Bsharreh, 1400 meters high,
commands a prime position at the head of the Qadisha valley just below the
famous Cedars of Lebanon. In Crusader times it was known as one of the fiefs
of the country of Tripoli. Bsharreh can be reached from Tripoli or through
Ehden or through the Koura district starting at Chekka on the coast. This is
the hometown of Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) the Lebanese poet and
painter. A museum near his place of burial in the rock-cut monastery of Mar
Sarkis should not be missed. Open daily in winter from 9 am to 5 pm except
Mondays, and every day during the summer.
The journey to Bsharre
and the Cedars passes through some of Lebanon's most spectacular scenery. The
mountain road winds through the countryside where red-tile roofed houses cling
precariously to the cliffs, and a patchwork of vineyards and olive groves
stretch out into the lush valleys.
The mountain town of
Bsharre (pictured) is the birth and resting place of Lebanon's famous
artist/author Gibran Khalil Gibran. From Bsharre the road climbs some 400
meters until it reaches the last remaining forest of cedars in Lebanon. The
grove of 400 trees, some of which are more than 1,500 years old, are on the
slopes of Mt. Makmal.
The Cedars is a prime ski
resort for both downhill and cross country skiing. There are ski hire shops
and accommodation in the village below the forest. One of the country's most
unforgettable vistas is of the Qadisha valley which plunges down toward the
coast from the Cedars. From the Cedars it is a 4-hour hike to Lebanon's
highest peak, Qornet Es Sauda.
Bsharre, Bsharri, or Bsharreh), near the resort, is famous in it own right
as the birth place of the popular Lebanese poet, artist, philosopher and
mystic Gibran Khalil Gibran. There is also a chapel in the forest itself;
the Maronite structure dates to 1843.
History and mythology are
something not easy to parse. The story of the Cedars of Lebanon – the oldest
know piece of literature in the world - is a good example.
There was a king about 4500
years ago in the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk - in what is now Iraq, about 140
miles from Baghdad. The king longed to be great, to be famous. And so he
undertook a task that he felt would define greatness for others: he entered into
the vast forest that once carpeted Western Asia and began to cut down its huge
cedar trees. He did this even though he knew that Humbaba, the guardian spirit
of the forest, would come and fight with him. The king struggled with that demon
and killed it.
Today you can still visit what is
left of the cedar forest that made Lebanon the envy of kings around the world.
The Cedars Resort near Bcharre, Lebanon, is perhaps the best place to see the
huge and majestic Cedars of Lebanon. The stand of cedars there is the most
famous of Lebanon’s cedars; it is known as Arz el Rab – the Cedars of the Lord.
It may very well mark the spot where this king (and he really was a king) began
cutting down the cedar forest.
Arz el Rab is the oldest
stand of cedars (Cedrus libani) in Lebanon. Some 375 old cedar trees inhabit a
glacial hollow in the mountains there. Four of the trees reach to a height of
115 feet and measure 45 feet in diameter at the base; these living trees are
thought to be at least several hundred (and maybe almost 2000) years old. There
are another 1000 or so cedars of lesser age. The grove has been surrounded by a
stone wall since 1876.
The Cedars Resort sits in
Lebanon's highest mountain range, on Mount Makmel, and is among the most
spellbindingly beautiful spots in West Asia. From the summit of the mountain you
have a panoramic view of the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, and on a clear day
you can see the island of Cyprus.
While Arz el Rab on the
resort property gives the place a sense history, the main attraction of the
resort is its long ski runs and lengthy ski season. Parts of the property reach
to almost ten thousand feet in elevation. The ski season starts in December and
runs into April at The Cedars. In colonial times the French used the site as a
military ski school.
Information From the Ministry of