Revered for its historical sites and traditional way of life, Anjar is a fascinating town set in the heart of the Bekaa Valley. Travel expert Pia Abboud points out just a few of its many highlights.
EXPLORE THE LEGENDARY UMAYYAD ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
The Ummayad Citadel is one of Anjar’s most celebrated sites. Built under the reign of Caliph Al Walid Ben Abd Al Malek (705-715 A.D.), it was originally considered the summer residence of the Ummayad Khalifa but evolved into a commercial city thanks to its strategic position. Byzantine and Roman architects constructed the city, which features murals characteristic of the Byzantine period.
However, the city only enjoyed a brief existence. In 744 A.D. Caliph Ibrahim, son of Walid, was defeated and the partially destroyed city was abandoned. Today you can visit the Great Palace, the remains of the mosque, the public baths and more.
ENJOY LOCAL SPECIALTIES AND REGIONAL PRODUCE
Known for its warm hospitality, the town boasts a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal. Shams (08 620567) is a popular spot serving traditional Lebanese food with an Armenian twist as well as international dishes. There are also a number of restaurants in the town center and others along the riverbank next to the freshwater source, such as Nabaa Anjar (08 620590).
Don’t miss the weekly market taking place from 14 June 2019 in the city center. There you’ll be able to pick up homemade products and mouneh items made by local farmers and producers. Contact the Municipality of Anjar for further information (08 620790 / 08 620791).
ADMIRE THE VIEW OF ANJAR FROM THE TAL EL NABI MOSQUE
Just outside Anjar stands the Tal El Nabi Mosque, which is built on top of a small hill overlooking the Bekaa Valley plains, Anjar and its surrounding villages. The view from the mosque is magnificent, particularly during spring and summer when apple and almond trees are in full blossom and endless green fields surrounding the eagle-shaped town of Anjar and the nearby wetlands.
TAKE A WALK BY THE SPRINGS AND OLD MILLS
The name Anjar derives from the Aramaic expression ain garya (flowing water) due to the abundant water sources in the area. Indeed, this was one of the main reasons the Armenian community settled in this area in the early 1940s.
The main spring of Anjar flows through the northeastern part of the city, where there is a public space for visitors featuring a large mosaic mural highlighting the key sites of the city and numerous historical events. There is also a small walking trail: Anjar Water Trail. Take a full tour to check out the old watermills dating back to the foundations of the city and climb the newly built stairs to discover the trail that leads to a hidden cave, an organic farm, a reforestation site and a magnificent viewing point over the plains. It is also possible to rent a small pedal boat on the artificial lake created by the spring.
TAKE A TOUR AND TASTE WINE AT CHATEAU RAYAK
In the neighboring village of Riyak, you’ll find a small family-run winery that is worth a mini detour. The owners, Elias and Juliana Maalouf, will welcome you to Chateau Rayak with great enthusiasm and show you around their vineyards, where you will be invited to taste their wine and arak. Book your visit by contacting Elias Maalouf (03 212885).