area commemorates the place where the prophet Jonas was swallowed by a whale, and after 3 days and 3 nights was disgorged onto the shore. There is a shrine dedicated to the prophet located here.

Chhime
An important archaeological site in the lower Shouf area. Two Roman temples were excavated and restored. Recently a Byzantine church was discovered with mosaics, in addition to an old oil press and houses.

Church of Our Lady of the Hill: Saydet Et Talleh
The church dates from the 7th century and is built on the site of a Phoenician temple to the goddess Astarte. Destroyed by an earthquake, Fakhreddine had the church rebuilt in the 16th century. It was further enlarged in the 17th century, the version of the building we see today. On the southern wall is a large stone sculpture of a crescent moon under a cross, a reference to the name Deir El Qamar, the “monastery of the moon.”

Deir El Qamar
Located in the Chouf, the picturesque village of Deir El Qamar was the residence of the Ottoman-appointed governors of Lebanon beginning in the 16th century with Emir Fakhreddine II and lasting until the 18th century when Emir Bechir II Chehab moved the capital to Beit Ed Dine. Under Fakhreddine II, many steps were taken to beautify the town including the construction of new buildings and restorations of older ones, such as the Mosque of Fakhreddine.

Fakhreddine Mosque
Located near the Deir el Qamar souq, the mosque of Fahkreddine was originally constructed in 1493 in the Mamluk style. The mosque was refurbished by Fakhreddine in the 17th century and is representative of the style of mosque found in Mount Lebanon during the reign of Fakhreddine. The mosque was refurbished in 1987. Note: According to Islamic tradition, non-Muslims are typically not allowed to enter mosques or sacred sites. However, non-Muslim visitors may be able to visit the courtyard gardens and may find someone they can ask for permission to enter. Visitors should be appropriately attired and remove their shoes before entering. Entry is not permitted during prayer hours and not permitted at any time during the month of Ramadan.

Grotto of Fakhreddine: Shqif Tyron
This cave near Niha overlooking Jezzine was used by the Crusaders as an observation point on the road that used to link Sidon to the Bekaa. The cave is famous for being the place of refuge for Emir Fakhreddine II who was trying to escape capture by the Ottomans in the 17th century. He was captured, however, and taken to Istanbul where he was later executed in 1633.

Jonas Beach
This popular beach area is located about 20km south of Beirut, near Sidon. The sandy beach attracts water enthusiasts and sunbathers. Access is limited to seasonal members or by paying an entrance fee. Facilities include a cabin per visitor, five lifeguards, and 20 showers with chlorinated water. The beach restaurant serves snacks, fish and bbq.

Khraibe
This village in the Chouf is characterized by traditional houses, ancient oil presses and old oak trees. You can visit Druze cemeteries and see elderly sheiks from the Druze community. Accommodation includes a local guesthouse.

Maaser el Chouf
A traditional, rural village in the Shouf region with an old town square and old mill site. The St. Michael Convent has been renovated into a Bed & Breakfast accommodation. The village is located at the edge of the Al Shouf Cedar Reserve and is about 7km from one of the oldest groves of cedar trees.

Marie Baz Wax Museum
Created by the Baz family in the village of Deir el Qamar, the Marie Baz Wax Museum contains a collection of 70 life-like wax figures representing important people throughout Lebanese history. The Museum is located in the 17th century Palace of Fakhreddine, which is an interesting historical structure in itself.

Monastery of the Holy Savior: Deir El Moukhalless
This Greek Catholic monastery was built in 1711 on the spot where a miracle is said to have occurred. The story goes that in the 18th century some pilgrims were following Aftimos Saifi, the bishop of Tyre and Sidon. Upon reaching the top of a hill, the group was greeted by villages, all of whom carried arms. A gun went off and shot one of the pilgrims with the hit person crying, “Oh, savior of the world.” Shortly thereafter, the pilgrim got up and walked away, completely healed. The bishop ordered a monastery to be built on this site. The monastery has played a big role in education, having established a school for the children of Palestinian refugees. It is also known for its collection of ancient books, manuscripts and iconostasis.

Moukhtara
This town is famous for being the seat of the Jumblatt family, the leaders of the Druze community in the Shouf. The Jumblatt family home and the tomb of Kamal Jumblatt are located here. The town is also notable for its beautiful houses, old oil presses, churches, and Moukhtara Castle.

Niha

Shrine of Nabi Ayoub (St. Job)
A shrine to Nabi Ayoub, or Job, was built on a summit overlooking the village of Niha, where the prophet is believed to be buried. Pilgrims come to this site to obtain blessings.

El Meten
Zaarour Ski Resort

Abyss Diving Club
The Abyss Diving Club offers several courses including Open Water, Master Scuba Diver, Nitrox Diver, etc. Certifications include Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).

Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
This is the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchal seat, established in 1930. The St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, located here, was built in the pure Armenian architectural style in 1940. A large museum composed of three levels was established in 1998, and it is rich with religious artifacts and treasures brought with the Armenians following the Armenian genocide. A chapel in the cathedral contains a memorial to the 1915 Armenian genocide. A theological seminary and an extensive library, containing Armenian books and historical texts, are also located here.

Beit Chabab
The village of Beit Chabab is famous for its traditional crafts of pottery and bell making. It is home to Lebanon’s only bell foundry, which makes large bronze bells for churches throughout the country. The pottery workshops, which are open in the summer, make large storage jars for olive oil, preserved meats, and arak (liquor). The village also has many picturesque traditional houses and churches, including the Church of Our Lady of the Forest (Saydet el Ghabeh), dating from 1761.

Beit Chabab Crafts Workshops
The crafts workshops in the village of Beit Chabab have preserved the traditional Lebanese crafts of pottery and bell making. The pottery workshops create a variety of vessels and containers, including large jars used for storing olive oil, preserved meats and arak. At the only bell foundry in Lebanon, craftsmen create large bronze bells for churches across the country. You can visit the workshops to see the craftsmen at work, and also purchase a variety of products.

Beit Mery
At 800 meters above sea level, Beit Mery is a summer resort town that offers panoramic views of the sea and cool summer breezes, in close proximity to Beirut. It is known for its hospitable people and has many first class hotels, restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs. Beit Mary also boasts interesting historical treasures, including a 17th century Maronite Monastery (Deir el-Qalaa) and Roman and Byzantine ruins, located between town’s main roundabout and the Al Bustan Hotel. Nearby, the old Marsassine Church is worth visiting for its unusual staircase leading up to the bell tower. Beit Mery also has an old souq and an arts center. A classical music and arts festival, hosted by the Al Bustan Hotel, is held here every February.

Le Zoo
A small zoo which also organizes outdoor birthday parties for children in the summer.

Monastery of St. John of Chouweir: Deir Et Tabcheh
The Melchite Catholic Monastery of St. John of Chouweir was founded in 1696-97. It is famous for being the site the first Arabic printing press in the Middle East in 1734. The monastery has three churches, the oldest (dedicated to St. John the Baptist), dating from the 12th century. The second church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, dates from the 18th century and is notable for its beautiful wooden iconostasis. The monastery is known for its excellent library and museum displaying the old printing presses and related objects. The founder of the press, Abdallah el Zakher, was from Aleppo.

Monastery of St. John the Baptist: Deir el-Qalaa
Situated near the village of Beit Mery, this Maronite monastery was built on the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to Baal Marqod (1st century AD), which in turn was constructed on the ruins of an earlier Phoenician temple. The monastery was constructed with stones from the Roman temple, and there are several Roman columns built into its walls. The monastery bears an inscription over its door with the date 1768, although it has been rebuilt many times since then and was heavily damaged during the war. Nearby are the ruins of a small Roman temple dedicated to the god Juno. There are also remains of a 6th century Byzantine church with a well preserved mosaic floor. Also at the site are the ruins of an extensive bath complex, several other temples, and a colonnaded street. The monastery and ruins are located between the main roundabout in Beit Mery and the Al Bustan Hotel.

Mtein
The rock-cut tombs in Mtein indicate that the village’s history dates back to the Roman-Byzantine era. However, the village is most famous for its feudal architecture, which residents are working to protect and restore. In the early 16th century, the Abillama Emirs (princes) moved here and constructed grand buildings and palaces, many of which can still be seen today around the village’s main square or “midan.” The west palace on the square is notable for its enclosed window balcony, while the south palace has an elegant restored doorway. The long east palace, which is being repaired from war damage, used to have an enclosed balcony and the remnants of the wooden structure and stone supports can still be seen. Down the hill behind the south palace is a square stone qubba with a domed roof. Through the window you can see a typical Druze tomb with head and foot stones. There is also a tower called Bourj Al-Mssailkeh from the same period. Mtein was very influential during the Ottoman period in the 19th century, and it used to have many silk factories. Today, it is famous for producing Arak.

Putt-Putt Golf & Games
A leisure park that offers numerous indoor and outdoor activities, including a play maze, kiddy rides, video arcade games, miniature golf, wall climbing, animated birthday parties, and summer camps.

Qanat Bakiche Ski Resort
One of Lebanon’s smallest ski resorts, Qanat Bakiche (1,910m to 2,050m) is located on the slopes of Jebel Sannine. The quality of the snow and the non-crowded slopes attract skiers of all levels. There are seven slopes, one ski-lift, and one baby-lift. Qanat Bakiche has become a popular venue for ski competitions in Lebanon. The resort has been significantly expanded in recent years, and it has gotten a boost with the construction of a new road connecting it with Faqra. New snow plough equipment ensures that the roads are kept open throughout the ski season. The ski resort is managed by the Snow Land hotel, which offers ski equipment rental and ski instruction. The small village of Qanat Bakiche is also worth a visit. It is a well-preserved, old Lebanese village.

Roman Temple of Aintoura
All that remains from the ancient Roman Temple of Aintoura are some scattered stones from the temple’s foundations and walled enclosure. Unfortunately, many of the stones were removed in the late 1980s and used to build a church. Close to the temple site is a rock-cut necropolis dating from the Roman or Byzantine era. The temple ruins are located along on the road from Bikfaya to Zahle. Just before the road makes a wide loop to climb to Aintoura, a trail on the righthand side descends into the valley. An easy half-hour walk takes you to the temple site. Along the way, you will also see some large sarcophagi from the Roman and Byzantine eras.

Roman Temple of Ej-Jaoz
Built on a hill overlooking Wadi al Jamajem, or “Valley of the Skulls,” and dominated by the impressive slopes of Mount Sannine, this Roman temple is only partially intact. Some walls can still be seen in addition to one the biggest sarcophagi in Lebanon.

Sharewood Camp
Located in a pine forest high in the mountians, Sharewood Camp offers outdoor activities and camping for families. Activities include archery, caving, cycling, hiking, rapelling, rock climbing, and swimming. Young children will enjoy visiting the farmyard animals, taking a donkey ride, and playing at the camp’s outdoor playground and garden area. Sharewood Camp provides equipment, instructors, and insurance for all activities. You can tailor-make your activity package based on your interests, the length of your stay, and the size of your group. The Camp provides 20 tents, with zippered sides, which can accommodate up to five persons. Each tent is equipped with mattresses, pillows, power connections, trash bins, lights, and a lock/key. Shared shower and toilet facilities are provided in a common building. There is a restaurant located on the premises.

Splash Mountain
This water park has several water slides, pools, geysers and a wave pool. Facilities also include several snack shops and three basketball courts.

Water Gate
A water park with a wave pool, slides, and roller coaster type ride. Facilities include lockers, standard cabanas, and deluxe cabanas with private toilet and shower facilities.

Waves Aqua Park
 A water park which includes a wave pool complete with a replica of a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees, a lazy river, a kids pool and assortment of water slides. The snack shop serves burgers, salads and sandwiches.

Whiz Club
Provides school and after-school programs for children ages 3-16 years of age. Activities are focused on the development of children’s creativity and artistic ability and on math, science and technology education. Offers special classes and workshops in a variety of sports, educational, and arts activities.

Wonders of the Sea
A small aquarium housing fish and invertebrates native to the Lebanese coast: rays, remora, sea horses and octopus. Collections of shells and coral, as well as dried echinoderm, sponges, crustaceans and replicas of sharks and porpoises are also on display.

Zaarour Ski Resort
A small ski resort (1,700m to 2,000m), Zaarour was destroyed twice during the war. It has been rebuilt as a private ski club managed by the Zaarour Country Club, but it will accept visitors who want to ski here. Located on the southern slopes of Jebel Sannine, the ski resort is the closest in proximity to Beirut. The north-facing slopes offer good quality of snow and a panoramic view of the famous Wadi Jamajem (Valley of the Skulls). Zaarour is also known for its excellent cross country skiing. You can rent ski equipment at the slopes, or nearby in Mrouj village.

Jbeil
Byblos Port: Jbeil

Aaqoura 
The village of Aaqoura is located below steep rock cliffs at the head of the Nahr Ibrahim Valley. Aaqoura is believed to be the first Lebanese village to undergo conversion to Christianity by the Maronite missionary Abraham in the 5th century AD, and there are over 40 churches in the village. The cave Chapel of St. Peter (Mar Boutros) is hollowed out of a cliff face above the village, and was originally a Roman tomb. It can be reached by a steep stairway carved out of the rock. Another cave chapel dedicated to St. Simon dates to the Crusader period. This chapel is reached by going south around the cliff of the Mar Boutros chapel, and following a trail leading from the outskirts of the village. The St. Simon chapel has a beautiful setting with craggy landscapes and beautiful views of the valley below. The St. Simon chapel has a beautiful setting with craggy landscapes and beautiful views of the valley below. Above the chapel in the forest overlooking the village are six Roman forestry inscriptions dating from the time of Hadrian (117-138 AD). In ancient times, a pilgrimage route ran from Afqa, through Aaqoura, over the mountains to the town of Yammouneh in the Bekaa Valley. You can see portions of the Roman road in Aaqoura, and also beyond the St. Simon chapel at Draj Mar Sem’an. Independent hiking is not recommended here due to the possibility of landmines. Cross country skiing is popular in the region, and the Grotto of Roueiss is located 2 km to the south.

Al-Amir Youssef Al-Chehabi Mosque
This Ottoman-era mosque was built in 1648 in the older part of Byblos. Located next to the fortress of Sultan Abed Al Majed, the mosque was renovated by Emir Youssef Chehab in 1783. The mosque is near the square and the entrance of the archaeological site in the medieval quarter of Byblos.

Bentael Nature Reserve
Bentael Nature Reserve was established in 1981 through private efforts by local citizens and was officially designated as a nature reserve in 1999. Located 7km northeast of Byblos, at 300-850 meters of elevation, the Reserve represents a typical Mediterranean pine forest (Pinus pinea). The 2 square km park is situated on a stretch of chalky limestone rocks, and many marine fossils have been found in the rocks around the park. Bentael Reserve harbors a great variety of plants and animals, including foxes, jackals, porcupines, hedgehogs, chameleons, geckos, and butterflies. It is an excellent place for hiking. A small stream runs through the park during the rainy season (November to April), and during the dry season the stream bed contains small pools of water that sustain the wildlife. Also located in the park are the ruins of the small Hermitage of St. John and Mahbassa Grotto, where a Maronite monk is believed to have lived in solitude for 40 years in the 18th or 19th centuries. The word “Bentael” means “the daughter of God” in Syriac.

Byblos: Jbeil
A thriving modern town built upon multiple layers of ruins, Byblos is a mix of sophistication and tradition. A contender for the title of “oldest continuously inhabited city,” Byblos is part of the coastal area once known as Canaan or Phoenicia. Modern scholars believe the site of Byblos dates back at least 7,000 years (5,000-4,000 BC). The city’s current name is taken from the Greek word for “papyrus” (paper). Byblos was not only a major trading center and producer of papyrus, but is also famous for being the city where Phoenician scholars created the world’s first alphabet. Byblos has extensive archaeological ruins which have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins range from Stone Age huts to a Roman theater to a Persian fortress and an impressive Crusader castle. Take a walk through the medieval quarter of the city and explore the old souqs (markets), the medieval ramparts, and several beautiful old churches. The small, harbor was once a thriving commercial center, where Lebanon’s cedar wood was shipped thoughout the region in ancient times. Visit the Wax Museum and Fossil Museum to explore the region’s political and natural history. An international music festival is held in Byblos each summer.

Camping Les Colombes
The first equipped campsite in Lebanon, Les Colombes is perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the sea. Visitors can pitch their own tent or rent them. Swimming, cycling and walks are popular activities.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (St. Jean Marc): Mar Youhanna
Not far from the old souqs of Byblos stands the Crusader cathedral of St. Jean Marc, or St John the Baptist, as it is usually referred to. Construction began in 1115AD, with additional structures added over time, such as the Italianate-style domed, open air baptistery (13th century) and the sacristy. In the 18th century, the beautiful church was given to the Maronite community by Emir Youssef Chehab. It was severely damaged during the British bombardment of 1840, and in 1947 it was restored and the bell tower was added. The architectural style of the church is Roman but reflects the oriental Byzantine influence. In the garden to the west of the church, adjacent to the church courtyard, are traces of mosaic paving and the foundations from an early Byzantine church that once stood on this site.

Chapel of St. Simon: Mar Semaan
The rock-cut Chapel of St. Simon is located in Wadi al Bawalih, east of the village of Abaydat. It takes an hour-long hike from Abaydat to reach the chapel, walking along a river valley and then climbing up a steep, 3-4 meter hill where the cave chapel is set in a cliff. The hike is not very difficult, and it offers beautiful views and interesting flora and fauna. The chapel has well preserved frescoes from the 12th-13th centuries. The frescoes depict Christ seated on a throne between the Virgin and St. John the Baptist, who are flanked by two seraphim with an inscription in Syriac. Below the scene are figures of disciples and church fathers.

Church of St. Charbel the Ancient
The Church of St. Charbel the Ancient was built in the 12th century AD. The original church on this site may date to the 6th century, and was constructed on the foundations of a Roman temple. Many architectural elements and columns from the temple are inside the church or scattered around the site. Inside, the church is decorated with Byzantine-style frescoes from the pre-Crusader and Crusader periods. Tombs from the Crusader era can be found under the church, including one possibly belonging to Anne Boulanger, a Frankish woman who died in 1243. The church is located in the village of Maad, set in the hills northeast of Byblos, and has a beautiful view of the coast.

Church of St. Simeon the Stylite
The Crusaders built this small chapel for the purpose of housing a piece of column about 4 meters high. This stylite column is believed to be the column on which the hermit, St. Simeon, used to pray. The Stylites, or pillar saints, were renowned for spending years standing on high, unsheltered pillars, day and night, summer and winter, without food or water, in prayer.

Church of St. Theodore: Mar Tedros
The Church of St. Theodore is a small chapel dating from the 12th or 13th century. The church houses some of the most complete frescoes in Lebanon, including depictions of Christ in the church apse, images of St. Theodore and St. George on horseback along the side walls, and scenes from the Old Testament on the domed ceiling. Also look for the Syriac inscription above the nave. The church is fashioned in the Crusader style with a Byzantine influence. It is a small, square structure made from rough stones, with an unusual enclosed porch. Remnants of ancient Greek and Roman structures from the area were incorporated into the church building.

Grotto of Afqa
Located at the foot of Mount Jabal El Mnaitra, the Grotto of Afqa is the legendary source of the Nahr Ibrahim River (Adonis River). The waters of the river emerge from a spring deep inside the cave and torrent over a 200 meter high cliff in the winter and spring. At the bottom of the waterfall is a Roman bridge and a small riverside cafe. In the summer and fall, when the water slows to a trickle, it is possible to explore the cave. A rough path leads up the right side of the river bank to the opening of the cave, which is situated high up on the cliff face. The cave is 3,600m long. It is here that the myth of Adonis and Venus (the Phoenician goddes Astarte) originated. According to mythology, this site is where they exchanged their first kiss. It is also where Adonis met his death, killed by a wild boar while hunting. His lover Venus tried to save him, but it was too late. The red tint of the riverwater in springtime is attributed to the blood of Adonis. In reality, the water’s red tint comes from minerals in the iron-rich soil that are picked up the river flows down the valley. The area around the cave has many shrines and grottos dedicated to Adonis and Venus, including the ruins of the Roman Temple of Venus just a short walk away from the cave. The area is ideal for swimming, picnicking, and hiking along the river.

Grotto of Ain El Libne
Located near Aaqoura, this 4,560m cave is a relatively good one for beginners. First explored in 1962, a major survey of the cave was undertaken in the mid-1990s. It is the third longest cave in Lebanon. There is a stream running through the cave, and three levels with narrow passageways and chambers of various sizes. Visitors interested in caving should contact one of the caving clubs for an expert guide.

Grotto of Roueiss
Located near the village of Aaqoura, the Grotto of Roueiss is the second longest cave in Lebanon (5,066m), after the Jeita Grotto. The cave boasts some amazing stalactites and stalagmites and other rock formations created by the seeping water. There are many large chambers, as well as narrow and low passageways. The cave is very accessible for beginners, because you can walk from the entrance to the exit. However, visitors interested in caving should go with an expert guide. Contact one of the caving clubs or La Reserve for a guide. There is a natural bridge near the two entrances to the cave, and there is also a resaturant serving trout nearby. High on the cliff above Roueiss is the Chapel of Saint John (Mar Youhanna). You must make a steep climb up the cliff to reach the chapel. The chapel is inside a cave that goes back for 500 meters and has a small spring. Domestic remains left by cave dwellers from the Bronze Age to the Medieval era have been found here.

Haqel
The village of Haqel, located in the heights northeast of Byblos, was part of the seabed between 60-100 million years ago. Today 650 meters above sea level, the area is known for its limestone formations containing fossilized fish, crustaceans, and flora and fauna specimens. The village is a major research center for experts in the field of marine fossils, and its fossils have been studied by scientific organizations around the world. The Haqel Museum, located here, is the first natural history museum dedicated to marine fossils in Lebanon. The collection includes over 300 species and 600 pieces, some dating back over 80 million years.

Hermitage of St. John
This small rock-cut hermitage dedicated to Saint John is located inside a cliff overlooking the Bentael Nature Reserve. It is believed that a Maronite monk lived in solitude here for 40 years in the 18th or 19th centuries. You can reach the hermitage by hiking through the Reserve.

La Reserve Afqa
La Reserve Afqa was the first nature and adventure resort in Lebanon. Situated on the plateau overlooking the Nahr Ibrahim Valley, it lies in the middle of a Juniper and conifer forest. Activities sponsored by La Reserve Afqa include camping, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, caving, archery, team building, and family and school programs.

Laqlouq Ski Resort
Established in the 1960s, the Laqlouq Ski Resort is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. Most of the slopes are gentle and are suitable for beginners and intermediate skiiers, and there is one technically challenging Alpine slope. The area offers excellent cross country skiing and snow-shoeing. The Laqlouq resort has three chair-lifts, three ski-lifts, and three baby-lifts, as well as ski instruction, chalets, a swimming pool, and other facilities. It offers ski equipment for hire, as well as bikes for rent in the summertime. The ski resort is managed by the Shangri-La Hotel, and there are several other hotels in the region.

Libana Eco-Fun Camp
Libana Eco-Fun Camp is a campsite that offers a variety of activities, such as hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, cultural group discussions, karaoke, 4x4 motorcycling, and competitive games.

Mashnaqa High Place
This isolated, high altar sits on a plateau overlooking the Nahr Ibrahim (Adonis) River. Originally a typical Phoenician “high place,” or sacred site, the site was later adopted by the Romans. The ruins are reached by a set of steps just outside the Mashnaqa village, passing through a narrow cleft cut into the rocks and carved with bas-reliefs. The temple is marked by a large rectangular wall with a monumental gateway, which has been fairly well preserved. In the center there is a square Roman “cella” (a sanctuary containing an altar) surrounded by four remaining columns. The cella was built upon the bases two earlier altars, which were re-oriented by the Romans for their own rituals. The cella has no door, and worship was carried out by walking around the monument. It is believed that the temple was dedicated to Adonis. The rocks overlooking the road to the site are carved with funerary caves, some of which still have their lids. Almost every tomb has sculpted bas-relief scenes that relate to funeral rites or the hunting prowess of the deceased. The site has beautiful views, and it is excellent for picnicking and hiking.

Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq (Deir Saydat Mayfouq) and Church of Our Lady of Elige (Maronite)
The Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq and Church of Our Lady of Elige was the second seat of the Maronite Patriarch in Lebanon. The ancient stone church has been refurbished, and it is believed to be one of the oldest monasteries in Lebanon, possibly dating back to 850 AD. A Syriac inscription on the church wall, dating to 1276, reads: “In the name of the eternally living God, in the year 1588 of the Greek era, this Jacobite temple to the Mother of God, who prays for us, was finished. Amen. By the hands of the bishops Mark and John.” The building is notable for its arcades, colonnades, and barrel vaulting. Around 1851, the revered Saint Charbel spent a year at the monastery here. In 1922, a college was founded at the monastery, and it is still active today as an agricultural school. There is a museum of traditional crafts and religious articles at the monastery. The monastery also houses a famous Italianate painting of the Madonna and Christ child, probably dating to the 10th century.

Monastery of St. Antonios
A rock-cut monastery built into a cliff overlooking the canyon of Wadi Bawalih. No written evidence mentions this site, but going by some of its architectural elements, it is likely to have been built in the 13th century. You must hike into the valley, east of Abaydat, to reach the monastery.

Nahr Ibrahim Valley: Adonis River Valley
The Nahr Ibrahim (Adonis) River runs through this legendary valley as it travels from the Grotto of Afqa out to the Mediterranean sea. The valley is famed for its historical and religious significance. It is known as the river of the god Adonis and the site of the tragic Adonis and Venus love story from mythology. In ancient times, a pilgrimage road ran along the north side of the river to Afqa. At the mouth of the valley on the coast, there is an Ottoman-era bridge, built in 1806. As you travel along the valley there are many pleasant riverside cafes. Further on, where the valley forks, are the remains of a Roman aqueduct. The most beautiful stretch of the valley, perfect for hiking and trekking, begins at the village of Yahshoush, and continues in the direction of Afqa. You can take the footpaths near the water and can spend the night at a relatively high altitude, in the villages of Aabri, Qartaba, or Afqa. Notable sites along the valley include the Phoenician high place at Mashnaqa, the Roman temple at Yanouh, Aaqoura, and Afqa. The area is inhabited by virgin Mediterranean conifer forests.

Roman Temple of Yanouh and Church of St. George the Blue (Mar Girgis al-Azrak)
Located on a plateau east of the village of Qartaba are the remains of a 2nd century Roman temple, probably built upon an earlier Phoenician temple. Although little is known about this site, it recently underwent scientific excavations. It is believed that the area was an important dwelling-place in Roman times, and there are signs of early agricultural development dating back to the 8th century BC. The temple walls and a small shrine are still intact. There was an elevated platform or “adyton” at the back of the temple, which is typical of Roman temples in Lebanon, and can be seen at the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbeck. However, the tall windows on either side of the center of the temple were a unique feature at Yanouh. Another very rare feature is a Hellenistic ritual platform, built over the Roman shrine. Around the 8th century AD, the temple was converted to a church, when a chapel was built over the temple remains. The church was called “Saint George the Blue” (Mar Girgis al-Azraq), probably because of the bluish tint of the limestone. Today, the large temple windows are at ground level, and they were part of the gates of the church. Larger reddish stones surrounding the church may be Crusader fortifications dating from the 12th century. Across the road are the partially obscured ruins of medieval houses and a church. These date from the 10th-12th centures, when this was the first seat of the Maronite Patriarch in Lebanon.

St. Maron Monastery and St. Peter and Paul Hermitage - Annaya
The Maronite St. Maron Monastery and St. Peter & Paul Hermitage, located east of Byblos in Annaya, is a famous pilgrimage site, because it is where the highly revered St. Charbel Makhlouf is entombed. St. Charbel lived in the Monastery for 16 years (1859-1875) before spending 23 years of isolation as a hermit in the St. Peter and Paul Hermitage, on a hill facing monastery. The first monastery on this site, built on top of old ruins, was completed in 1811. It became the St. Peter and Paul Hermitage in 1828, when the first part of the nearby St. Maron Monastery was completed. In 1974, a new church, on the western side of the monastery, was constructed in honor of St. Charbel. At the site, you can visit the first grave and the tomb of St. Charbel, a museum dedicated to the Saint, the monastery churches, and the hermitage. There is a small inn for pilgrims who come to the site to pray, as well as a bookshop, a small restaurant, and a large park. You can purchase Annaya wine, jams, grains, fruits, and vegetables that are produced from the monastery’s lands at monastery shop. The Monastery is located high in the mountains, at 1350 meters above sea level.

Wadi El Bawalih
Wadi El Bawalih is a beautiful valley located east of the village of Aamchit at an elevation of 600m. El Bawalih means “pothole” in Arabic, referring to the valley’s canyon shape. It is a very pleasant destination for hiking and climbing. There are two interesting rock-cut chapels located in the valley: the Chapel of St. Simon and the Monastery of St. Antonios, both dating from the 12th-13th centuries.

Zoo Zeder
A zoo where children can see small mammals, reptiles and birds. A bakery/restaurant is located on the premises and open on weekends. The Dutch owner will give tours.

Kesrwan
Bel Azur Resorts in Lebanon

Archaeological Valley of the Nahr El Kalb (Dog River)
Nahr El Kalb, known as the "Dog River," runs inland from the coast south of Jounieh. Visitors come to this area to see the inscriptions left by armies throughout the ages, from the cuneiform inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II to the Latin inscription of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius to the British-led Desert Mountain Corps. Consult a guidebook for a full listing of the inscriptions and their locations (they are catalogued by Roman numerals).

Arts & Renaissance
This studio offers courses in painting and drawing for children, teenagers, and adults. The studio also has a gallery and hosts exhibitions.


Athenee Theater
Theater

Bel Azur Beach Resort
This beach resort in Jounieh offers visitors a range of water activities including parasailing, water skiing, renting jet skis and boats, and taking scuba diving lessons from affiliated organizations.

Botanus
Botanus is an animal farm with many animals including kangaroos and monkeys.

Cathedral of St. Paul (Greek Catholic)
Built between 1947 and 1962 in the pure Byzantine style, the cathedral houses several intricate paintings, and its walls are covered with beautiful mosaics depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary wearing a medallion, the Communion of the Apostles, the church fathers, and scenes from the Bible. Located near the cathedral is the monastery of the Greek Catholic Missionaries of St Paul, founded in 1903. The cathedral is within walking distance of the statue of Notre Dame du Liban, at Harissa. There are about 20 churches and monasteries of different denominations in the area.

Chateau Musar Winery
The Chateau Musar Winery was established in 1930 by Gaston Hochar and is still a family-run business. It is one of the oldest and most famous wineries in Lebanon. The vineyards are located in the Bekaa Valley, but the winery and cellar are housed in an 18th century castle in Ghazir, north of Jounieh. Chateau Musar exports more than 90 percent of its annual production. Contact the winery at least one day in advance to arrange for a tour.

Convent of Our Lady of Bzoummar (Armenian Catholic)
The Convent of Our Lady of Bzoummar was built in 1749, and it is the patriarchal chair for the Armenian Catholic Church in Lebanon. It has a large, multilanguage library composed of more than 45,000 books and 1,500 manuscripts, considered the largest Armenian library in the Middle East. One remarkable manuscript is the first letter written by St. Peter the Apostle in Greek on papyrus paper. The chapel contains a famous painting of Our Lady of Sorrows (Notre Dame des Douleurs), which is attributed to the painter Rafael Sanzio (1483-1521). The convent also has a museum and a cellar for wine and olive oil making.

Convent of the Lady of Bkerke (Maronite)
The Convent of the Lady of Bkerke has been the winter residence of Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch since 1830, when it replaced Deir Qannoubine as the patriarchal see. The beautiful white stone, red-roofed residence, set among pine trees, was constructed in 1893 around an earlier monastery from 1703. Above the Italianate entrance is the Patriachal coat-of-arms with Arabic, Syriac, and Latin inscriptions of an Old Testament quotation: “The glory of Lebanon has been given to Him.” Visitors are welcome to visit the courtyard, the reception hall where the Patriarch holds audiences, the portrait gallery, and the church, which is famous for its columns of fossilized stone. The residence is also known for its rich library. Bkerke is located at 200 meters elevation, below the summit of Harissa, with a beautiful view of the Bay of Jounieh.

Dream Park
An extensive open-air amusement park featuring rides for all ages.

Faqra Club-Kfar Dibiane Ski Resort
One of the world’s first private ski resorts, the slopes of the Faqra Club are generally open only to chalet-owning members (and their guests) or to those staying at the L’Auberge de Faqra. The club offers access to tourists and non-members at “off-peak” times. There are ski slopes at 1700-2000 meters for all levels of ability, several lifts, an international slalom track, and cross country skiing. You can rent ski equipment at the club, or at one of the local shops near Faraya Mzaar-Kfar Dibiane. Other facilities include restaurants, a heated swimming pool, sauna, squash, tennis courts and fitness club. The club is also a popular summer destination, with all kinds of outdoor activities.

Faraya Mzaar-Kfar Dibiane Ski Resort
With a network of 17 slopes catering to all levels, Faraya Mzaar-Kfar Dibiane (1,850m to 2,465m) is Lebanon’s largest and best equipped ski resort. In the evening, it is also the high-altitude extension of Beirut’s hip, party scene. Located in the southern region of the Mount Lebanon range, along the northwestern slopes of Jebel Sannine, Faraya Mzaar-Kfar Dibiane is popular with skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, and cross country skiers alike. While the six advanced slopes can be crowded on weekends, advanced skiiers can hire a guide to explore the back-country slopes. Faraya Mzaar-Kfar Dibiane is also a popular destination for winter paragliding. The luxurious Intercontinental Mountain Resorts Hotel and Spa-Mzaar offers direct access to the slopes, but there are many other hotels and chalets in the region. Ski equipment can be rented from many shops in the area. The resort also offers summertime activities, including hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and tennis.

George V Theater
Theater

Grotto of Jeita
The Jeita Grotto is the largest cave in Lebanon (9,050m long). First discovered in 1836, the cave serves as the source of the Nahr Al Kalb (Dog River). Jeita is composed of an upper and a lower cavern. A cable car ride takes visitors to the entrance of the upper cavern, which is open for walking tours year round and has impressive stalactites and stalagmites.. A small train takes visitors to the lower cavern, where you can tour the underground lake by boat in spring, summer, and fall. There is also a sound and light show in the caverns.

Ice Skating Arena
An olympic-size ice skating rink open to the public. Public skating sessions, figure skating lessons, ice hockey teams, and birthday party packages are offered.

Jisr El Hajar (Natural Bridge)
Jisr El Hajar is an impressive natural limestone bridge situated on the outskirts of Faqra and about 3km from Faraya. The bridge is 34 meters long and 15 meters high, and spans the Nahr Al Laban river. Although it is so smoothly carved that it seems to have been manmade, it was in fact carved over the centuries by wind and water. It is one of the most popular places for rock climbers in Lebanon. The surrounding area is excellent for hiking and camping.

Notre Dame du Liban: Saydet Loubnan
Erected in 1908, the gigantic bronze statue of the Virgin Mary was inaugurated by the Maronite Patriarch Hoayek to mark the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Conception Doctrine. There is a chapel at the base of the statue and a spiral staircase leading to the top. Below the 8.5m statue are churches of several denominations. Pope John Paul II visited the shrine in May 1997. The statue is located at Harissa, on a mountain summit 600 meters above the bay of Jounieh, and it offers a beautiful panoramic view of the coastline. A cable car (telepherique) can be taken up the mountain from Jounieh to reach the shrine.

Pony Club St. Rock
A park for children that has a garden with slides and swings, and a farm with ponies and donkeys.

Rimal Beach Resort
The resort has a large sandy beach where many sports activities and parties are held. Scuba diving lessons and other water activities can also be booked here.

Rio Lento
Rio Lento is a water park with numerous waterslides and pools, as well as a nightclub. Birthday parties and other parties can be arranged. The park also offers basketball and tennis courts, and a dry playground area for children. 

Source http://www.lebanon-tourism.gov.lb

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