Explore / Batroun and its Suburbs

The district of Batroun extends between Jbeil and Tripoli along the coast, and into the heart of Mount Lebanon. The landscape is appealing, and there are many touristic landmarks (Batroun, el Mseilha, Smar Jbeil, Duma, and Tannourine).



Batroun

It lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is well known for its famous lemonade. Its streets are charming as they combine between the old houses, the gardens, the ancient churches and the archaeological landmarks.

 

How to get to Batroun?

It is at 54 kilometres north of Beirut. It can be reached by taking the highway (from Batroun exit toward the city center), or by taking the old road along the sea-shore.

 

Historical Background

It has been known since the antiquity. For Phoenicians, it was 'Betrouna'. During the Greek-Roman era, it was called "Botrys" (bunch of grapes). In the Syriac language it is "Beit Trouna". It was mentioned in the fourteenth century B.C. on the famous tablets which were found in “Tell el Aamarna” as part of the province of Jbeil. It was invaded by the Assyrians in the 7th century B.C. King Antochus the Great invaded it in 195 B.C. During the Roman period, it was famous for its neighbouring orchards.

In 551, it was devastated by a violent earthquake, and during the Crusaders period it was joined to the province of Tripoli.

In the north-eastern part of the city there are the remains of seven seats inlaid in an ancient graded rock inside a private royal garden. The construction of this edifice was not completed (It started around 222 B.C. during the reign of the Roman emperor Eiloaobal). This place is known as Mrah el Sheikh. Few steps from this place, there are inscribed ornamentation on a vault of a door very similar to that found in Mar Jerges Church inside the ancient city.

Near the small fishing harbour, there is the façade of the Maronite Church of Mar Stephan (St. Stephan). It was built by an Italian architect between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It can receive more than one thousand believers, which makes it one of the largest churches in Lebanon. In the city centre there are stones and remains of a fortress that dates back to the Crusaders period. A visit to the old city takes you to the Orthodox Church of Mar Jerges (St. George Church). Its construction was completed in 1867. In the city centre there are remains of stones that belong to a fortress that dates back to the Crusader period. It was destroyed by the Egyptian Sultan, Qalawun at the end of the third century. Near the ancient fortress there is the Maronite church, Saydet al Saha (Our Lady of the Square). It dates back to 1898. Along the coast, there is the famous Phoenician Wall, which is 225 meters long. In ancient times (end of the 2nd century and beginning of the third century B.C.), it was a quarry. This site witnessed golden times during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. There is also the Orthodox Church Saydet Al Bihar (Our Lady of the Seas), which overlooks the sea. It contains beautiful icons of unknown origin. Its terrace is built under the arches of the Phoenician Wall.

South of the city there is a public beach where you can find a small rock in the water called Maqaad el Mir (Seat of the Prince).



Qalaat el Msailha

It is at three kilometres from Batroun heading towards Tripoli. A visitor can reach it by turning to the right before the tunnel of Chekka and crossing a small bridge over Nahr el Jawz (a river that dries in summer). It can also be reached by crossing a narrow passage engraved in the rocks. This small fortress that stands proudly on a mountain peak is a very strategic location that has been preserved for a long time. Its picture was printed on the 25 Lebanese pound denomination. The road to Tripoli used to curve around the huge Ras el Chakka. Its origin is not known, and some historians say that it dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Others say it dates back to the Mamluk era. Still, others think that it is one of the accomplishments of Emir Fakhreddine (17th century). After climbing the stairs, the visitor reaches a flat area where the arched narrow entrance lies. After the parlour, there is a central hall that comprises passageways to different parts of the tower. The walls are one meter and a half to two meters thick. Some of its parts that are dark and dangerous haven't been renewed yet.



Smar Jbeil

It is at 49 kilometres from Beirut and 475 meters above sea level. The visitor reaches it by taking the road to Rachana (there is a museum in the open air. The carvings are made by the three Lebanese brothers: Michael, Alfred and Youssef Basbous). In the city centre, there is Mar Nahra Church (Nahra means light in Syriac). It was partly built of stones taken from a Roman temple that dates back to the Ancient and Middle ages. It has an inner flight of stairs that leads to the roof, a style that is popular in Lebanese architecture. Its northern entrance is decorated with a chain of stones similar to that found in Hammam al-Jadid in Tripoli. Behind the church there are remains of the old Saydeh church, which comprises one chapel and a small portico. In one of the walls, ancient stones can be seen. As for the Crusader castle of Smar Jbeil, a part of its foundations is dug in the rocks, and it overlooks the town. It is a square castle. Its main tower as well as the other square towers and vaults are similar to those in the castle of Jbeil. It dates back to the first generation of towers (the beginning of the 12th century).

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