112 kilometers away from Beirut, at the altitude of 760 meters, lies a southern Lebanese town so remarkable in beauty and so abundant in undisturbed natural scenery and alluring landscapes, that you'd think you've been transported to another place out of this world, as you stare into its hypnotizing colors. It's a shame that this glory is not getting the attention it deserves.
Yater is a town in South Lebanon that belongs to the Bint Jbeil district in the Nabatiyeh Governorate. It is said to have been a human settlement for a very long time, and the Canaanites are believed to have been its first ancient settlers.
This belief is deduced from the fact that archeologists, as well as locals, have unearthed various ancient artifacts such as pots and language engraved rocks.
In 1852, Edward Robinson visited Yater and found "some few remains of antiquity", including two excavated chambers in the southern part of the town.
The engravings on the rocks found in the excavation sites point to the fact that the original name of the town used to be Yattir (Yathir) or Jether after a sacred historical figure said to be a prophet of Islam.
The burial site of this highly regarded man is currently a place of worship and religious activity for people living in Yater. Some also believe the name descended from the Seryac word Ya'ater, which practically means aroma, and reflected the land's abundant natural scents.
Either way, the name was later changed to its present form for reasons that are still debated. The most agreed-upon story says that the French changed the name due to the difficulty of pronouncing the name in their tongue during their presence in Lebanon in the early 20th century.
In 1962, Yater was recognized as a tourist town and was ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in Lebanon. And although its urban expansion has grown significantly, its extraordinary natural beauty is still preserved and has not faded in comparison.
The magnificent town is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that inhabit its dense, radiant vegetation. Because Yater's soil is very fertile, its people have been heavily involved in agriculture. Many of the municipality's residents own lands and fields where they grow a plethora of crops, the most notable of which are wheat, tobacco, grapes, figs, and olives.
Yater is known to harbor some of the most magnificent natural scenes in Lebanon. The enormous "Kiln Valley" is a majestic sight to behold and is the most electrifying view I've ever witnessed.
Moreover, Yater is also home to several springs, the most significant of them is called A'ayn El Tineh, roughly translated to The Fig's Spring, and is a major attraction for residents of the town as well as people from neighboring towns.
Of the estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people who were born in Yater, only around 8,000 presently reside there. This is because a large portion of its residents has immigrated to other countries. Even though education was not as easily accessible as it is today, the elder generation of Yater includes some very wise and knowledgeable people.
Yater's noise-free environment, its wonderful scenery, its soothing climate brought forth by its optimal elevation from sea level, along with its compassionate and generous people make it a great destination for anyone looking for a simple, humble, and relaxing trip.
So if you haven't already, do yourself a favor and pay Yater a visit at least once in your life. You can't be living in Lebanon and not get to know this hidden gem of ours.