Menjez is a small village of about 450 persons located in the far north of Lebanon, close to the Syrian border. Perched at an altitude of 350m above sea level, it is located 127km from Beirut.
The name Menjez comes from the Syriac language, and means the hidden treasure, which is accurate given the village’s interesting ancient archaeological sites.
How to get there:
By car: Take the road from Beirut towards Tripoli then Menyeh, from there take the seaside road towards Abboudiyeh, you will reach an old empty Customs checkpoint at which you head right towards Menjez. The road should take around two hours.
By public transportation: take the bus from the Charles Helou bus station to Tripoli. When you reach Al Tall square, take another mini bus directly to Menjez. It should take around four hours, and cost around LBP 8,000 to reach Menjez.
What to do:
Menjez is located on a hill surrounded by green fields; it is an ancient village distinguished by its black/blue basalt stone which gives the village an unusual appearance.
On its southern side you will find an old roman temple called Maqam er Rab or Beyt Jaalouk built from these same basalt stones; part of it was turned into a church called Lady of Water Spring (Saydet Lem’in).
Walking around the village is an adventure of its own given the small alleys and the traditional black stone houses that interlace throughout. Make sure to pass by St. Daniel Church and admire the beautiful big bell on its head.
On its northern side, you will find Our Lady of the Fort, a distinguished site of Menjez. This church was built on the ruins of a castle called Qualaat Felis, overlooking a fertile valley crossed by a river (Nahr El-Kabir). On your way up to the church, you will pass by the megalithic tombs. With 87 tombs, Menjez is the biggest necropolis of megalithic tombs, which date back from Mesopotamian times.
The landscape of Menjez can be divided in two parts: urban and agricultural. The village is well-known for its widely-spread olive fields. When the season comes, 15 days after the first rain post-summer (around October/November), the villagers get busy harvesting olives to make olive oil, as well as other goods.
Cultivating olives is one of the oldest Lebanese traditions. Back in the day, villagers would gather their entire families to help out, as it is a timely and laborious process. However, the people of Menjez go the extra mile and help each other out, regardless of whether they are related or not.
Witnessing the olive harvest at Menjez is an experience that simply cannot be missed. Every year, Lebanon Stories organizes a trip around the village’s sites, as well give visitors the chance to join in and lend to the villagers in their olive harvest.
Text: Nagham Ghandour