The Bekaa Valley offers the perfect Fall escape, bringing heritage, nature and agricultural experiences into the mix. Follow the road to the historical town of Qab Elias and its surrounding lands to discover a vibrant fruit and vegetable market, archeological remnants of another time and ecotourism activities .
The town has many historical and archeological treasures scattered around it. The Roman altar, known as the Haydara, is carved into the rock of a cliff. Don’t miss the remains of the Fakhreddine Fortress, a 10-meter-long wall that stands on the top of a hill above the town. It was a strategic location overlooking the flat plains below, with a breeze that still blows from the Valley of Wadi el Delm. Nearby in Ras el Ain is a Roman tomb and a curious inscription from the Iron Age.
Stroll around the old souk where a few heritage houses can be seen, the 19th Century Roman Orthodox church of St. Elias, and the historic mosque and tomb of the Prophet Elijah, dating back to the Middle Ages. The town also has a statue built in 1927 to commemorate the French soldiers sent to Lebanon in 1860 by Napoleon III. The municipality of Qab Elias has developed two hiking trails; beginning near the forest and leading visitors past the landmarks. Starting September, Qab Elias celebrates its local agri-food produce, mouneh, at its yearly fair. Visitors can also enjoy environmental trips, harvest activities and cycling.
To organize a trip call the Municipality of Qab Elias – Wadi el Delm on
2.Souk Qab Elias
No visit to this part of the Bekaa Valley is complete without leaving with a car-trunk loaded with all the treasures its land has to offer. Visit Souk Qab Elias, the biggest fruit and vegetable market of the region for the freshest produce, in all their colorful glory, at wholesale prices.
Open Mon-Sat, 7am-3pm
Qab Elias town center
From Qab Elias follow the road to the West Bekaa and signs to Hima Anjar-Kfarzabad. This protected area is a great ecotourism destination: a mix of wetlands, fertile agricultural fields and a vast forest. Fall is the perfect time of the year to go bird watching and discover Lebanon’s rare migratory birds. Many activities are on offer from cycling and mule back riding to environmental activities and harvesting.
For tours contact SPNL on 01 344814,
In Qab Elias spend an afternoon wine tasting in a rich landscape filled with endless vines. In the area is Chateau Clos St Thomas (08 500812), a family run-winery with a 100-year history and Chateau Heritage (08 500609), the Touma family’s winery, established in 1888. For lunch stop at Chateau Kefraya (08 645333/444) or Chateau Ksara (08 813495).
Domaine de Taanayel is well known in the region for its outreach and conservation work. Owned by the Jesuit Fathers since 1863, Lebanese NGO Arcenciel took charge of the management of the convent’s agricultural terrain, which covers 568 acres, in 1997. A variety of activities are on offer including cycling, horseback riding and hiking around the lake, along with a zip-line, archery and educational farming for kids. Taste the fresh dairy products of the convent or visit Khan el Maksoud (08 544881, 71 485807, Damascus Road, Taanayel), near Taanayel Ecolodge, that offers locally made seasonal food and accommodation. While at the ecolodge learn how to build an adobe house, the ancient art of constructing from sun dried earth, common in the Middle East and North Africa.
Where To Eat
For a quick snack and local specialties, Tablyit Massaad (08 806626) is a Zahle institution, founded back in 1967. For delicious Armenian food, in a large atmospheric restaurant eat at Anjar’s Shams (08 622600), where people flock from the surrounding areas. Also, don’t miss Tawlet Ammiq (03 004481, tawletammiq.com), the Mar Mikhael restaurant’s Ammiq stop, with local food, cooked by villagers.
Where To Sleep
Zahle, the gateway to the Bekaa, is the perfect base for a weekend exploring the area. A 5 star hotel in the heart of The Valley, Chtaura Park Hotel (08 540011, chtauraparkhotel.com) offers ultimate luxury with 75 rooms and suites. Akl Hotel (08 820701, akl-hotel.com) is located in the historic part of Zahle’s center. The hotel is over 100 years old and had all the traditional touches from stone walls to high ceilings and arched windows. Guests are greeted upon arrival with that Lebanese touch of hospitality, with a cup of mint tea or coffee. Grand Hotel Kadri (08 813290, 08 800027, cristalgrandkadri.com) is a landmark in itself, overlooking the city’s famous Al Berdawni river. Built in the 19th Century, the hotel’s Lebanese architecture combines oriental style with a modern aesthetic.