Traveling in the Batroun Distrist
Batroun is one of Lebanon’s hottest summertime destinations. Batroun District is a long stretch from the Mediterranean coast to the west, partially covering the flanks of West Lebanon mountain (Mount Lebanon) and reaching the peaks of Jabal El Mnaitri.
Today’s adventure was visiting Tannourine, where my husband’s grandmother was born, stopping at Baatra Gorge Waterfall near Balaa, and checking out the charming village of Douma. Then, we joined our family for dinner in Batroun, ending the day watching the stunning sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
Tannourine, located approximately 40 km from Tripoli, is a rocky and mountainous area with sharp slopes and deep valleys. Many Lebanese enjoy spending their summers in Tannourine because of its cooler temperature.
After the famous singer Fairouz wrote a song called ‘Aala Hadir El Bosta,’ Tannourine became the desired destination for many travelers. Tannourine village shares its name with a cedar forest of some 60,000 trees, the second largest reserve in Lebanon. In addition, Tannourine hosts numerous archeological sites dating from the Roman era onwards and is well known for its ancient monasteries, specifically, the convents of Saint Shallitah and Saint Antonios, Deir Houb.
Oldest Lebanese House
Standing tall on a rock skirting the city of Tannourine al-Tahta is an ancient 500-year-old Lebanese house believed to be the earliest example of Lebanese architecture. The house was on the cover of the National Geographic report on Lebanon.
Church of Notre Dame
In the heart of the square, the Virgin Mary awaits you with open arms in the pastoral Church of Notre Dame. The church’s roof is built of cedar wood over a length of 33 meters, one meter for each year of the life of Jesus Christ. Families of Tannourine did the construction of this church in 1881 by offering financial support or their labor of love for the church.
One of the region’s hidden treasures is the Roman Aqueduct in Tannourine el Tahta. The aqueduct was used to transport water for agriculture and daily use, a structure of simple arches and stone. Beyond this structure lies a cliff ideal for rock climbing.
Rock Climbing in Tannourine
Tannourine has become a delight to those that enjoy rock climbing. Four climbing sectors have been built to an internal standard on the limestone walls around Tannourine El Tahta village. Visit the website to learn more.
The grand Afqa Waterfall cascades from a massive cave on a cliff 200 meters high. It is here the myth of Venus and Adonis was born. Walk done the stone steps and admire the gigantic waterfall. It is one of the finest waterfalls in the mountains of the Middle East, which feeds into the Adonis River.
Baatara Gorge Waterfall
Located 56 km from Beirut is the Baatara Gorge Waterfall, also known as Balou’ Bala’a, an extraordinary sight. The waterfall drops more than 250m into the Balaa Sinkhole. The sinkhole was also written as the Cave of Three Bridges due to the natural rock bridges. It gets this name because the journey into the valley below takes three naturally formed bridges, each rising above the one below.
Before entering the park, you can walk nearby viewing points and see the waterfall below. This is also the only place you will find restrooms (toilets). A small tea shop is available nearby for tourists to enjoy.
As you pass the entrance, you will walk down steep steps and arrive at a platform for those wanting to zipline (tickets can be purchased at the gate). As we continue down the pathway, beware that there are no safety rails.
The best time to visit the waterfall is at its peak when the winter snow begins to melt and the water cascades into the chasm. It is one of the most remarkable geological formations on the planet. The Jurassic limestone at the top sequence of the sinkhole is over 160 million years old. The formation is vital to the locality as it is here that much of the fresh water in the area is sourced. Water from the stream slowly infiltrated the limestone over the millennia. Circular erosion over an extended period created the middle and bottom two bridges. When the ice melts from the snow and ice, large chunks of the sinkhole’s sides break away.
- There is no other place in Lebanon quite like the Baatara Gorge Waterfall.
- Admission: 5,000LL per person
The captivating village of Douma is located approximately 45 km from Tripoli, surrounded by lush green mountains, standing at an altitude of 1070 m. Here you will find the perfect climate and an abundance of vineyards and olive and apple groves.
Douma has been inhabited since ancient times and bears all the hallmarks of a traditional Lebanese village with its quaint houses, noise-free streets, and charming souks. Most of the homes in Douma were built between 1881 and 1904, financed mainly by emigrants from Brazil, Argentina, and the United States of America. In the town square sits a sarcophagus bearing a Greek inscription recording that this was the burial place of Castor, who died in 317 AD.
Douma is also called Dūma al-Hadīd, which means ‘Iron Douma’ due to the abundance of iron found in its soil and the superior craftsmanship of its blacksmiths.
Today it is home to those who want to enjoy the classic Lebanese village experience combined with all the comforts of 21st-century living. Perched on a hillside overlooking the village, Douma beckons visitors with its imposing stone façade and distinctive yellow and red painted shutters.
The old souk of Douma is picture-perfect, so be sure to keep your camera handy. You can enjoy a stroll around the stores and pick up some local specialties, including halawa, olive oil, and homemade jams. Don’t miss out on picking up a bag of zaatar, a seasoning used on bread.
Near the historical souk is the Heritage Museum showcasing the history of Douma. Pictures of immigrants from Douma, local handicrafts, and traditional artisan works can be seen here.
Hiking and Trekking
If you seek adventure Douma offers breathtaking views and great hiking opportunities. In addition, visitors can explore the nearby village of Bchaaleh, where olive trees date back thousands of years. Another popular hiking trail is from Douma to the Baatara Gorge in Balaa.
Less than a 10-minute drive from Douma lies the village of Assiya, where the tradition of pottery-making is still alive. Visit Sana Jabbour , a local artisan, to learn more about the craft and discover the unique items her family has been making for generations.
Bchaaleh Olive Trees
“Sisters,” or the Olive Trees of Noah, are among the oldest olive trees in the World found in the community of Bechealeah, Lebanon. Some 6,000 years old, historians say these are Biblical origins. “The Sisters” olive trees remain one of the great unresolved and virtually unexplored pre-Biblical mysteries; common folklore and a few Biblical Scholars believe that these are the trees from which the dove took the branch back to Noah when the deluge subsided.
The coastal town of Batroun is a major tourist destination and is considered one of the oldest cities in the World. The town boasts historic churches, a citadel, old streets, a Phoenician wall, and a major beach resort with a vibrant nightlife. Today, though, it’s got a hipster vibe and active nightlife.
The Mseilha Fort, also known as “Puy du Connétable,” is a medieval fortification situated north of the city of Batroun. The fort is built on a long, narrow limestone rock near the Nahr el-Jawz River. Emir Fakherddine II built the current fort in the 17th century to guard the route from Tripoli to Beirut.
To learn more about the diverse Lebanese culture, you must visit the Diaspora Village, which comprises ten old houses representing various cultures around the World (Canada, Russian, Mexican, American, Austrian, Brazilian, and the United Arab Emirates). The project aims to honor the diversity between those living in Lebanon and the expatriates around the World.
Saint Stephen Church
St. Stephen Church is one of the most stunning landmarks to see in Batroun. Overlooking the fishing port, the Maronite Cathedral of Saint Stephen was built at the start of the 20th century on top of what is believed to have been a small Crusader church. The structure features Byzantine and Roman elements in addition to Gothic art influences.
Saydet el Baher Church (Our Lady of the Sea)
Overlooking the Phoenician walls is a Greek Orthodox Church called Our Lady of the Sea. The church is built from sandstone with barrel vaults to the east and west. Although it is unclear when the church was built, you can find golden icons made by Isaac of Jerusalem in 1863.
Pop into one of Lebanon’s most popular microbreweries and join a scheduled brewery tour, lounge in one of the lawn chairs and sip on a glass of cold brew! A full bar is available that includes several Lebanese wine options. If you want to learn more about Colonel Microbrewery, visit here.
Hilmi House of Lemonade
Batroun is known for its popular drink, lemonade. Due to the abundance of lemons grown in this area, it became a popular drink. Here you will find many options for creating a tasty lemonade drink, such as adding mango, strawberries, or kiwi. You decide!
Take a Biking Tour to familiarize yourself with the area. Hire Routes to get the best routes for the city. You can also visit their website and check the calendar for scheduled biking tours or hire a private tour.
Many wineries can be found in the Batroun District and are well worth checking out. Nearby in the village of Rachkidde is Aurora Winery offering weekend wine tours and tastings. A famous wine in Lebanon is IXSIR which has a beautiful winery to tour in Basbina. Finally, if you are a wine lover, consider Aitbaia, Sept, and Coteaux de Botrys Winery.
Batroun lies on the coastline, offering some of the most pristine beaches to spend your day swimming and soaking up the sun. Bahsa Beach, White Beach, and Joining Beach are some great options.
WHERE TO EAT IN BATROUN
We ended the day on the beach at Pierre & Friends Restaurant, with a picturesque sunset. Many delicious food options to choose from as well as a full bar.
I could go on and on about the beauty of Lebanon. There’s always a new area or village to discover in this little country. The Batroun District offers more than you would expect!