10 Things to Do in Metn

by LBTAdmin

You’ve been to Jeita Grotto, visited the National Museum and explored the Roman ruins in Baalbeck. These are all must-see attractions, but for a little variety, Lebanon Traveler has picked 10 places in Beit Mery, Broumana and Baabdat that even some locals don’t know about

 

Aqueduct of Zubaida

Heading up towards Beit Mery, in the secluded river valley

between Mansourieh and Hazmieh, you will find the remains

of a Roman aqueduct that was built to convey water across

the Beirut River onwards to the city. Built in 273 AD during

the reign of Roman emperor Aurelian, the arched bridge-like

structure over the aqueduct is known today as “Qanater es-

Sett Zubaida” or the Arches of Mistress Zubaida.

 

Beit Mery

The three hills, which make up this town, have been home to summer vacationers since the times of the Phoenicians and Romans. Its

pleasant weather and lush pine forests overlooking Lebanon’s valleys and sea make it a favorite resort spot for those trying to beat

the heat. Beit Mery (derived from the Aramaic term for “the house of my lord or master”) has two prehistoric archaeological sites

where flint industries have been found by Jesuit archaeologists. One is on the right bank of the Beirut River, south southwest of the

town, the other is east of the road from Beit Mery to Deir el Kalaa, on a sloping plateau facing the junction of the Nahr Meten and

Nahr Jamani

Municipality +961 4 870702

Deir el Kalaa Country Club + 961 4 972989

Al Janna restaurant +961 4 873120

Restaurant Ain Al Khasfeh + 961 4 870912

Tiger restaurant + 961 4 870564

 

 

Deir el Kalaa

This Maronite Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, and its ancient

Roman and Byzantine ruins, rests on three levels. At the top are

the ruins of a Roman temple dedicated to the god “baal marqod”

over which a church dedicated to Saint John was constructed in

1750. The old church is incorporated into the present early 20th

century structure. A short walk down the hill leads to a small

second century AD temple to the goddess June. Of particular note

is the mosaic floor of a 6th century Byzantine church with one of

the reused temple columns in place. Nearby is a remarkably wellpreserved

public bath. Once a Roman-Byzantine settlement, the

entire site is littered with remains of more temples, a second bath

and a colonnaded street.

+961 4 870080

 

Al Bustan Hotel

.

A local landmark in Beit Mery and the site of an annual

festival of music and art, Al Bustan or “the orchard” in

Arabic is a five-star hotel with a commanding view over

Beirut and the Mediterranean. Founded by Emile Bustani

and his wife Laura in 1962, it houses a growing collection

of art, sculpture, and antiquities in its 117-room facility.

+961 4 972980

 

Broumana

The House of Rammana the god of air, storm and thunder,

doesn’t seem like where you would find thousands of

tourists eager to escape the summer heat, but despite its

namesake, Broumana has a relatively cool climate all year

long. The town’s 6km long main street is lined with shops,

restaurants, bars and café’s that come alive after dark. If you’re

in the mood for French cuisine, Le Gargotier is a quaint

spot that’s especially romantic in the brisk winter months

and for traditional Lebanese fare, Broumana has some of

the best restaurants in the country. Their old-world charm

and spectacular views of the city, offer guests a one-of-kind

experience. If you’d like to spend the weekend in town, there

are numerous hotels to choose from including the charming

Printania Palace Hotel, the iconic Grand Hills Hotel & Spa, or

for the budget conscious, Hotel Le Crillon.

Printania Palace Hotel +961 4 862000

Grand Hills Hotel & Spa +961 4 86 8888

Hotel Le Crillon +961 4 8655555

Le Gargotier +961 4 960562

Burj El Hamam +961 4 862211

Mounir +961 4 873900

Kasr Fakhreddine +961 4 960407

 

Bits and pieces

For those that like bric a brac, look out for Raja Raad’s

collection of old pieces from Lebanese houses that you

can buy, anything from an old window to a marble slab.

+961 3 450936

 

Ayn Asalaam

Broumana wouldn’t be what it is today without the Swiss

missionary Theophilus Waldmeier and the Quakers. In 1873,

he climbed the steep mountain on horseback with his eight

children and purchased a vast stretch of land called “Berket

al-Ghanem” (the Pool of the Conqueror) which was later

changed to “Ayn al-Salam”, (the Fountain of Peace). He did this

with the help of the Society of Friends in England who gave

him the funds with the intent that he would build a school for

the local girls and boys. The isolated mountain area quickly

flourished and was even the location of the first tennis court

in the Middle East. Brummana High School (BHS) continues

to operate under the same principles of peace and goodwill

till this day. It hosts numerous cultural and educational events

throughout the year including the May festival, a summer

retreat for children and an international tennis tournament.

BHS +961 4 960430/1/2

 

Deir Mar Chaaya

In 1700 the Antonin Maronite Order was founded in the

Monastery of Mar Chaya by Patriarch Gabriel of Blaouza.

The modern day structure is surrounded by several

community based activities and meeting areas. Before

you reach the valley, the main road heading down is a

popular walking track especially in summer. As you head

uphill, you’ll find a small chapel on your right hand side, as

well as an organic market with fresh produce and a small

zoo. All of the products sold in the store are grown and

cultivated on the grounds, including a selection of wine

from locally grown grapes. Dairy products are sourced

from the numerous cows on the property and farm fresh

eggs are always a treat to find each morning. The kids will

love watching the animals prance around, and when the

weather gets warmer they can even go on a pony ride.

+961 4 862813

 

Baabdat

Since the opening of the highway a few years ago, this mainly

summer resort town has blossomed into a full-fledged

community, with residents living all year round. The name

Baabdat is derived from the Aramaic words “beit abdutha”

meaning the home of adoration. Famous locals include the

former president of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, film director

Carmen Labaki, director/actress Nadine Labaki and Maxime

Chaya – the first Lebanese to climb Everest. The views from

Baabdat are stunning. It has numerous historic churches like

Saint Mamas Church built in the 16th century. For those that

like exploring it also has many springs. Before heading down to

Beirut, stop by Azrak for an ice cream cone in Chamees and

make the ride back, a refreshing one.

Municipality +961 4 820097

Azrak Pastry & Ice Cream +961 3 633022

Eat at Le Tournant Restaurant +961 3 459523

Stay at Colibri Hotel +961 4 820269

 

Seven Churches

On the Thursday before Easter known as Maundy or Holy

Thursday, the washing of the feet is a traditional component of

the celebration (symbolizing Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet)

followed by an informal visit to seven churches. Those who

follow tradition today usually need a car to embark on such a

journey, but if you’re in the area of Brummana, you can do it by

foot. Starting from Printania Palace Hotel, head straight through

Broumana’s old town and the first church is Mar Gerius of

the Greek Orthodox faith, followed by Mar Chaaya Maronite

church. Continue walking to Mar Charbel church and you’ll see

two very old chapels, both named Mar Gerius across the street.

Your last stop here will be the Azarieh church located on the

grounds of a school belonging to the Azarieh nun’s order. A

short hop to the main street is the location of the seventh and

final church, Mar Elias in front of Farrouj el Achkar, where you’ll

find the best chicken sandwiches in town.

Also see the Church of the Prophet Isaiah – the oldest structure

in Broumana dating back to 333 B.C.

Municipality +961 4 860860

Try Farrouj el Achkar +961 4 862443

 

 

  Getting there

The easiest way to get to this area of Metn (the

mountains) is to take the Emile Lahoud highway from

Nahr el Mot and get off on the Baabdat exit. If you are

near Sin el Fil, Beit Mery is easily accessible from the

Mkalles roundabout. Get on the road heading east. You

will drive through Mansourieh and Ain Saadeh before you

reach Beit Mery on the mountain-top. Follow the road to

Broumana and Baabdat, where you can take the highway

heading back towards Beirut. The scenic road is even

better on your way down with beautiful panoramic sea

views.

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