Friday, April 18, 2008

The Cedars

The Cedars: 120 km north east of Beirut, known to the Lebanese as Arz Errab (the Cedars of the Lord). Cedars are among the last survivors of the immense forests that lay across Mount Lebanon in ancient times. The most famous Cedars are in Bsharreh region where about 375 trees, some between 1200 and 2000 years old, stand on slopes 1950 meters high in the shadow of the 3088 meters peak of Qornet Essawda (the highest in Lebanon).

The citizens of ancient Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon used "cedrus libani" to build houses and fashion masts for their ships. From Lebanon's cedar forests, King Solomon (pbuh) got the timber to build his temple and palace in Jerusalem, while the Egyptian Pharaohs used the wood to carve their sarcophagi and sun-ships. Also, Phoenicians and Greeks used its wood through the centuries in their homes, temples, sarcophagi, and galleys.

The village of the Cedars, over 2000 meters in altitude, is a very picturesque ski resort with hotels, chalets and sky lifts.

The Cedars resort is set in an area of unusual natural and historical interest. In only 30 minutes you can drive from the crest of the mountain, which soars nearly 3000 meters above the resort, down to the bottom of the steep-sided Qadisha Grotto; a natural cavern with stalactites and stalagmites formations, at less than 1000 meters. Within this area are rivers, springs, waterfalls, caves and other natural formations as well as rock-cut churches, monasteries and interesting villages to visit. There is always the promise of a friendly welcome from the hospitable people who live there.

Nowadays, the Cedars tree; majestic and indestructible, is the emblem of Lebanon and adorns its flag.

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