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Building in Ballouneh

Building in Ballouneh

About Lebanon


Zahle is known as the bride of the Beqaa, and is much appreciated for its healthy climate, red-roofed houses and its good food. It is considered as the capital of the Beqaa, and is the seat of government for the Beqaa. All amenities are available here, with hotels, good shopping and souvenir shops. Zahle's many beautiful old houses can be appreciated on a leisurely walk around the town.

The main attraction, however, is the Bardaouni River, which flows out of Mount Sannine through a wooded gorge shut in between tall perpendicular rocks, down to Zahle. Along this branch of the Litani River there is one open air restaurant after another. All are protected from the sun by awnings and leafy trees, while streams, fountains and pools cool the air. To get to this area you drive right through the town.
Zahle is home of the Mezza and of Arak (Lebanese traditional alcoholic drink) and it lies at the heart of an area that has been making wine since early antiquity.

In this pleasant spot one can enjoy a typical Lebanese pastime: the long leisurely lunch. The Bardaouni is just as popular in the evenings where dinners can become quite festive. In Winter, most of the riverside restaurants are only open on weekends. A walk in the hills overlooking Zahle, leads you to Iron and Bronze Age towns. In Wadi El Arayesh are Byzantine and Roman sarcophagi.

Festivals and Events
Every year between the 10th and 20th of September, Zahle holds the "Festival of the Vine" , during which "Miss Vine" is elected and cars are decorated with flowers representing national symbols.
Zahle is also famous for its Corpus-Christi festival which dates back to 1825 when the town was spared the ravages of a contagious disease. Corpus-Christi is celebrated on the first Thursday of June with a torch-light parade held on the eve of the festival.
Zahle styles itself as "The City of Wine and Poetry". More than 50 poets and writers were born in the city contributing to Lebanon's cultural and political scene.

Amongst the city's attractions:

Old Houses
The several hundred year old houses are a must see in Zahle. They are private houses with fasinating architecture. Examples of such houses are the Geha, Youssef Azar and Wadih Skaf house, which are designed with arcades and walled gardens.

The Serail is the restored government house located in the old part of town and dating from 1885. The building's architecture reflects the European and Arab influences of the Ottoman period.

Souk al-Blatt (Tiled Market)
A market street leading to one of the oldest parts of the city. A large part of Zahle's history was written in this souk, where in former times travelers to and from Syria, Baghdad and Palestine bought and sold their goods. A project is planned to restore the street and make it a center for crafts and other traditional activities.

Housh El-Zarani
Housh El-Zarani is located near the post office on the east side of the river. In past centuries this housh, or market area, was a conglomerate of khans (caravansaries), craft center and shops. Here shoemakers, woodworkers weavers, copper workers and saddle makers plied their trades. It was also an important commercial center where vendors sold agricultural and industrial products.
Many of the old buildings, embellished by carved ceilings, vaulted interiors and decorated fašades, still stand. Today these structures are somewhat obscured by modern shop fronts, but projects are afoot to restore the area. In the meantime you can still discover a taste of old Zahle here.


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