As one of Mount Lebanon’s oldest villages, Mtein is packed with history, culture and architectural heritage. Head over to the pretty village for a unique trip back in time.
Mtein is located around 35km from Beirut. Take the Matn Express Highway passed Baabdat towards Douar and continue as far as Bologna. Once you have reached Bologna, make a right all the way to Mtein. The road is signposted.
WHAT TO SEE
Mtein’s Main Square
The Al Lamaayiin Emirs took up residence in Mtein from the 16th century until 1840 and built the five palaces that can still be seen today. The beautiful mix of Arabic and Baroque styles, echoing the architecture of Deir el Qamar, remains characteristic of this village. The square now plays host to a number of festivals and music events throughout the year such as the annual “3asha Qarawi,” prepared by the Association of the Ladies of Mtein. The event hosts Mtein’s youth club and several Lebanese singers.
Mtein Museum of Arts
Launched in 2013, the Mtein Museum of Arts boasts a superb collection of over 60 art pieces donated by Lebanese and non-Lebanese artists. The museum was an initiative by the municipality with the people of Mtein to not only restore Mtein old spaces and buildings, but to also encourage and preserve cultural awareness and celebrate the town’s rich heritage. As the first museum of its kind in Lebanon, visitors can admire the numerous paintings, sculptures and photographs by contacting the municipality (04 296144) or by calling Naim Baroud (03 590861).
Old Silk Factories
Originally home to seven factories, Mtein was known for its abundant berry production and silk manufacturing. Today, what you can still see are the ruins of only one silk factory, which stands defiantly just a few steps from the main square.
While wandering around the village, you will spot a number of impressive sculptures. The four pieces, pertaining to artists Nabil Helo, Nabil Basbous, Zaven Hadichian, and Shukrallah Fattouh, are beautiful works of art that decorate the streets of the town and complement its cultural wealth.
Museum of George Khairallah
Mtein is also home to the Museum of George Khairallah, containing a hundred works and articles pertaining to the great painter. Khairallah’s works have toured the world, making his museum a must-see for those visiting the village.
To visit the museum, call Salim Akl (03 237281).
WHERE TO EAT
Casino Khairallah (04 296588/03 312288) occupies a prime position on Mtein’s main square and serves traditional Lebanese food. A popular spot for lengthy lunches, the restaurant boasts an enviable view of the mountains facing the village.
Located near the entrance to the village, Cabana serves home-cooked Lebanese food. There is a kids’ play area too, making it a good choice for families..
Don’t miss the numerous bakeries dotted around the village, where you can indulge in a delicious manakish straight out of the oven.
WHERE TO STAY
Mtein is part of the Lebanon Mountain Trail and has a guesthouse located in the main square. Owned by the Al Qontar family, the old house offers simple yet comfortable accommodation, and a unique opportunity to experience traditional life in the village.
Text and photos by Krystel Riachi (notesofatraveler.com)