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Explore / Kesrouan

It is both, a coastal and mountainous region north of Beirut. It can be reached by means of a highway. It is distinguished for its historic sites and for its location and beautiful natural scenery.

Nahr el Kalb "Dog River"

Beyond Nahr el Kalb tunnel, on a turning to the right, there are obelisks and inscriptions on the rocks near the seaside that predate the passage of invaders who passed by this place.

In order to commemorate their passing by this place and the achievements or victories that they had accomplished, they used to carve memorial stelae. Today there are seventeen stelae on the right side of the river. One of them is abraded. It dates back to Nebuchadnezzar II (604 – 569 B.C.). On it there is a writing that shows that the king gave orders to his men to engrave it in Wadi Brissa in Hermel, west of Bekaa.

Ramses II (1279 – 1213B.C.) engraved three stelea (5 – 14 – 16). One of them was completely destroyed (5) because it was used as a base for a statue that commemorated a French military campaign commanded by Napoleon III (1860 – 1861).

Stele 17 is one of the five stelae (6 – 7 – 8 – 13 – 15 – 17) which were dedicated to commemorate the military campaigns of the Assyrian kings. It is about Assarhaddoun (211 – 217B.C.). It predates on the rock what the third Legion had done. The two words: Maksimos and Antonios look quite clear. The two stelea 6 and 7 are greatly damaged. Stele 17 tells about the campaign of Esarhaddon against Egypt in 671B.C.. The inscriptions on it are in cuneiform.

On stelea 11 and 12, there are Greek writings. One of them is quite clear. It was written for Proclus, the Phoenician governor, during the reign of "Theodosius the Great" (388 – 395B.C.).

There is one stele in Arabic (2) which predates the construction or reconstruction of Nahr el Kalb Bridge by Alzaher Seifedine Barqouq. This bridge was destroyed more than once. Its present construction dates back to the era of Emir Bachir II (1809A.D.).

Stele 4 is in French and it predates the French occupation of Syria under the leadership of general Gouraud in 25 – 7 – 1920.

Stele 9 carries two inscriptions that date back to 1919 and 1930. The first one was written when the British occupied Damascus, Homs and Aleppo in October 1918. The second inscription refers to the same occasion pointing out to the military troops that came from Australia, New Zealand, India and France in addition to the Arab army under the leadership of King Hussein, the Shereef of Mecca.

On stele 10, there is writings in English about the occupation of the British and French troops of Beirut and Tripoli in 1918.

Two stelae have been added, the first one predates the withdrawal of the foreign troops from Lebanon in December 1946. The second one commemorates the French soldiers who died in the war (first it was in Mina el Hosn at the center of Beirut).

A new stele is also found now. It predates the liberation of South Lebanon (May 25).

Jeita Grotto

The two magnificent grottoes of Jeita lie in a beautiful green valley within cavities known to man since Paleolithic times (the Stone Age). A river flows underground and forms the source of Nahr el Kalb (the Dog River). Time and water have sculpted fascinating stone draperies and sculptures.

The lower gallery was opened for the public in October 1958. The tunnels and vaults of the upper gallery were opened in January, 1969.

The lower gallery was discovered by the American missionary, Reverend William Thomson, in 1837.

Between 1873 and 1874, two delegations were able to discover caverns that are 800 meters deep, and they later penetrated further 1060 meters inside the grotto. Between 1892 and 1940, new French, English and British delegations discovered an internal network at a depth of 1750 meters. In 1940 Lebanese explorers went deeper into the grotto and reached a depth that exceeded 6 kilometers. In 1958, Lebanese speleologists discovered the upper gallery which forms a network of 2130 meters.

The two galleries were closed during the war. They were renovated upon the initiative of the Minister of Tourism. The site was reopened in 1996.

The site opens every day from 9a.m. till 7p.m. and from 9a.m. till 6p.m. in spring and autumn (except on Mondays). In winter it opens from 9.a.m. till 5p.m. (except on Mondays). The site closes from January till the beginning of February.

Tel.: 09-220840(3)

www.jeitagrotto.com

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Regions of Kesrouan

Faqra

The ruins of Faqra are 1600 meters above sea level and they extend over a small plane that towers over a deep valley where water of Nabaa el Aasal and Nabaa el Laban flow. The site is distinguished for its fascinating natural beauty and for the rocks made of dolomite which form a forest that is carved in a natural manner. Ernest Renan in his book, A Mission to Phoenicia, considered the spot as the most charming one in the mountain.

 

Historical Background

Three myths trace back the building of Faqra to different historic periods that go back to the time of King Solomon (10th century B.C.), extending to the time of Ptolemy (2nd century B.C.), or even to an unknown period. There are two Greek inscriptions (the first one is engraved over the lintel of the main entrance of the great tower. The second is engraved on a stone at the right entrance of the tower). It is said that the construction of this landmark took place in the year 43B.C.. Greek writings found in Atar Gatis Temple point out that this temple was built in 49B.C.. There are no written or material proofs that enable as to pinpoint the exact date of the construction of this temple.

 

Faqra overlooks a huge square tower which was made of two stories which were probably roofed by a pyramid shaped roof. A stairway made of eighteen flights of steps leads to the main entrance that used to be tightly closed by means of twofold doors. Their remains are apparent today. At the entrance there are two separate stairways that meet in the first floor where there is a room closed by a massive door. The apertures that are found in the walls of the temple make it possible to take a look at the whole site. Owing to its location and architectural design, this tower played two roles: as a watchtower and as a treasury that has a religious significance. Probably it contained the treasure of the divinity of the sight.

 

Right in front of the main entrance, there is a huge square which was renovated in the forties. The Egyptian and Eastern influences are clear, for they can be seen on the garnished stones of the altar. The date of its construction is still debatable. It may be the same as that of the construction of the huge temple.

 

In the vicinity of this tower, Nicsos appears standing on a square base with a colonnade made of twelve columns that surround a huge stone roofed by a somehow round roof. On the eastern side of the huge stone there are drawings that show a half moon and other decorations that are difficult to discern.

The Nicsos is an altar with an Egyptian neck. Its style goes back to a tradition that preceded the Hellenistic influence on the East.

 

To the south of these ruins, there is a huge rectangular temple (34 x 14 meters) oriented the east to the west. Among the Lebanese temples this one is the best preserved. A colonnade made of a number of Corinthian columns leads to the main entrance of this religious landmark which constitutes three parts: the interior hall which is surrounded by a colonnade beside which there is an altar and a stairway that leads to the prominent column and the sanctum sanctorum. Most probably these two parts were covered with wood. The temple includes a main door and two side doors at the northern side.

Some of the walls of this temple are engraved in the rock. It was built according to an ancient Semitic architectural design which was well known in other sites in Lebanon and the Near East.

The small temple is distinguished for its enigmatic design (the temple of Atargatis). It is made up of two rooms and does not contain a colonnade. This temple is oriented from east to west and does not have a systematic design. On the walls of the interior room there is a niche. The place was changed during the Byzantine period. The interior room was turned into a place for baptism in a church that was built outside the temple. It was used as such until the seventh century A.D.

Around the temple of Atargatis there are tombs which were built according to different styles. There are tombs engraved in the rocks and burial vaults inside which there is more than one cell. There are also crosses following the Byzantine tradition on some of the tombs. It seems that they were used during the Christian period. Near the temple of Atargatis there are edifices that date back to the middle Ages.

The site opens daily except on Tuesdays from 9a.m. till sunset.

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There is the stone bridge 3, 5 kilometers from the historic ruins of Faqra. It is a magnificent natural bridge with a 35 meter vault. Its height is 58 meters. Under it flow the water of Nahr el Laban as it goes down the valley.

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