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Qadisha Valley

The Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) is a cultural landscape encompassing one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world.

The valley has been a place of meditation and refuge since the earliest years of Christianity. Traditional land-use is practiced in the form of dramatic terraces that grow grain, grapes and olives.

The four main monastic complexes are mostly Maronite:

- Qannubin Monastery

- Monastery of St Anthony of Quzhayya

- Monastery of Our Lady of Hauqqa

- Monastery of Mar Lichaa

The nearby Cedar Forest is seen as a sacred forest. The ca. 375 Cedrus lebani that survive here are the last remaining of a great forest that gave Lebanon its fame in Antiquity. Some of the trees are claimed to be over 3000 years old. Separate inclusion of the Forest of the Cedars on natural criteria was rejected in 1993, because the designated area was deemed to small for conservation.

Map

Visit April 2012

This is a whole different side of Lebanon, and worth the trek out to the north of Mount Lebanon. I went there on a day tour with Nakhal Tours, a popular and well-organized tour company from Beirut which I had also used for Baalbek/Anjar. There are public buses too, to the town of Bcharré for example, but it would be too much to visit the monasteries and the cedars in one day that way.

We first drove up in the mountains, already enjoying fine vistas over the Qadisha Valley and the villages around it with their large churches and redroofed houses. I had seen snow on the mountain tops on my way to the Bekaa Valley too, but here you're much higher (about 2,000 m above sea level). There are ski resorts also. No wonder that the 'Forest of the Cedars' was covered in snow about 1 - 1,5 meter high. The 'Forest' is a pitiful patch of a few hundred trees, leaving some of my fellow tourmates wondering why we had travelled for hours to just see that. It is quite a touristy spot however, the road along the forest is packed with souvenir stalls. There were other tour buses full of Lebanese daytrippers also.

After half an hour or so, having photographed every single remaining cedar, we went back into the bus to descend into the valley. This is an exciting ride, as we had a big touringcar bus and the road is very narrow and winding. All around there are cliffs, with lots of small caves in it. Some of those were used by hermits and other refugees. We went to a bigger monastic site: the Monastery of St. Anthony of Kozhaya. Most of the constructions here are relatively recent (pretty nonetheless!), but it all originated in cave here too. The main cave can be visited, and it is still used by women praying to become pregnant and (after a succesful pregnancy) coming to give thanks by donating pots and pans.

Community Reviews


Chris Karooz

The most beautiful site on earth,

I came to The Lebanon ( land of my Father )for my second time in 1994, the first time was in 1989 but I was unable to visit the Holy Cedars because of the war, so in 1994 my cousins Carlos, Kerellos and Carla Keyrouz drove me to the Holy Ceaders.

The drive there wes absolutely beautiful but the sight of this magnificent Forrest of God was breath taking, I wish the whole world could see them, I have NEVER forgotton this experience, I pray to God my health will allow me to see them just once more.

I have searched for paintings or prints of the Cedars but so far I have not been able to find them, that is why I am on the net now and found your site.

Keep up the good work

May God Bless you and keep you in good health now and Always

Chris Karooz


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Site Info

Full name: Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

Site History

  • 1998 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
  •  
  • 1993 - Rejected

    "Cedars of Lebanon" was rejected: too small - should look at larger "Cultural Landscape"
  •  

Locations

The site has 3 locations.

  • Forest of the Cedars Becharre District, Governorate of North Lebanon, Lebanon
  • Ouadi Qadisha Becharre District, Governorate of North Lebanon, Lebanon

Connections

The site has 29 connections.

Architecture

Constructions

Ecology

History

  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic "Many of the caves in the Qadisha occupied by the Christian anchorites had been used in earlier as shelters and for burials, back as far as the Palaeolithic period." (AB evaluation)
  • The Crusades "Comme la grotte de Hauqua, celle de Hadath servit de refuge pendant les temps troubles de la fin de Croisades. A deux reprises, en 1268 et en 1283 les habitants du village de Hadath, poursuivis par les armees Mameloukes de Baybars et Qalaoun, s'enfuirent vers cette grotte forteresse. Il est possible que lors de las premiere campagne des Francs aient fait partie des refugies. La siege de la seconde campagne dura une quarnantiaine de jours. Le patriarche de Hadath, inquietant autant les Musulmans que les Croises, aurait ete capture dans cette grotte" (Nom file)

Human Activity

  • Early Printing The first printing press in the middle east was built in 1610 at the Monastery of Qozhaya in the Kadisha valley. It used Syriac characters. Also this printing press was the first to print in Arabic language.
  • Man-made Terraces agricultural terraces
  • Mummies Maronite mummies
  • Secret Locations Early Christian sects fleeing persecution found refuge in the Kadisha. Among these groups were the Jacobites (Syrian Orthodox), Melchites (Greek Orthodox), Nestorians, Armenians, and even Ethiopians. The Maronites, however, are the dominant Christian group in the valley.

Individual People

  • Baibars At the end of the Crusades the Qadisha caves witnessed dramatic actions against their supporters, the Maronites. The Mameluk Sultans Baibars and Qalaoun led campaigns in 1268 and 1283 respectively against these fortress-caves and the surrounding villages. (AB ev)
  • Johann Ludwig Burckhardt Oct 2nd - 4th 1810

Religion and Belief

  • Eastern Catholic Churches Maronite churches
  • Ethiopian Orthodox The hermitage-monastery complexes of Deir es-Salib, Mar Antonios, Mar Semaane, and Mar Assia, along with the isolated chapels of Mar Bohna and Mar Chmouna were all established by Ethiopian Orthodox monks.
  • Sacred Forests or Groves "The ancient text known as the Epic of Gilgamesh, found in central Mesopotamia, makes reference to this forest and describes the Cedars of Lebanon as sacred trees." (AB)
  • Syriac Churches Maronite churches

Timeline

  • Built in the 4th century The Cultural OUV of the site is based upon the continuous use of the area by monastic communities (Monasteries and eremetic caves) since the earliest years of Christianity. Among these in particular were the 'Maronites' who founded monasteries there and, from 5C, faced repeated persecution for their 'heretical' beliefs. From 7C they were effectively isolated until the Crusades in their mountain valley from Byzantine Christians by the spread of Islam and set up their own Patriarch in 687. Of the major monasteries, those of Qannubin and St Anthony of Quzhayya, were traditionally founded in 4C (though possibly in reality somewhat later) whilst those of Our Lady of Hauqqa and St Elisha were founded in 13 and 14C respectively

Trivia

WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process