The village of Hasroun is located in the Bcharre district of north Lebanon. Its name derives from the Phoenician word for fortress, possibly a result of its location 1,400m above sea level. Perched atop the Qadisha Valley, Hasroun offers visitors unparalleled views, beautiful natural trails, religious sites and a much-needed break from city life.
1-Escape the concrete jungle
Hasroun is often called “the Rose of the Mountain” which can be attributed to the many red-tiled roofs that color the green foliage surrounding it. A beautiful village in Lebanon’s northern region, Hasroun reminds visitors of a different time, with traditional stone houses and low-rise buildings. The most common home you’ll find in Hasroun is the typical Lebanese “central-hall” style house, a two-story building with arched windows and high ceilings, seamlessly combining the natural views outside with the structure. Take your camera for a tour to discover the village’s beautiful architecture.
2-Embark on a spiritual journey
The village of Hasroun is predominantly Maronite, known for its many historic religious sites that draw crowds of pilgrims each year. One of the earliest texts mentioning the village dates back to the late 13th century in Bishop Abraham Al-Hadathy’s writings. It documents the invasion of Hasroun and the persecution of its people, suggesting that the village was populated even prior to that time. The church of St. Jude is one of the most important archaeological landmarks to visit and some sources trace its construction back to Crusader times. St. Jude, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, is also the Patron Saint of Hasroun, thus the church holds great symbolic value. It is characterized by a short bell tower and a low, arched entrance, carved out of the stone wall that surrounds it. Next to St. Jude is Al Saydeh church. Built in the 19th century it was renovated in 1918, its clock and arcade added in 1924. The bell rings on the hour, five minutes past and half past. Another mechanism marks the day of the month. The clock has to be winded manually twice a week. A short walk from Hasroun is the Patriarchate of the Maronite church, located at the top of the mountain in Dimane. The building was constructed in 1938 and offers spectacular views of the Qadisha Valley.
3-Dive into Lebanese history
The village has a number of notable visitors and figures among its population. The French writer, poet and politician Lamartine wrote about the Hasroun’s red-tiled roofs, likening them to a bouquet of roses and French military general and statesman Général de Gaulle stayed at Hotel Awad, today a private residence. The Maronite bishop and librarian Giuseppe Simone Assebani hails from Hasroun and the village gave the Maronite Church two patriarchs: Jacob and Simon Awad. The famous Cinema Dunia in Beirut had its homonymous sister in the village and though the movie theater is no longer operational, its location endures as a testament to a former era. The first pharmacy in the Bsharreh district was established in Hasroun, owned by the late Joseph Boustany, known as the “doctor of the region.” Though the establishment shut down after his death, its memory remains a source of pride for locals.
Hasroun is known for its cool climate and fresh mountain air, which beckon visitors to explore the village. Follow in the footsteps of travelers and painters from all over the world who were inspired and charmed by the village. Emily Anne Beaufort lauded Hasroun as “the most luxuriant spot…in Lebanon” in her book “Egyptian sepulchers and Syrian shrines” (1862), noting that “every inch of soil is cultivated and the place is buried in thickets and forests of thorns.” The Egyptian artist Marguerite Yazbek painted landscapes of the village, juxtaposing its fiery red roofs with the green of the cedars surrounding it. Get inspired and take a walk around the old souk to discover what memorabilia, souvenirs, and fresh local produce are on offer. Visitors can enjoy seasonal fruits like plums, apricots, and apples or shop for handmade jewelry and religious memorabilia. Be sure to enjoy a stroll by one of Hasroun’s many quaint fountains found all over the village and afterwards while away the hours in one of the village’s many traditional cafes, where visitors can enjoy narguileh and a game of backgammon, such as Ras Al Nabeh (06 590118).
5-Hike along the LMT
One of the best ways to explore the village’s natural heritage is to hike the valley and mountain trails surrounding it. Hasroun is a starting point on the Lebanese Mountain Trail, a 470km-long hiking trail extending from Aandqet in the north to Marjaayoun in the south. The trail continues through the neighboring villages of Bazaoun, Bqorqacha and Bqaa Kafra, passing cedar trees, ending in the historic town of Bsharreh. The trek includes a stop at Nabaa Ghrakiya, a well-known fresh water spring in Hasroun that is said to cure kidney disease. Immerse yourself in the area and trek with a local guide
such as Georges Zougheib (70 105546), Joe Rahme (03 832060) or Pierre Germanos (03 378403). For more information, visit the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association website (lebanontrail.org).
Words by Reem Joudi for L’Hôte Libanais
Where to sleep
A member of L’Hôte Libanais’ guesthouses, Dar Qadisha gives its visitors remarkable views, cozy lodging and unparalleled hospitality. To book your room in this 112-years-old, traditional home visit their website (hotelibanais.com).
Where to eat
If you fancy a snack, there are plenty of bakeries in the village to choose from offering manoushe, saj and kaak such as Leba El Amrieh’s bakery (03 489904, opens from the end of May) and Georgette Badra’s bakery (71 190633). For delicious giant homemade pizzas, head to Charbel Touma’s pizzeria (71 006192). His brother Elie Touma’s snack Yakka 3ol 3ol (03 783438) is known for its grilled chicken sandwiches. On a sunny summer’s day there’s nothing like the ice-cream of Surgel (03 191539, surgellb.com/branches, opens in May). Jacqueline Helwanji, your host at Dar Qadisha (same details as above), prepares local dishes and generous breakfast spreads for her guests. Those with a sweet tooth must try her homemade jams and preserves, which she makes using fruits and vegetables from her garden.
Photo credits: Ministry of Tourism