The Bekaa provides all the ingredients for a perfect escape. Follow the road to the historical town of Qab Elias and its surrounding lands to discover a vibrant fruit and vegetable market, archaeological ruins and ecotourism activities.
HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGY
The town has many historical and archaeological treasures. The Roman altar, known as the Haydara, is carved into the cliff face. Be sure to visit what remains of the Fakhreddine Fortress, a 10-meter-long wall that stands on a hill above the town. Overlooking the flat plains below, the fortress occupied a strategic position. Nearby in Ras el Ain is a Roman tomb and a curious inscription from the Iron Age.
Head to the old souk and you’ll find a few heritage houses, the nineteenth-century church of Saint Elias and the historic mosque and tomb of the Prophet Elijah, which dates back to the Middle Ages. You’ll also see a statue that was erected in 1927 to commemorate the French soldiers who were sent to Lebanon in 1860 by Napoleon III.
Stock up on delicious products by visiting the souk of Qab Elias. There you’ll find the region’s largest fruit and vegetable market.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday (7 am – 3 pm).
The municipality of Qab Elias has developed numerous hiking trails that start near the forest. One of the trails, which opened in July 2019, is over 15 kilometers long.
In September, Qab Elias celebrates its local agri-food produce and mouneh. During this period, visitors can also enjoy environmental trips, harvesting activities and cycling.
To arrange a trip, call the Municipality of Qab Elias – Wadi el Delm on +961 8 500721.
Spend the afternoon tasting wine surrounded by endless vineyards. Head to Château Clos St. Thomas (+961 8 500812), a family-run winery with a 100-year history. Established in 1990 by Saïd Touma and his family on a hill overlooking the Bekaa valley, this exceptional winery produces first-class wines that satisfy every palate.
From Qab Elias, follow the road to West Bekaa and the signs to Hima Anjar-Kfarzabad. This protected area is a great ecotourism destination: a mix of wetlands, fertile agricultural fields and a vast forest. Fall would be the perfect time of year to go bird watching and discover Lebanon’s rare migratory birds.
Many activities are on offer, from cycling and mule-back riding to environmental activities and harvesting. For tours and further information, contact SPNL on +961 1 344814.
EAT & SLEEP
If you’re looking to spend the weekend in Qab Elias, book a night at Domaine de Chouchène. The property was the private residence of the Touma family for many years before its doors were opened to the public in 2017. The owner, Dr. Fadlo Touma, had always wanted to showcase the beauty of the village he was born and raised in to both Lebanese and foreigners.
This love for Qab Elias drove him to purchase a plot of land and restore some of the valuable ruins of the region. Such ruins include historic houses, ancient water canals and water mills, to name a few, all of which can be found on the property. Dr. Fadlo is also working on building a chapel with a statue of St. Elias, as well as a wine cellar.