Day3a of the Day: Zahle

Zahlé is the capital and largest city of Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon. With around 50,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon situated 55 km east of the capital Beirut.

Zahlé is known as the “Bride of the Beqaa” and “the Neighbor of the Gorge” due to its geographical location and attractiveness, but also as “the City of Wine and Poetry.” It is famous throughout Lebanon and the region for its pleasant climate, numerous riverside restaurants and quality arak.

Watch Lebanese Examiner’s special on Zahle, featuring Samak restaurant owner Daisy Samaha:

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For more information about Samak Restaurant, click here.

Day3a of the Day: Niha Bekaa

Niha (Arabic: نيحا‎) is a village in the Bekaa Valley about 8 km north of Zahlé. It is famous for its Roman archeological ruins, and in particular two lower Roman temples that date back to the 1st century AD.

The name Niha is used by four Lebanese towns or villages: Niha, Zahlé in the Bekaa; Niha, Batroun; Niha, Tyre and Niha, Chouf. The word neeha is Syriac and denotes a place of calm and tranquility.

While there are no records of the original date of the establishment of the village, its history largely follows the history of Lebanon marked by various invading armies over several millennia, and by the feudal system that was the norm during the Ottoman occupation.

The Bekaa Valley was a Byzantine stronghold until the Islamic conquest. After the arrival of Islam, many parts of Mount Lebanon, notably the Keserwan, were inhabited by a Shiite population that enjoyed the patronage of the Fatimids.

With the arrival of the Crusades and the Mamluks during the 12th and 13th centuries, the Shiites fled to the Bekaa where they remain today especially in the northern parts (notably the Baalbeck region).

With the arrival of the Ottomans in the 16th century, the Bekaa region was made part of the vilayet of Damascus.

The 19th century witnessed the migration of Christian families from Mount Lebanon (notably Keserwan and Matn regions) to the Bekaa. Spotty records indicate that an agreement was forged in the 19th century between the Shiite and Christian clans to exchange territories.

The Christians of Tamnine exchanged lands with the Shiite inhabitants of Niha, the result of which Tamnine became a majority Shiite village, and Niha became a majority Christian village.

Until the 1960s, the population dressed in traditional Lebanese costumes, notably the male Sherwal garment characterized by baggy pants and headdresses, or the Gambaz, a long gown also worn by men. As the population modernized and education became widespread, western dresses became the norm. Traditional dresses are only worn today during celebratory festivities.

The village is located about 65 km East of the Lebanese capital Beirut off the main road that leads to Baalbeck. It is 8 km North of Zahlé and nearly 2 km North-East of the town of Ablah.

The village sits in a small canyon at an average altitude of 1,100 m (3,600 ft). It is surrounded by fast rising hills with vertical drops of 150 m (500 ft). The canyon narrows and rises to the back country of Niha also known as the “Hosn” (in Arabic, hosn means fortress) at an approximate elevation of 1,350 m (4,400 ft).

The mountains continue to rise over some ten kilometers to reach the top of Mount Sannine at 2,628 m (8,622 ft).

RELATED: Last week’s Day3a of the Day was Aley. Click here to read more.

For more information about the Lebanese Examiner “Day3a of the Day,” click here.

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Day3a of the Day: Aley

Aley (عاليه) is a picturesque city in Mount Lebanon located 17 km uphill from Beirut on the main road that leads to Damascus. It is also the capital of the Aley District and one of the largest cities in Lebanon.

Aley has one of the largest Druze populations in the world along with Sweida in Syria. The natives are predominantly Druze; however, there are Christian Melkite, Orthodox, and Maronite minorities.

Many outsiders, especially from Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, own homes in Aley where they spend their summers, escaping the heat and humidity in their own countries.

The word “aley” derivatives from Aramaic, and means “high place,” referring to the town’s high altitude above sea level.

Aley gained prominence when a railroad was built between 1892 and 1895 passing through the town, linking the Lebanese capital of Beirut to Damascus, which provided the residents of Beirut easy means of transportation to the mountains.

This resort town with its increasing number of tourists and visitors has become one of the most flourishing resort towns in Mount Lebanon, and thus has garnered its historical name as “The Bride of Summers.”

The “Souk Aley” is a relatively long historical boulevard lined with palm trees and numerous red-roofed stone houses erected on the east side of the street. Several street cafes, outdoor restaurants, and nightlife pubs occupy its western side.

In addition to these, there are several antique shops and retail boutiques along the street, which forms the heart of Aley. Aley also hosts a well-known casino and many public swimming pools like the Piscine Aley, Country Club and Heritage.

The municipality contains 13 schools, 4 public and 9 private. The largest and most important of these schools is the Universal College of Aley, and the 2 universities: the Lebanese University-Faculty of Economic Science and Business Administrations, and the Modern University of Business and Science (MUBS).

Aley has 3 hospitals: The National Hospital of Aley (30 beds), Al Iman Hospital (52 beds), and Al Ouyoun Hospital, which specializes in ophthalmology.

For more information about Lebanese Examiner’s “Day3a of the Day,” click here.

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What is the Lebanese Examiner Day3a of the Day?

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — In an effort to develop and expand positive news content on Lebanese Examiner, we have recently launched a new segment called “Day3a of the Day.”

A Lebanese “Day3a,” or “village” in English, is a cultural symbol of Lebanon which sheds light on the country’s religious and cultural diversity and pluralism.

This section will reveal a new Day3a every Tuesday, and will highlight main attractions, geography, economy, climate, and other interesting facts about each village.

Which Day3a do you want us to feature? Submit your favorite to [email protected]

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