“I, Emperor Adriano, make the area of Yammouneh a protected reserve and shall forbid anyone to cut Juniper trees therein.” (134 AD)
Take a road trip for a bit over 2 hours from Beirut to secluded Yammouneh in the district of Baalbek and walk where ancient civilizations did and left their marks.
Between the two mountains of Makmel and Mounaytra, Yammouneh is a peaceful remote location with ancient history and plenty of nature to discover.
#1 Yammouneh Nature Reserve
Yammouneh nature reserve is a special and physically diverse place. Classed a nature reserve since 1999, Yammouneh is popular for activities like hiking, camping, picnics, and exploration.
#2 Protected Throughout History
The land was also declared protected by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in year 134 AD as the following was found engraved on a rock in the upper west side of Yammouneh: “I, Emperor Adriano, make the area of Yammouneh a protected reserve and shall forbid anyone to cut Juniper trees therein.”
#3 Ancient Traces
The valley holds traces of many ancient civilizations such as Phoenician, Roman, and Arab.
There are a Roman temple and Byzantine ruins. What remains of the temple today is a wall of limestone blocks that goes below the lake level, where there was supposedly the subterranean chambers dedicated to goddess Astarte (Venus).
A group of ruins of an ancient fort located there is said to have served as the summer house for Emperor Adriano.
#4 Lebanese Lake Fish
The lake is home to Lebanon’s only endemic fish, Pseudophoxinus libani.
According to Phoenician mythology, the goddess of love and beauty, Astarte, turned herself into a golden fish in Yammouneh lake when Typhon (the brother of Adonis) waged war against the heavens.
#5 Sacred Yammouneh Lake
The Yammouneh lake is filled by the Nabaa El Arbaain, “the spring of the Forty Martyrs.”
As mentioned above, in Phonecian mythology, the goddess Astarte turned herself into a golden fish here. There is a small village on the south side of the lake.
#6 Rivers & Water Pools
According to the Yammouneh Tourism Association, it is rich in waters and includes 84 water springs, four permanent rivers, and two seasonal streams.
Its shallow bodies of water attract wildlife.
#7 Fault Line
The village lies on the Yammouneh Fault line that was responsible for several historical earthquakes that happened there. A new section of the fault was discovered in 2010 by Ata Elias of the American University of Beirut.
#8 Winter Wonderland
During the cold months, snowfall blankets the region turning it into a beautiful winter getaway destination.
#9 Cannabis Fields
The valley has become a popular attraction for people who want to visit the many cannabis fields of Bekaa.
#10 Early Sanctuary of El
Some Ugaritic texts (1200 BC) revealed to Professor Marvin H. Pope of Yale University that Yammouneh was home to an ancient sanctuary dedicated to El (God). (“El in the Ugaritic Texts”, Vetus Testamentum, Supplement, II – 1955:61ff).
#11 A popular destination for outdoor activities
Camping, hiking, biking, and kayaking are activities many outdoor lovers seek Yammouneh for.