The historical inscriptions of Nahr Al-Kalb reveal the diverse visitors of the past
Filled with both history and natural beauty, Lebanon’s mountains give a dramatic setting to some of the country’s most
striking sites; the Nahr Al-Kalb region is certainly no exception. Shying away from the speeding highway, only a
30-minute drive from Beirut, situated just after the tunnel on the Jounieh highway, the “Dog River” features a Roman bridge
and a collection of historical steles, carved onto stone slabs on the mountainside.
They commemorate moments in history, documenting special events that took place in the region or passing marching
armies. Every major conqueror or general who passed by the area marked this spot at the mouth of Nahr Al-Kalb with
a monument. It’s the perfect historical stop-off on the way up North, though with its steep staircases it’s not ideal for kids.
The marbled pieces blend homogenously with the mountain’s surface, as if time has fused them into one. For the Romans
the area held a mystical significance, and they named the river Lycus (River of the Wolf). Their mythology claims a wolf
statue that once sat on a rock plinth close to the river’s mouth guarded the area and when enemies passed, it would howl in
warning. Within the narrow site, there is a fusion of natural green beauty embracing the shadowy gray rocks – the weight of
history emanates from the mountain’s monuments.
Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II, placed the first stele inscription here while passing through on mid-journey to Syria.
He also marked Nahr Al-Kalb as the border between Egypt and the lands of the Hittities, ancient Anatolian people
whose kingdom once spanned the North Levant along with parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In 671 BCE an Assyrian king
passing through Lebanon on his way to conquer Egypt also placed a stele on the mountain’s wall, right next to its Egyptian
counterpart. More contemporary steles include an inscription from Napoleon, English inscriptions from World War I and
World War II after Lebanon was liberated from opposition forces, and most recently an inscription for the liberation
of South Lebanon from Israeli forces. There is also a monument from the 1920s commemorating the French troops that
lost their lives in Lebanon. It’s perhaps the unique richness of Lebanon’s natural landscapes, within a region largely
dominated by barren desert, which has attracted many foreign invaders and enticed important historical figures to carve a
document of their journeys onto the mountains. And, as these figures fade into history, their monuments, stand proudly as
a reminder of Lebanon’s past.
WHERE TO EAT
Enjoy Lebanese mezze by the river at La Verde Resto, LL67,500 pp Lebanese mezze and open drink; Fri-Sat, 10pm; Sun 2pm. On Saturdays watch the resident bellydancer move to the rhythms of the Orient. 70 166377
Continue a further five minutes along the highway to Kaslik and stop for an afternoon espresso at local café, Qube.
HOW TO GET THERE
A short 23km drive from Beirut, the journey to Nahr El Kalb takes no more than 30 minutes. Take the highway North, turn to the right just after Jounieh tunnel.Loading