Categories
West Bekaa Villages

Ein Zebde, West Bekaa

ain-zebde-1

One of the highest villages of West Bekaa, Ein Zebde is 72 km away from the Beirut, located on the foothills of the Barouk Mountain. It is surrounded by Kherbet Kanafar to the north and Saghbine to the south.

Origin of the name

The village’s name refers to the many water sources and springs surrounding it and that are main sources of the Litani River. Elderlies from Ein Zebde say that the village was once called the “Home of Halal” in reference to its agricultural abundance in legumes, fruits and vegetables, which made it a main food resource for other villages in the Bekaa Valley.

In July 2014, the village’s municipality in collaboration with the Shouf Cedar Biosphere Reserve have inaugurated the newly renovated water spring at the heart of the village. In the public square by the water spring, visitors can enjoy some quit time under the shade of the Old Oak tree, one of the many that surround and embrace this charming village.

Ein Zebde Trail Sign

Agriculture

Ein Zebde is abundant in fruits, vegetables namely peach and apples and crop production especially onions and small red potatoes. During the onion harvest season, the village’s porches are lined with onion bags, in preparation for the winter preserves.

Ein Zebde Peach Fields

Visiting Ein Zebde

This charming village has a lot to offer when you are passing by it. Local guides and farmers can take you on a nice stride in the surrounding hills amongst oak trees and wild plants. During the wild edible plant season, hosts on the food trail will take you into the many orchards surrounding the village in order to learn about these plants and eat some of the traditional salads and turnovers. Ein Zebde is also known by its annual celebration of the Feast of the Cross where village women prepare and sell tons of pieces of Potato Kebbeh, stuffed with labne and kawarma and baked over charcoal fire, in order  to raise funds for the church.

Kebbet batata

And while staying at Ein Zebde Bed and Breakfast, don’t forget to ask for the succulent traditional dish characteristic of this village “Mansoufeh” made of pumpkin and bulgur balls, cooked with caramelized onions and flavored with sour grape juice, a true trophy to every gourmand!

Mansoufe

Categories
West Bekaa Villages

Aitanit, West Bekaa

79 Km away from Beirut, Aitanit is a small village at the foot of mount Niha in West Bekaa, overlooking the Qaraoun Lake.

The name “Aitanit”, as believed by the villagers, derives from “Ain” which means water source in Arabic and “Tanit” a Berber goddess, goddess of maternity and fertility, who was worshiped in the Western Mediterranean and relates to the Phoenician goddess Ishtar. The village is renowned for its historical church of St Georges, where Patriarch Kyrilos Kyrilos was buried. The church which was recently renovated, safeguarding its ancient and beautiful arches, was listed on Lebanon’s religious tourism list. The agricultural lands of Aitanit exceed its residential area, and are mainly cultivated with apple and olive trees. Aitanit is famous for its olive mill that combines both traditional and new olive pressing techniques. The beautiful mountains of Aitanit host part of the trails of the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) and its bed and breakfast is an LMT listed guesthouse.

Categories
West Bekaa Villages

Saghbine, West Bekaa

Saghbine town is located on the eastern slope of Western Lebanese Mountains, at the foot of Mount Niha, by the Litani River in the heart of West Bekaa.

Saghbine_litani
Saghbine overlooking the Litani river

It is sure that Saghbine is an ancient village that was, in bygone time, a central point of communication between the Chouf and the Bekaa. The mountain trails still link Saghbine with the villages of Mrosti, Jbaa, Baadaran, Aamatour and Bater. The Hanouti area (Hanoto in Syriac which means “stores”), on the eastern side Niha mountain, proves the convoys transit between the Shouf and the Bekaa through Saghbine. Old people confirm the presence of significant vestiges in the mountainous surroundings of the village and in its plain, such as Byzantine tombs and Roman vestiges.

Byzantine tombs
Visit with your guide the Byzantine tombs in the mountains

Saghbine is limited by the village of Bab Mareh from the South and Ein Zebde from the North. Its agricultural lands expand to the other side of the Litani River to the villages of Qaraoun, Lala, Baaboul and Jeb Jannine.

 Origin of the name

The origin of the name “Saghbine” is commonly related to the hardness and stubbornness of its men. However, Moufarrej, in the Lebanese Encyclopedia, states that origin of the name Saghbine is Aramaic and refers to the “rugged mountain trails”.

 Agriculture and Environment 

Saghbine is known for its orchards of apple, grape, fig and almonds as well as for its crop production such as wheat, pulses and onions. The village surrounding landscape consists of small forests of varieties of pine trees, cypress, cedar and oak hosting local birds like owls, partridges, Goldfinch, turtledove etc. and mammals like boars and wild rabbits coming from the Shouf Cedar Reserve, foxes and hyenas.

Saghbine_wheat
Harvested wheat, collected in bags under the summer sun

Visiting Saghbine

73 km from the capital, and on an altitude ranging from 700 to 1200 m above sea level, Saghbine is characterized by a mild weather and green landscapes. When staying at the village, don’t forget to visit its beautiful old and new churches and chapels.

Cold Potato Kebbeh
Don’t forget to taste “kebbit el joz” or the cold potato kebbeh with walnut

Make sure you taste its various traditional recipes like zenkoul, potato and walnut kebbe, winter tabboule, fwerigh, its famous lemonade and its ice-cream made with milk goat! 

Saghbine_icecream
Visit Joseph Masrouaa and taste the authentic Arabic ice-cream in different natural flavors

 [button_link size=”large” src=”https://www.google.com.lb/maps/dir//Saghbine/@33.6118228,35.6244973,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x151ed85fe01b1e9b:0x1a681aa9bae988b8!2m2!1d35.6983149!2d33.6117018″]How to get there[/button_link]

Take a guided tour in the village narrow streets © Kirill Dimitriev and Bilal Orfali
Take a guided tour in the village narrow streets © Kirill Dimitriev and Bilal Orfali
Categories
West Bekaa Villages

Kherbet Qanafar, West Bekaa

Set on the foothills of Mount Barouk, and overlooking the Qaraoun Lake, Kherbet Qanafar is located in West Bekaa, about 65 km from Beirut.

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhLNdQEkiH0″ width=”500″ height=”300″]

Origin of the name

The origin of the name Qanafar is not clear. Some say it goes back to the time when the village was ruled and ruined under the reign of King Qanafar. An analysis of the name in light of ancient languages, explains that the word Qanafar is derived from the “kino far” or the house of fruits, “kino” meaning house and “far” meaning fruits.

The majestic oak tree of Kherbet Qanafar ©Jean Estephan

Agriculture and Environment

The village’s landscape invites for hiking and camping. The centenary oak tree is a famous icon of Kherbet Qanafar.

Its diverse countryside is filled with vine yards, vegetable fields and fruit orchards, a true feast to the eyes. The village is mostly famous for its olives, apples, peaches, melons as well as for its  tomatoes, beans, potatoes and onions.

Baladi tomato fields in Kherbet Qanafar

Visiting Kherbet Qanafar

Visiting the food trail in Kherbet Qanafar, you will have an array of agriculture and gastronomic activities to involve in. From tomato picking to tomato paste making, you have the chance to interact with farmers to food producers who will tell you all what you need to know about the history of agriculture in the area and the traditional processing method of tomato concentrate in Bekaa.

Tomato Paste Kherbet Qanafar
Learn how to make tomato paste the traditional way, with a local host

The village is home to two tables d’hôte hosted by the food trail one specialized in milk cookies making and the other in mulberry products making as well as homemade local red wine and Arak. The village is also known for its winery – Chateau Qanafar – which lies on the top hill overlooking the landscape.

Mulberry Compote_Kherbet Qanafar
Making of mulberry compote is an activity suggested by darb el karam in Kherbet Qanafar