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Panoramic Views > Bekaa > Baalbeck > Village of Ayneta


There are two Aynatas in Lebanon, one of which is in the south of the country near Bint-Jbeil at a height of around 2,500 feet, a large village dominated by a crest rising 500 feet above it. At the highest point of this one can see a Roman temple, measuring forty feet by twenty-six, in quite a good state of preservation, with doorway, reliefs, platform, cornice, heads of bulls and a bust of Astarte, together with tombs and inscriptions.

But the Aynata that interests us here is in the region of Baalbek, which was once known as Heliopolis, City of the Sun. To be more exact, it is north-west of Baalbek, on the road that climbs the eastern slopes of the mountain Qornet es-Sawda and leads to the forest of the Cedars of Lebanon.

This Aynata is a Maronite Christian village on the side of Wadi en-Nsour, Valley of the Eagles, below the ridge of the Cedars thirty-five miles from Baalbek and well over 5,600 feet high, also called the Ridge of Aynata.

The Aramaic or Syriac roots of the name indicate a spring of water, or several springs. The village is seventy-one miles from Beirut passing through Baalbek, but it can also be reached through Tripoli and the Cedars. From Aynata one goes down into the valley which ends at Lake Yammouneh at an altitude of some 4,600 feet. It must be explained here that this stretch of water practically dries up in summer.

The view here is splendid, with the majestic plain of the Beqaa Valley, Lake Yammouneh, the Western Chain of Lebanon on the near side, and opposing it the Ant-Lebanon range with Mount Hermon at its southern end.

Now in the third millennium Aynata gives one a feeling of nostalgia, for the village still has its old rural and pastoral appearance. I first visited Aynata sixty-five years ago and if I go there now I feel that time has stopped still, as if it were frozen.

From an abundant spring, the Spring of Aynata, streams of icy-cold, pure, scintillating blue water flow everywhere to irrigate the surrounding agriculture. What is more, this generous flow of water still drives a mill to which quite a number of people even now bring their wheat and other grain to be ground.

At the entry to the village there is a mzar a shrine, dedicated to Our Lady. The old church of the village is dedicated to Saints Serge and Bacchus and the construction of a new church is under study. There is a telephone service, a police post, a medical center and a modest school. Large numbers of walnut and apple trees have been planted.

Winter is very cold at Aynata so most of the inhabitants have emigrated or settled on the coast or in the main cities. However, in Aynata there is the summer residence of the regional archbishop. The feast of the patron saints of the church is celebrated in the village but the main religious celebration is on August 15th for the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.

There is little point in just passing an hour or so in Aynata, for then the real charm of the place escapes one. One should pass several days and nights there to get the feel of its vigorous climate and to become intimate with the good people of the place and feel their affection and kindness.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth J. Mortimer

- Village of Ayneta: >> View Movie << (2012-08-01)
- Village of Ayneta - Mill: >> View Movie << (2012-08-01)



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