The capital of the Liban-Nord province and Lebanon's second largest city, Tripoli is perhaps the most Middle Eastern city in this Mediterranean country. A predominently Sunni population lives in the two-part city, Al Mina, the port of Tripoli, and actual Tripoli, set further inland. Little of the ancient Tripolis remains, but the old city is dominated by the impressive Crusader Castle of Saint Gilles, and contains shining examples of Islamic architecture from the 13th - 16th centuries. The souk in the old city, with its narrow labyrithine alleys, numerous domes and muqarnas decorated portals, stands as it has for many centuries. Scents of perfumed soap and exotic spices fill every meandering alley. A visit to Tripoli is a must to discover yet another aspect of Lebanon's multi-layered heritage. For more, check out the Tripoli travel page.
On the way to Tripoli from Beirut, off the main motorway in a green plain surrounded by wooded hills lies the abandoned castle of Moussaylha. It was built in 1624 by the rebellious Emir Fakhreddine to protect the north-south road. The fort's site on a protruding rock along the road was quite strategic and is thought to have been used to protect the road for centuries. Although there may have been a castle or another structure on the site previously, archeologists are certain that the existing fortress is entirely from the 17th century construction. The relatively small castle is quite striking as it appears to have been carved out of the rock, and from one angle the castle blends in with the mountain behind. If you are travelling by car from Beirut to Tripoli, then it is definitely worth stopping for a quick look at this castle and its picturesque surroundings. It is located a few kilometres past the town of Batroun, about 40 minutes north of Beirut, or 20 minutes south of Tripoli. However, due to its position east of the motorway, it is best seen when driving from Beirut to Tripoli.
One of many deep gorges cutting through the Lebanon Mountain range into the Mediterranean, Qadisha Valley is known to be the most picturesque. It is located in the Liban-Nord province (northern Lebanon) and runs from Les Cèdres (El Arz) at over 2000 metres all the way down the coast, with snow-capped mountains surrounding it much of the year. For thousands of years, the isolation of the valley made it a natural refuge for persecuted minorities, but since the 5th century AD, it has been almost exclusively a Maronite Christian stronghold. Maronites, who are the largest Christian sect in Lebanon, fled the Syrian plains in the 5th century, where they had been heavily persecuted by the Romans (Byzantines), to hide in Qadisha Valley and other gorges in Mount Lebanon. The valley is therefore dotted with numerous ancient monasteries, while Maronite villages command views from the cliffs above. Qadisha Valley is also said to contain an excellent hiking trail that passes by cave churches and waterfalls. In 1998, the valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A good way to see Qadisha Valley to drive to Bcharré and/or Les Cèdres (El Arz) along a winding steep road.
Located in Ras Chekka 50 km north of Beirut, the Greek Orthodox monastery of Deir Nouriyeh is built on the edge of a 200 metre cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Ras Chekka is a limestone promontory that contains a forest of olive and oak trees and is important for bird migration routes. Although it dates back to the 6th century AD, the monastery of Deir Nouriyeh we see today was built in mediaeval times and restored in recent years. It is also thought to have been built over a pagan temple. Right below the monastery, on the side of a cliff, is a tiny ancient monastery and a cave chapel that date from the 4th century AD. Legend has it, the Virgin Mary appeared during a rough storm to a group travelling by sea near this site. When they were saved, they decided to build this chapel and monastery to commemorate the event. This monastery and the chapel below are really "off the beaten track", but make a very pleasant a stop for those with more time and private transportation.
Located at 2000 metres above sea level, but only 45 minutes by car from the coast, Les Cèdres, or El Arz in Arabic, is a small village a short distance above Bcharré. The village is famous for being the highest ski resort in Lebanon and also for containing one of the few surviving cedar groves. The ski resort is not Lebanon's fanciest, but is the country's oldest and is said to contain the best snow, being the highest. For non-skiers, the attraction is seeing the Cedars of Lebanon. These majestic trees, which originate in these mountains and are the symbol of the country, once covered its entire mountain range. However, cedar wood had been highly valued since antiquity (in fact, Pharaonic monuments of ancient Egypt, such as the pyramids of Saqqara, still contain surviving cedar wood from Lebanon). This has resulted in the gradual deforestation of the mountains and degradation of the soil so that these very slow-growing cedars could grow no longer. The few cedar groves that have survived are thus highly protected by the Lebanese and have earned the name "Cedars of the Lord".
Bcharré lies at the top of Qadisha Valley in the Northern Lebanese mountains. It is a beautiful Christian Maronite town with breathtaking views of the snowy mountains above and the green valley below. Bcharré is famous for being the birthplace of Khalil Gibran, to whom a museum is dedicated. It also lies just below el Arz (les Cèdres), the ski village next to the protected cedar forest of Mont Liban.
First Published In: 1994.
For Gibran, no single religious tradition revealed the truth, so he wove together insights from Eastern Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, American Transcendentalism and folklore from his native Lebanon. This is a collection of 24 meditations, essays and prose poems on the spiritual life.
First Published In: 1918.
Thought-provoking collection of life-affirming parables and poems by Gibran Khalil Gibran, many casting an ironic light on the beliefs, aspirations, and vanities of humankind. "How I Became a Madman," "The Two Hermits," "The Wise Dog," "The Good God and the Evil God," "Night and the Madman," many more. 3 exquisite illustrations by the author.
*In 1918 Gibran started writing a book entitled My Island Man based on his 1899 work. By the time it was released in 1923 it's name had changed to The Prophet - the book familiar to so many people today.
*The Prophet began life as an Arabic work written in 1899 with the Prophet imparting his wisdom to customers in an inn.
*After Shakespeare and Loa Tze he was the best selling poet of the 20th century.
*Elvis Presley was a big fan and gave away thousands of copies of The Prophet.
*During the 20th Century The Prophet was America's second best selling book, beaten only by The Bible.
The furniture, his notebooks, his personal library and the exhibited objects and paintings were all in Gibran's apartment in New York.
Rare are the paintings that Gibran dated, signed or titled. He used to say: "visions cannot be titled". And to those who wondered why he didn't sign his paintings, he replied "wherever they might be found, my paintings shall be known as mine." Moreover, we respected the titles Gibran gave to some of his paintings.
Using Gibran's furnishings his room in New York is reproduced in the
Gibran Museum in his hometown of Bsharri, Lebanon
There is not much choice of good quality hotels in Tripoli, so the Quality Inn it had to be. It was...more
Cedars Main Road, Bcharre, Lebanon
Good for: Couples