The overwhelming silence of a convent makes it the perfect spot to escape the city and unwind. With over 60 spread around the country, they are an ideal base from which to explore Lebanon’s rural parts
If solitude is what you’re after there is certainly nothing like the silence of a convent to help you escape from the fast-pace of modern life. Monasteries and nunneries line the landscapes of Lebanon, hidden in rural parts, and make the perfect base for exploring the countryside. Humble and basic, if you’re looking for luxury accommodation, look elsewhere, but the convent escape can provide an alternative lodging experience and an insight into a life unknown. They are also hubs for religious tourism, for those looking to gain an intimate perspective on religious life in Lebanon or as a base for pilgrimage to the country’s holy sites.
Communaute des Beatitudes (09 790820, 09 790821. Bealiban.com. LL18,000; LL37,500 inc. food) is near impossible to find, which is part of its charm. Located in Gharzouz in Mount Lebanon, it’s a modern-built monastery for the relatively new community of the Beatitudes in Lebanon. Winding country roads will lead you past farmers tending to their cattle, orchards of olive trees, crumbling ancient ruins hidden among overgrowth and wild flowers. From the long approach a small stone tower with a cross peeps out from a blanket of trees blooming in different shades of green and yellow. Father Joseph, is the friendly and approachable head of the monastery who will happily tell you about the history of the Community of the Beatitudes. Established within the Catholic Church as part of the Charismatic Renewal Movement, the community was founded in France in 1973.
Here you can experience the Beatitudes simple community life; the small group of brothers and sisters don’t have any employees, rather they work with their own hands, so their time is divided between growing food, cooking, cleaning and praying, along with their mission outreach work and the organization of religious tours. Their tours, offer the visitor everything from A-Z; “We try to give an inner aspect of Lebanon,” Father Joseph says. “We take visitors to fabric factories, the soap factory of Saida and they will visit both mosques and churches and be able to meet with local Sheikhs.”
The monastery is spacious and the rooms simple but clean, mostly with shared bathrooms, though a few rooms have en suite. Take a room facing their Mary Queen of Peace Church and you’ll look out on the lands of tranquility. The views that stretch for kilometers are overwhelming and the perfect backdrop for some quiet thought and reflection.
For Father Joseph, who has been based here since ’98, two years after the Lebanese branch of the Community of Beatitudes was established, it’s the perfect location to live. “As a place I love it. It’s still and calm but not far from Jbeil. The view is sublime,” he says. “We have breakfast outside next to the vines and a view from Beirut to Tripoli.”
WHERE TO SLEEP
Beit al Kahen
This monastery has 67 beds and can host big groups; it’s worth passing by alone to take in the impressive modernist ‘50s futuristic church.
Donation LL30,000, inc. breakfast
03 288211, Maad
Deir El Moukhalles
This Greek Catholic Monastery was founded way back in 1711; and its location has even older roots.
Single and dormitory rooms
LL15,000-LL30,000, inc. breakfast
07 975064/5, Joun
Oasis St Basile
A welcoming place to spend the night at a budget cost. Though they mostly host spiritual retreats and pilgrims, they have an open door policy.
LL52,500, inc. breakfast, 09225176, Sister Andree 71 433226, Zouk Mikhael, Keserwan
Deir St. Georges Al Chir
Stay in the silence of the Lebanese countryside for a minimal price, all meals are included.
LL60,000, inc. breakfast, lunch, dinner
05 271151, Bmekkine
Community Abana, Our Father (Notre Deir Abana)
If its silence you’re after Deir Abana will deliver. This unique silent retreat convent offers plenty of space for contemplation. You can bring your own food; lunch can be enjoyed in the garden, in perfect silence.
Lebanese LL22,500; foreign visitors LL52,000, inc. food
Brigitte, 03 153721, Toula, Batroun
Saydet Qannoubine Convent
Spend a weekend in the Qadisha (Holy) Valley for stunning views and a real escape from city life.
Single rooms, double and dormitories
LL22,500, Inc. breakfast
71 714342 – 06 645505
Qadisha Valley, Wadi Qannoubine
Qozhaya, House of Prayers, Saint Anthony the Great Monastery
This monastery dates back to over 1000 years. The near by foyer has 20 rooms and is open to the public.
qozhaya.com, Qozhaya, Qadisha ValleyLoading