Menjez is a small village located in the far north of Lebanon, close to the Syrian border. Perched at an altitude of 350m above sea level, it is located 127km from Beirut. The name Menjez means “hidden treasure” in Syriac, which is accurate given the village’s interesting ancient archaeological sites.
Take north out of Beirut towards Tripoli then Menyeh. From there, take the seaside road towards Abboudiyeh. You will reach an old empty Customs checkpoint at which point you head right towards Menjez. The journey takes around two hours.
What to Do
On the southern side of Menjez you will find an old Roman temple called Maqam er Rab or Beyt Jaalouk built from these same basalt stones; part of it was turned into a church called Lady of Water Spring (Saydet Lem’in).
Menjez is located on a hill surrounded by green fields. It is an ancient village distinguished by its black/blue basalt stone, which gives the village an unusual appearance.
Walking around the village is an adventure of its own given the small alleys and the traditional black stone houses that interlace throughout.
Make sure to pass by the Church of Saint Daniel Church, and admire the beautiful big bell perched on top of the church.
On its northern side, you will find Our Lady of the Fort, a distinguished site of Menjez. This church was built on the ruins of a castle called Qualaat Felis, overlooking a fertile valley crossed by a river (Nahr El-Kabir). On your way up to the church, you will pass by the megalithic tombs. With 87 tombs, Menjez is the biggest necropolis of megalithic tombs, which date back from Mesopotamian times.
The landscape of Menjez can be divided in two parts: urban and agricultural. The village is well known for its abundant olive fields. When the season comes, 15 days after the first rain post-summer (around October/November), the villagers get busy harvesting olives to make olive oil, as well as other goods.
Cultivating olives is one of the oldest Lebanese traditions. Back in the day, villagers would gather their entire families to help out, as it is a timely and laborious process. However, the people of Menjez go the extra mile and help each other out, regardless of whether they are related or not.
Witnessing the olive harvest at Menjez is an experience that simply cannot be missed. Every year, Lebanon Stories (+961 3 321054) organizes a trip around the village’s sites, as well give visitors the chance to join in and lend to the villagers in their olive harvest.
Text by: Nagham Ghandour