Bahdidat, a small village located at 550m above sea level north of Byblos. Here an old Maronite chapel rectangular, dedicated to St. Theodore, contains beautiful murals. The apse is covered over the entire height of the wall which told the story of salvation in two stages according to the Old and New Testament. The relative part to the Old Testament occupies the bow hanger, while the lower arch and apse depict scenes from the New Testament.
2- The Church of Saint Simeon-Mar Simaan
To the east of Byblos, on a small hill, you can see an old chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and which is designated in the region Mar Semaan. At the center of this chapel, built by the Crusaders, stands a huge trunk marble column, which obviously does not come from an ordinary Roman temple. This column is probably a Stylite who lived there.
In fact the square chapel, built by the Crusaders and surmounted by a dome more supported by the sides, is intended to highlight the column of the Stylite.
3- The Chapel Saydet Elige -Mayfouk
Between blue and green landscape sun-drenched hills just a few of Byblos, the village is home to an old church Mayfouk known Saydet Elige, name formerly given to the same locality, On simple architecture with its old stones arranged a little rough, his doors arches and old shuttered windows, this church was restored in 1747 seems to date from the 13th century. An inscription in Syriac is engraved on one of its walls, and it is said she was also, in time, the seat of the Maronite patriarchs.
4- The Chapel of Mar Semaan - Abaydât
Around Jbeil, a crossroad of Abaydât one crosses, carved into the rock, between bushes and rubble overgrown with weeds, the rock chapel Mar Semaan commonly known as the Cave of Saint Simeon. Rough stone facade and reduced to their simplest expression openings remain poorly murals dating from the 12th century to decorate and demonstrate a marked sacred art of great piety. There are, by the representation of Christ Pantocrator seated on his throne between the Virgin and Saint Jean Baptiste and two seraphim with wings. An inscription in Syriac calligraphy enhances all widely consumed by erosion.
5- The Cathedral Saint-John Marc - Byblos
Not far from the sea, protected by an oasis of greenery and a few old houses, close to the souk of Byblos, stands the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist commonly known today by Saint Jean Marc. The majority of studies on this cathedral suggests that the construction of the church began in the year 1115, on the baptistery, he could go back to the late 12th or early 13th century. The part of the building currently used sacristy is probably more recent (late 18th century). Built therefore initially at the time of the Crusaders, it was given in the 18th century the monks of the Lebanese Maronite Order by Emir Youssef Chehab. Composed mainly of three naves and three apses, the Romanesque church reflect local and Byzantine architecture.
Repeatedly achieving various damage to the upheavals of nature and acts of war, however, she kept a neat square with its covered in jagged stone arches and domes appearance, ornate tower columns, the large paved courtyard and wrought iron fence dating from 1989.
6- The Monastery of Mar Maroun Annaya:
Hermitage and Burial of Saint Charbel
In the peaceful green of Annaya rests the remains of the saint Lebanese Mar Charbel. Born May 8, 1828 at Bqa'aqafra, one of the highest villages in the Cedars region, Mar Charbel is now an object of worship and life a supreme example of hard work and absolute devotion to God. Moreover, from an early age he was nicknamed "the holy" because of his great piety. In 1875, he retired to the hermitage overlooking the valley Ehmej was later transformed into a fervent pilgrimage, one of the busiest in the country. He lived there in the greatest austerity, 23 years until his death December 24, 1898 while celebrating Christmas mass at the age of 70. Beatified in 1965, he was canonized in October 1977.
The monastery of Mar Maroun Annaya simple, squat building, with its statue of Saint Charbel arm raised to the sky in the outdoor courtyard with a wrought iron fence, a small church constantly illuminated by the prayers and wishes of believers, its small museum objects with a total frugality that belonged to Saint, all contribute to a unique atmosphere that the faithful find themselves in the tranquility of a bathed by the grace of God landscape.
7- Convent of St. Elie - Lehfed
Lehfed is a village located 62 km from Beirut at an altitude of 1000 m. it contains an archaeological Maronite monastery dedicated to St. Elias. This monastery was the seat of the Patriarch John VI Lehfed between 1251 and 1254.
8- Churches of Aqoura
The village Aqoura contains nearly 44 churches, convents and monasteries, the most important are: St. George's Church, Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, St. Jacob's Church and Church of St. Simon. Most of these monuments date from the Middle Ages.
9- Convent Saints Sarkis and Bakhos - Qartaba
The convent dates back to 1536 when the children of Sheikh Gerges have migrated to Aqoura Qartaba, taking with them an image of the holy martyrs Sarkis and Bakhos and building a church that was dedicated to them in cooperation with the inhabitants of this village. However it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1711. in 1815, the inhabitants of Qarataba donated - through an act - the church and its dependencies as "pious legacies and eternal prison" in favor of the Lebanese Order so that it build an adjacent school. Thus the Order he founded a school and bought the neighboring land to expand the building, and the convent was enlarged it in 1823. The monks continued to serve the people of Qartaba accordance with their monastic values, the most famous being P. Daniel Al-Aalam Al-Hadathi (1884) and P. Al-Youssef Abi Ghosn Jbeily (1934), both of whom died in the odor of piety and virtue.
10- Mar Gerges "Blue" and Notre Dame Yanouh
A 80 klm Beyrotuh and at an altitude of 110 m between two mountain villages and Qartaba Aqoura is Yanouh (in Aramaic oasis of peace and tranquility). This ancient archaeological village has seen spent on his land several civilizations (Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Maronite). There remains today a temple on the edge of the highway turned into two churches: Notre Dame and Saint George "Blue."
1) Church of Saint George "Blue"
It dates from the Byzantine era and was so named due to its bluish color stones. It contains cross two horns and four arms (the oldest and most widespread in northern Syria formed during the early Christian era) in reference to the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ (divine and human), or two virtues (the Word or the Holy Spirit), or the two powers (the archangel Michael and Gabriel that accompany the souls of the dead).
2) Our Lady of Yanouh: The Maronite patriarchs (between the 10th and 13th centuries, before and under the Crusaders) took the seat Yanouh temples and used the stones to build a church (with the same dimensions as the church Saint Georges "Blue") dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This church has input, a semi-circular arc and porticoes and is decorated with crosses and engravings.
1- Bkirke, residence of the Maronite Patriarch
On a hill that overlooks the Bay of Jounieh, which is surrounded by pine trees, stands the imposing structure of the Maronite patriarchy which has been there since 1830.
At the beginning it was a simple monastery built in 1703.
It was enlarged in 1893. On the entrance there is a triple inscription in Syriac, Latin and Arabic. “The glory of Lebanon is given to him” from Isaiah 2:35. The building is white in color; the roof is covered with red bricks; the sound of the bell is echoed in the surrounding valleys; the windows are blue with arches; the stair is majestic; the outside court in wide. Inside, there is spacious saloon which contains a library rich with valuable manuscripts. There is a solemn silence which makes the Maronite patriarchy, a crown on the head of the Bay.
2- The Cathedral of our Lady of Lebanon – Harissa
On a hill that reverently overlooks the Bay of Jounieh and contemplates Beirut and the vast horizon stands the sanctuary of our Lady of Lebanon. It’s a place that shines with devotion to Saint Mary. Believers constructed this place to worship the Virgin Mother, our Lady of Lebanon. The statue of Saint Mary stands at the top of the structure. It is a white statue that touches the blue sky and is surrounded by roaming clouds. It has been here since 1908, resting on a cement foundation. The statue is reached by means of a spiral flight of stairs. Inside there is a small church where to thousands of believers come to pray and to hold marriage ceremonies.
The number of people is doubled in May, the month dedicated to Virgin Mary. Beside the ancient sanctuary, there is a modern, cathedral in which Pope John Paul II celebrated mass on his visit to Lebanon (Saturday May 10, 1997).
3- Cathedral of Saint Paul – Harissa
It is one of a number of places of worship found in Harissa. Near the sanctuary of our Lady of Lebanon there is the Monastery of the Catholic Missionaries of Saint Paul. (They founded their congregation in 1903).
Inside the monastery there is a church that has beauty of architecture. It roof has a semi-cupola. Inside the church there is mosaic of the Byzantine style on a golden background that represents the image of the Christ, the Apostles, Saint Mary carrying Jesus the Infant, fathers of the church and episodes from the Old and New Testaments.
4- Monastery of our Lady of Deliverance – el-cherfeh, Daroun , Harissa
In 1754, the sheikhs sold a piece of land to the priest Youssef Maroun el-Traboulsi provided that he builds a school to teach the principles of the Syriac and Arabic languages and the basics of the religion: the priest built the Monastery of our Lady of Deliverance in 1757 upon the terrace of the town of Daroun. That is why it is called the Monastery of the Terrace”.
In 1783, the patriarch of the Syriac catholics, Ignatios Mikhail Gerweh el-Halabi, arrived to Lebanon, escaping his persecutors in Bagdad.
He took refuge in this monastery. Later on, he bought it and named it the Monastery of the Chair.
The monastery began to enlarge. A clerical school was inaugurated in it in 1964. Today, it contains a library hosting manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages and letters exchanged between the Superior fathers in the monastery and the Holy See, the patriarchs, the princes, the ambassadors and councils. It also contains around thirty thousand books related to religion, history, geography, liturgy in Arabic, Syriac, Turkish, Persian and Latin.
Some of them date back to the last two centuries.
The monastery lost around 18 manuscripts which were chosen by father Agustin Chiasca upon his visit in 1880. He took them to the Vatican library upon the approval of Patriarch Gerges Chalhat. Foreign orientalists and travelers visited the monastery in order to study and gain knowledge. They organized a training session for the bishops. They also supplied the library with material to preserve it from decay.
5- The Monastery of Saint Anthony of Padua (Khashbao) – Ghazir
This monastery lies upon the hill of “Khashbao” that overlooks the Bay of Jounieh. “Khashbao” is a Syriac word that means a house for invocation and prayer. The Lebanese Maronite Order constructed it in 1752. In 1820, the church was built and was dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua. It is one of the most beautiful churches in the East.
It is 30m long, 15m wide and 19m high. The Lebanese Maronite Order restored it in 1977 with the aid of the General Directorate of Antiquities in Lebanon.
It was inhabited by the Armenian monks till 1890. Then the Capuchin monks came from France and stayed in it. They left it during the 2nd decade of the 20th century. It was deserted until 1985 when the Maronite Order renovated it adding a new aisle where it became an architectural piece of art.
In 1989 it became the property of the Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order.
In 1837, the Polish poet, Julius Souatski visited the place and stayed there for a few days where he wrote his poetic masterpiece “Anheli”. In 1946 the Polish community commemorated him with a marble plaque put on the entrance of the monastery.
In 2000, the committee of the Odessy placed another commemorative plaque on the entrance of the room where he lived in and organized a great poetic ceremony in the courtyard of the monastery.
6- The Monastery of our Saviour – Sarba
It dates back to 1884 and is constructed (according to the byzantine monastic architecture) over the ruins of the Phoenician castle of Sarba. In its foundation, there are huge stones (some of them are three or four meters similar to those used in the castle of Faqra). On the stones there are sculptures representing the sun, the head of a sacred calf and ancient inscriptions as well as a statue of Jupiter. Ernest Renan discovered them near the tomb of a princess and sent them to the Louvre Museum in Paris.
It is inhabited by the Halabite monks, and it houses a church decorated with mural paintings and icons for the Greek Catholics. It is one of their most beautiful monasteries.
7- Monastery of our Saviour (Trappist Order) – Dlebta
It was built in 1737 when the Lebanese Council issued a decision to separate the monks and nuns and build for each a monastery to live in. The monks lived there for 30 years, and then left it before completing its construction. During the 19th century it was used for different purposes before it became a religious court for the Maronite church. The Latin trappist Order (the contemplators) became responsible of the monastery. The monks renovated it and added various elements to the building, aisles to receive pilgrims and visitors as well as a sawmill and a furnace. The trappist Fathers are famous for producing wine and dairy as well as jam, olive oil, honey and other products.
8- The monastery and church of Christ the King – Zouk Mosbeh
In 1895, Brother Yaacoub (Jacob) Haddad (from the Latin Capacin Order) was passing in front of the rocks of Nahr el Kalb on his way to pronounce his monastic vows, where he saw the historical inscriptions on the rocks. He said, “Christ must have a record in this place, more important than the written and engraved remains”. Later, he bought from the Halabite monks of the monastery of Louizeh (called the Mariamites later) a piece of land (300 thousand m2) on the hill called “Ruins of the kings” facing the Monastery of Saint Joseph Al-Bourj (and belongs to the Lebanese Maronite Order). He built a church and inaugurated it on Sunday 23/10/1951.
Then he asked the Italian artist, Renato Betelia to make a statue which was elevated on the last Sunday of October 1952. Near the monastery there is a small cave which the workers discovered. Father Yaaqoub turned it into a sanctuary for Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
9- Deir el-Saydet (our Lady of Bzommar) – Bzommar
In the history of Armenia, the monasteries were usually the only refuge for its exiled people and a depository for its national heritage. The monastery of our Lady of Bzommar is the only Armenian monastery in the Arab world after the Monastery of Jerusalem. It is 30 km from Beirut and rises 930m alone sea level.
It is located in the midst of a green hill that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The structure is white in color and the roof is of red bricks. The halls are spacious with Gothic vaults. This makes the place ideal for prayer and study.
This monastery was a pagan temple. Its priests used to blow the horn once every year to call the villagers in order to gather, celebrate and hold ceremonies.
In 1749, patriarch Abraham Peter the first Aydzivian made it a seat for his patriarchy. The succeeding patriarchs went on enlarging the monastery. In the church of the monastery, there is an image of the miraculous Lady of Sorrows, attributed to either the artist Raphael Sanzio (1483-1521) or to Guerairo Barbieri (1591-1666). Our Lady of Bzommar is worshiped in Lebanon and in other places in the world and many miracles were attributed to her.
In the monastery there are relics from the Holy Land of Armenia (the knuble of Saint Gregory and other sacerdotal objects). There are also Armenian manuscripts embellished with rare miniatures and a library rich in oriental and occidental volumes covering different fields of human knowledge, archives that could shed much light on certain aspects of the history of the Middle East in general and Lebanon in particular.
10- Monastry of Saint John Al-Sabegh – Khenshara- Matn
It carries different nominations: The monastery of el-Shoeir because it is located near the village el-Shoueir; the Monastery of Saint John el-Tabchi it is near the village Tabchi; the monastery of Saint John Al-Sayegh after the family name of Father John who served it; the Monastery of Saint John Al-Sabegh (referring to Saint John the Baptist). Its construction was completed in 1650. It lies in a calm oasis of rocks on an inclination of a mountain between the towns of Btighrine and Shoueir.
It houses three churches. Two of them have iconostasis. The third lies in an arched cave. It is a distinctive mark among the monasteries of the region for it has been the cradle of the Choueirite Catholic Order since 1710. It is the starting point of the Arabic letter in Lebanon and the region (by virtue of the Deacon Abdallah Al-Zakher in 1734 and is kept there until today)
The monastery housed the first elementary school in the region in 1735, and hosted the first important historic council for the Catholics (a continuation to the council held in the Monastery of prophet Isaiah). It contains sarcophagi and important archeological and historical vestiges which made it a hermitage for believers and tourists.
Some of these vestiges are:
- An ancient library that contains manuscripts dating back to the 10th century.
- Icons (around 89) distributed all over the monastery. Most important is the iconostasis in the church of Saint Nicolas. It is six meters and a half long 4.5m high. It contains statues and religious scenes from the old and New Testament. Among them, there are icons of Christ, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Nicolas, the Annunciation, and others.
11- The Monastery of our Lady of Deliverance – Bekfaya
In 1830, the Jesuit Fathers lived in the suburbs of Bikfaya upon the invitation of Emir Haidar Abillamaa, where they built a church on the ruins of a hermitage and decided to dedicate it to Saint Francis Regis.
On the inauguration day where the endorsement of the Saint’s paint (June 1833), the crowd cheered the name of Saint Mary. Father Remon Estev was surprised and he replaced the image of the saint with the image of our Lady of Deliverance (a beautiful copy of the work of the artist Sassaverats, conserved in Venice). Our Lady of Deliverance rose at a cry from the crowd.
During the events of 1840, our Lady of Deliverance showed miracles saving the inhabitants from his tyrannical actions of Ibrahim Basha.
The convent was restored several times and includes a magnificent church in which there is the painting of the Virgin Mary. The statue of the Virgin surmounts the cupola which has windows constructed according to the new Gothic architecture.
12- The Patriarchate of the Armenian Orthodox of Kilikia
The Patriarchate is located on the coast of Antelias. It’s an elegant, magnificent edifice that comprises a number of buildings making up this center of the Armenian spiritual values. It contains a museum (inaugurated in 30/3/1988) for the religious objects saved from the time of the Armenian Genocide. There is a church built according to the Armenian style, decorated with murals and holy images drawn by the artist Berberian.
The Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint George is located in Deir el-Harf in the midst of a pine forest that covers Ras el Matn Mountain. Its construction date is unknown but the available documents reveal that it dates back to the 18th century. It has a simple architectural style: an open courtyard and, near it, a church that gathers the Orthodox inhabitants of the village. The iconostasis is wooden and the church is decorated with a rare collection of icons while rare frescoes cover its walls and vaults.
2. The church of our Lady – Ras el-Matn
It was built by the Greek Orthodox community on the ruins of an ancient church in 1710. Damaged during the war in Lebanon, it was renovated, its icons restored and inaugurated in 2001.
3. The Monastery of Saint George – Souk el-Gharb
Located 23 km south-east of Beirut, this monastery is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Beirut. It is actually the summer residence of Archbishop of Beirut. Built in 1904 (under Archbishop Gerasimos Mesarrah), the monastery church is distinguished by its large rocky pillars surrounding its outer galleries and hallways and the rare icons and wooden carved iconostasis (from 1905).
On the left side of the church, there is an archeological monastery (from the early 20th century) that houses rocky, vaulted halls. The church was exposed to partial destruction during the war but was renovated later.
4. The church of Saydet el-Telleh (the church of our Lady of the Hill) Deir el-Qamar
At the heart of Deir el-Qamar, in the maze of old houses and narrow streets, a small staircase leads to the front of the church of El Saydet Tallé or Our Lady of the Hill which was constructed on the ruins of a Phoenician temple dedicated to Astarte. Extended, restored and rebuilt, the church is dedicated to the miraculous Virgin Mary and is one of the places most frequented pilgrimage in Lebanon. The first Sunday of August is celebrated lavishly in this church enclosed by buildings of the convent of monks.
5. The Monastery of our Savior – Joun
On a green spot next to Joun (where Lady Ester Astanhope lived) stands the Greek Catholic monastery of our Savior on a piece of land offered by the Cheikhs of the Joumblat family: a red tiled roof, a large building superimposed with a clock tower, with a fountain in an open court. Its church is a masterpiece. It contains rare manuscripts and a collection of precious icons and other objects used for worship.