The town is located 50km south of Beirut and eight kilometers southeast of Saida, making it a great destination for those looking to do some sightseeing. Take the highway southbound from Beirut and exit just before you reach Saida. From there, continue on the coastal road until you see a road branch to the left, which is signposted and will direct you to Maghdouche.
WHAT TO SEE
Our Lady of Mantara
The town’s most famous landmark is the tower of Our Lady of Awaiting, known as Our Lady of Mantara. Occupying a prominent position at the entrance of the village, it is believed to be the place where Mary waited for her son Jesus Christ when he was preaching in Sidon, Cana, Tyre and Sarafand. The cave within which Mary hid was abandoned, only to be rediscovered in 1721 when a shepherd was trying to save a goat that had fallen into a hole.
The people of Maghdouche constructed a cathedral and a modern tower above the cave in 1963. Today, it is an internationally recognized pilgrimage site.
Orange blossom harvest
Visit the town at the end of February or early March and you will notice the distinct fragrance of bitter orange trees. Maghdouche is well known for harvesting the orange flower and using it in local products, including orange-blossom water, marmalades and syrups. At the onset of spring, locals, farmers and families participate in picking the flower to be sold or distilled.
A picnic is organized every year by Lebanon Stories (+961 70 884461) to the fields of the bitter orange trees, where guests can enjoy the experience while lending farmers a hand with their harvesting.
For hikers and nature lovers, there is a beautiful hike in Abra, a village located less than a 10-minute drive from Maghdouche. The easy-level hike takes in beautiful scenery. Hikers can expect to see very old trees, streams and a number of small caves. Contact Samir Sleiman (+961 3 904300) to organize a hike.
WHERE TO EAT
Kroum El Chames
A well-known spot in the area, Kroum El Chames (+961 70 655959) offers a vast selection of traditional Lebanese dishes.
This spot serves saj, all kinds of manouche and even arguileh (+961 71 629023).
If you happen to reach Maghdouche in the morning, enjoy a hearty breakfast at Family Food (+961 7 200320). It’s a great spot to grab a tasty saj.
Elie Khoury, the owner of Luma’s Snack (+961 71 298940), will prepare you a delicious sandwich using special recipes at the simple cafe.
Text and photos by Nagham Ghandour