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Zahle

Country
Lebanon
State
Bekaa
City
Zahle
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Zahle is the capital of Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon.With around 320,000 inhabitants,it is the third largest city in Lebanon.The city is situated 52 km (32 mi) east of the Lebanese capital Beirut.All of its inhabitants are Christian,with the largest group being Catholic,and the city contains over 60 churches.

Zahle was founded in the early 18th century.The city enjoyed a brief period as the region’s first independent state in the 19th century when it had its own flag and anthem.Zahle was located far from the emirs of Lebanon and Syria.Therefore, the town did not have any significant allies in their region to fall back on in case of conflicts or attacks.The people of Zahle developed a frontier attitude and worked hard to protect their town.

In March 2011,Estonian cyclists abduction occurred near Zahle, possibly connected to the bombing of a Syriac Orthodox church in the city on 27 March.Fortunately, there was no one inside the church when the bombing occurred,and the next morning,believers came to the church and attended the mass which was held in the frontyard of the church.Zahle is located in the East of Lebanon. Its weather is known for its dryness.It rarely rains in Zahle especially in the summer.Summers are very warm, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.Zahle's winters are characterized by heavy snows.The Berdaouni river, which crosses the city, is shallow,especially during summer.

Zahle in the second largest Christian town in Lebanon and in the Middle East, after Ashrafieh, the largest Orthodox city in the Middle East. Approximately 95 percent of the district is Christian.Some small surrounding towns have insignificant numbers of Muslims, with a Sunni dominated population in Saadnayel and a Shia enclave located north of Zahle (North Mouallaka, Karak Nouh).However, most towns surrounding Zahle are predominantly Christian - including Jdita (predominantly Christian), Kab Elias (75% Christian), Bar Elias (predominantly Christian),Forzol (entirely Christian), Niha (entirely Christian), Raiit (entirely Orthodox), Ali al Nahri (predominantly Christian), Ablah (entirely Christian) and many other predominantly Christian towns around the city.Zahle has 15 surrounding towns,13 of them are predominantly or entirely Christian.



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How to Reach

By Air

The nearest national airport is the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport and is located in the southern suburbs of Beirut within the distance of 100km.

By Bus

Buses are popular and inexpensive and can be stopped anywhere along the way simply by hailing. Never take a bus without verifying the destination with the driver.The fair is for LBP1000 ($0.6).There are Public Buses (are not regular) and Private Buses (are in general better organized than Public buses).

By Ferries

Apart from the international airport, the Port of Beirut is another port of entry.As a final destination, anyone can also reach Lebanon by ferry from Cyprus or by road from Damascus.

Key places to visit
Souk Al-Blatt, Government Serail, Lady of Zahle and the Whole Bekaa Valley, Geha House, St. Elias Al Tuwak, Houch Al Zarani, Wadi Al Aarayesh, Sayedit Zalzali


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Places to Visit

Souk Al-Blatt

Is an old market located in the center of Rassieh, right next to the Church street(which by the way has 8 churches, right next to each other, including the catholic and the maronite cathedrals).This market was used by travelers from Syria, Baghdad and Palestine to sell and exchange their goods. However, today the market has changed.It is no longer tiled, and its shops are not what they were, now Souk Al-Blatt has grocery stores, billiardo places, pubs, and souvenir shops.There have been talks to renovate the Souk Al-Blatt.

Government Serail

This monument is located in the west side of Zahle.The Serail has a traditional Lebanese architecture, which is characterized by window arcades and walled gardens.The Government Serail houses many offices of the municipality.In the past, several rooms of the Serail were used as prison cells for criminals.However, during the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, the Syrian predident Hafez Al-Assad ordered that the Zahalni stop using the Serail as a prison, and he ordered the construction of a new prison.

Lady of Zahle and the Whole Bekaa Valley

Our Lady of Zahle is a fifty meter high tower topped with a ten meter high bronze statue of the Virgin Mary. This impressive structure is located in the south of Zahle (georgraphically) and in the west of the city if you look at it wherever you are inside zahle, and is famous for its impressive views of Zalhe and the Beqaa.The statue of the Virgin Mary is the work of the Italian artist Perrioti. At the base of Our Lady of Zahle is a chapel that can seat a little over of a hundred people.In 2010, a new small Chapel was built next to the church, it was named after Saint Rita.The chapel has its popularity in Zahle,and is one of the most visited universal churches in Zahle.

Geha House

A good example of Zahle's local architecture is the restored Geha House in the old part of town. Although this is a private home, one can easily appreciate its courtyard, garden and arched upper galleries all typical of 17th century architecture.Built by Sheikh Khalil Geha in the early 17th century, today the seventh generation of the Geha family resides in this 24-room dwelling. Other private residences in the same area are the lovely al-Hindi, Youssef Azar and Wadih Skaf houses.These are several hundred years old and also designed with arcades and walled gardens.The Geha Residence Old Serail.

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