(48 km)

From Sofar, before the turnoff to Dahr el-Baidar, a road to the right takes you to the large town of Ain Dar (in the caza of Aley) then to Nabaa es-Safa, known for its springs, waterfalls and open-air restaurants. Further on is Ain Zhalta, with its thermal springs and pine forest.

The same road goes to Barouk, a pleasant summer town with abundant springs. The Cedars of Barouk, reached from either Moukhtara or Barouk village, are smaller and younger than those of Bsharreh, but extremely beautiful and well cared for.  

Above the grove at the summit of the mountain there is a panoramic view overlooking the Beqaa valley.


Nabaa es-Safa

Another cedar grove can be found on Mount Maaser above the picturesque village of Maaser esh-Shouf, reached via Deir el-Qamar, Bhamdoun or Moukhtara. Maaser, which means “presses” in Arabic, is known for its arak, an anise flavored grape alcohol. The mountain top here also has a spectacular view that extends over much of the Beqaa.

Together, the forest of Barouk, Maaser esh-Shouf and Ain Zhalta form a reserve of over two million cedar trees. More than 112 species of birds, 16 species of other trees and 24 species of wild mammals are also protected in this area, which accounts for five percent of Lebanon’s territory.

(Historical Town 35 km)

Deir Al-Qamar is unique in Lebanon, a town restored and maintained in a style many centuries old.Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Deir Al-Qamar not only preserves its grand feudal architecture, but its old stepped streets, walled gardens and picturesque corners as well.
Shortly after Emir Fakhreddine II came to power in 1590, a chronic water shortage in Baaqline forced him to move his capital to Deir Al-Qamar. There he ruled until his death in 1635. The town remained the residence of the governors of Lebanon until the 18th century, when Emir Bechir II Chehab moved the capital to Beiteddine.

The huge public square or midan, which was originally used for jousts and other equestrian contests, is surrounded by historic buildings. The large water fountain was added in the 19th century.
In the square itself is Fakhreddine’s Mosque, constructed in 1493 and restored in the 16th century by Emir Fakhreddine I Maan for his Muslim mercenary soldiers. Behind the mosque is a 19th century leather-worker’s Souk or market, which today houses modern shops.
Beyond the souk is the Palace of Emir Younes Maan. Emir Younes, the brother of Emir Fakhreddine II, was army commander during Fakhreddine’s voluntary exile to Italy in 1613. Later, Emir Yousef Chehab (1770 - 1789) demolished the third story and used the stones to build his own residence, now the Serail or Municipal Palace.
The Silk Khan or Qaissariyyeh, located north of the Emir Yousef Chehab Serail, was built in 1595 during the reign of Fakhreddine II. 

It was designed in the classical Khan or caravansary style, and originally used as a public market place for jewellery and for silk. Today the khan makes a unique setting for cultural activities.
Nearby is the synagogue, which was built in the 17th century to serve the local Jewish population, some of whom were part of the immediate entourage of Emir Fakhreddine II..

The Kharj Barracks is a massive structure built by Fakhreddine II in 1616 as a munitions warehouse and barracks. It was remodelled under Bechir III Chehab (1840 - 1842) and became a food storehouse, mainly for soldiers. Now restored, this monument is the stunning setting of the French Cultural Center.

The Palace of Emir Ahmad Chehab (George Baz Palace), located east of the midan, was built by the Emir for his wife in 1755. After Emir Ahmad’s death, his widow sold it to George Baz, an important political figure of the time.

The architecture of this two-story structure is the khan type, featuring a central courtyard and basin. Around the courtyard are bedrooms, apartments and baths. The impressive portal is made of alternating stones of different colors.

The Serail of Emir Fakhreddine II Maan (now the Emile Baz Palace) located behind the souks, was built with a central courtyard that opens onto rooms, apartments and kitchens. The palace is also the site of Marie Baz Wax Museum featuring effigies of men and women who played a part in Lebanon’s history.

Behind the Emile Baz Palace, is the Residence of Nicolas Turq (1763 - 1828), court poet of Emir Bechir II. Built in 1895 in the khan style, it was restored in 1955 - 1962. A gallery of three arcades links the two sections of the buildings and on the south façade are three arched windows.

The Hall of the Column gets its name from the massive column in its center, although the vaulted construction is also supported by a number of pillars. A part of the Palace of Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it later served as a residence of Emir Bechir II Chehab.

The Serail of Emir yousef Chehab, which today houses the town’s mayoral offices, was built for Emir Fakhreddine I. Later enlarged by Emir Melhem Chehab (1729 - 1754), it was then occupied by Emir Yousef Chehab. Finally, Emir Bechir II Chehab stayed there before the palace at Beiteddine was completed. The entrance is through a magnificent door decorated with two lions, symbol of the Chehab dynasty.

Two other sites are a short distance from the midan. The Mausoleum el-Kobbeh is the resting place of Emirs Ahmad Maan (1662 - 1697) and Haidar Chehab (1706 - 1732).  Saydet et-Talleh, or the Church of our Lady of the hill, has been destroyed and rebuilt may times, although the structure we see today dates to Bechir II Chehab. The church has an old door decorated with a half-moon under a cross -a reference to the name “Deir el-Qamar” (Monastery of the Moon). On the first Sunday of August the Feast of the Virgin is celebrated here.

In the area of Deir A-Qamar not far from Kfarhim, a sign marks the right turn to Jahiliyeh. Once in the village, a path leads to the riverside, where water flows down the mountain in a series of cold pools and waterfalls, specially refreshing in the hot summer months.

VISIT OTHER CITIES
(BYBLOS - JEITA GROTTO - TRIPOLI - SIDON  - ZAHLÉ
- BAALBECK)
(THE CEDARS - TYRE - BEITEDDINE - AANJAR
)

EGYPT - SYRIA - JORDAN
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