15 Facts You Should Know About Historical Hasbaya In Lebanon

@ayoub_hatoum | @sarah_derbieh

Hasbaya, 120 kilometers from Beirut, is a breathtaking area with a rich history in art, culture, and heritage.

A 2-hour ride from Beirut, Hasbaya is a forgotten historical attraction in South Lebanon. It has the oldest standing ruins that date back to the Crusader period.

Villagers in Hasbaya keep their traditions alive by preserving their customs and rituals.

Here are a few interesting facts about Hasbaya’s unique villages: 

#1 Chehabi Citadel

The Chebabi Citadel, also known as the Serail of Hasbaya, is the centerpiece of antiquity in Hasbaya. The citadel was a strategic location for crusaders, who are believed to have built the castle in the eleventh century.

However, its origins remain uncertain and may go back to earlier periods of the Romans or the Arabs.

In the 1170s, the Chehabi emirs managed to throw the crusaders out and renovated the castle for residential and military use. The six-floor citadel preserves the interior design and architecture of the Ottoman and Mamluk periods. 

Until today, the number of rooms in the citadel remains inaccurate due to its huge size. Its ownership is spread among fifty branches of the Chehabi family, some of whom still live there. 

#2 Souk El-Khan

Widely known as an archaeological landmark in Hasbaya, Souk El-Khan is an old market where people used to exchange goods.

The Souk is located inside a pine forest. It is said that Ali, the son of Prince Fakhreddine Maan, was killed there.

Dating back to the 14th century, the ancient public market is one of the oldest and biggest markets.

#3 Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon, also known as Jabal Al-Shaikh, is located at 2,814 meters above sea level, the second-highest point in Lebanon.

Its southern slopes extend to the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel. The term “Hermon” refers to its sacred and strategic landmark since the Bronze Age.

The mountain is mentioned 15 times in the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and the Bible as the chosen place by Jesus Christ for his transfiguration. In the Roman period, people regarded it as the residence of God.

#4 Roman Temple of Habbarieh

At the foot of Mount Hermon, you will find the town of Habbarieh. Throughout history, Ottomans, Canaanites, and Hebrews tried to occupy it, knowing its strategic location only a few miles from the Syrian and Palestinian borders.

Habbarieh is famous for its historical Roman temple, one of the oldest in the Middle East and parts of it remain unharmed. Some of its preserved walls reach a height of eight meters,.

#5 Rashayya Al-Fukhar

On the southwestern side of Mount Hermon lies the Lebanese historical village of Rashaya Al-Fukhar, named for its fame in pottery production.

Villagers of the area thrive in reviving one of the earliest crafts of the region.

#6 Khalwat Al-Bayada

Khalwat Al Bayada is the principal sanctuary of the Druze of Lebanon. In a secluded location within Mimes, Al-Bayada was built as a tribute to Sheikh Jamal Al-Dine Al-Hamra, a Druze Wali (saint).

Religious scholars narrate that Sheikh Al-Hamra went to the mountains alone to meditate without getting attacked by wild animals. After he died at an old age, his body was perfectly preserved.

It is said that upon smelling the body of the Sheikh, a tiger immediately died. Believers saw this as a sign of respect for the holiness of the Wali.

Derived from the old “Sufi” traditions, the Druze resort to Al-Bayada to pray, meditate, and study religious traditions.

#7 The Evangelical Church

Built in 1852, the church was organized by Evangelical Christians when Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire.

#8 Nabi Al-Shuaib

Nabi (prophet) Shuaib is a highly appreciated figure among the Druze. They believe that his burial place is in Palestine.

In Kfeir, Hasbaya, people resort to Shuaib’s place for prayer and comfort.

#9 Ain Al-Massih (The Spring of Christ)

Christians believe that Christ rested in the shade of a rock by a well in Kawkaba, one of the most ancient villages in Hasbaya.

Believers come to drink from the holy water, pray, and make vows.

#10 Preserved Traditional Houses

Residents in Hasbaya believe in preserving the cultural aspects of old historical Lebanese houses.

The beautiful classical houses with red-tiled roofs sustain the vintage features and traditional architecture.

#11 Olive Trees and Olive Oil

Hasbaya’s hills are covered with rows of silver-green olive trees. Some are thousand years old. 

A large amount of high-quality olive oil is made in Hasbaya and sold. This production is one of the most important sources of income.

#12 The Hasbani River

The Hasbani River in Hasbaya rises on the slopes of Mount Hermon. It is the major tributary of the Jordan River.

It flows for 25 miles southward in Lebanon before crossing the borders and reaching northern Palestine.

Lebanese projects around the river had caused several disputes between Lebanon and Israel, as the latter was concerned about its main source of fresh water.

Tensions eventually cooled down.

#13 Homemade local Mouneh

In Hasbaya’s villages, you can buy traditional mouneh produced by the local community. It is considered a ritual among villagers.

Initially, making mouneh was a way to have food around the year when nature isn’t as giving.

When visiting Hasbaya, you will taste the most delicious homemade jam, pickles, keshek, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, and much more.

#14 MatΓ©

In the 1860s, Latin America witnessed waves of immigration from the Middle East.

Many immigrants from the 19th and 20th centuries returned to their homeland in the 1970s with shared traditions.

One of which is drinking yerba matΓ©. The Druze community, in particular, is culturally linked to drinking this beverage.

In Hasbaya, however, most of the local communities drink mate, as it isn’t limited to one religion.

#15 A nature that welcomes outdoor lovers and explorers

The beautiful nature of Hasbaya is a tranquil and inspiring haven for outdoor lovers. It welcomes hikers and campers, and also seekers of amazing sceneries.

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15 Facts You Should Know About Historical Hasbaya In Lebanon

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