The village of
Kfarmishki (Kfarmeshki), the Leather Village
Lebanese villages with names commencing “Kfar...”
are to be numbered by the hundreds. Kfar simply means
hamlet or village and the following part of the name
is often descriptive. In the case that we are considering
the name Kfarmeshki means the village of leather,
in other words the tannery village. The word leather
came into the name no doubt because not far away at
Mashgara there are the largest tanneries in Lebanon
and most probably the leather was once worked at Kfarmeshki.
Kfarmeshki lies in the circumscription of Rashaya
in the southern part of the fertile Beqaa valley,
a rich plain stretching between two chains of mountains.
To reach it one should follow the Damascus Highway
from Shtaura and then turn right and go south, passing
Lake Qarwan and going in the direction of Rashaya
el-Wadi through Majdel Balhiss. Alternative routes
may be found that also go southward. Kfarmeshki stands
at a height of nearly 4,000 feet and is just over
fifty miles from the Lebanese capital Beirut.
The land covered by the village is not just one level
stretch but rather a collection of plateaus, hillocks,
crests and hollows, so there is a variety of views
and the earth is rich and bathed by the sun. Cereal
crops are grown and there are orchards with fruit
trees of many kinds, particularly cherry trees. There
are olive groves and the soil particularly favors
excellent viniculture. Clumps of woodland trees abound.
The local people are unaffected, polite, and welcoming,
honest and hard-working small farmers who cultivate
their land as a labor of love. One has only to glance
at the vineyards to see with what skill, care and
attention they devote themselves in order to maintain
fertility and have good harvests. It is no surprise
to come across ruins here dating back to the times
of the Romans, for they naturally settled wherever
the land was productive.
The central village bearing the name stands on a crest
overlooking Wadi at-Taym and Marj (Pasture) Shemisseh.
The inhabitants are public-spirited people, who ensure
that their village lacks nothing. There is a good
communications network including telephone, electric
power supply, a small school, and an irrigation system.
In cases of emergency there is recourse to the major
centers, Rashaya and Zahleh.
In 1852 the village was visited by an orientalist
by the name of Edward Robinson. He later wrote about
his visit, mentioning the existence of two Roman sarcophagi
in the area. One may see the ruins of a Roman temple
having connection with a group of sanctuaries on Mount
Hermon. This temple, seventy feet by thirty, has suffered
a great deal of damage, but from its position facing
the splendid Mount Hermon, it offers a unique and
unparalleled spectacle. George Taylor spoke of the
alignment of the doorway in relation to the Mountain.
The blocks of stone used in the construction are a
yard thick, skillfully hewn and finished. The pediment
is attractive and elegant. The only wall still standing
with its pilasters is the one on the north side. Impressive
columns embellish the entrance on the western side
and there one can see an altar and a stairway leading
to an underground chamber.
It is supposed that the temple was once used as a
sanctuary dedicated to the prophet Safa, En-Nabi Safa,
the Pure, descendant of Jacob. His honorable body
is believed to lie somewhere in the grounds accompanied
by his spirit and an ancient tradition has it that
one day a man with sufficiently deep faith will uncover
In the year 2012 the temple was visited by the archeologist
Rita Kalindjian, who was shocked and disgusted by
the terrible vandalism and destruction that had taken
place. The temple had been attacked by bulldozers
which had torn down the walls and upright stones in
order for them to decorate the villas of some rich
property-owner best left unnamed.
The lady archeologist Rita was horrified by everything
she saw. Opposite the ancient sanctuary a man of wealth
had built his villa and taken the best stones, blocks,
columns and pieces of masonry to decorate his garden
and the surroundings of his residence. What can one
call this vandalism other than banditry, total irresponsibility,
and utter lack of culture and patriotism? In only
a few hours the remains of two thousand years ago
were shattered, scattering the relics of a high civilization.
The temple, its entrance and the whole site facing
Mount Hermon have been given to Satan. But Rita asks
that the D.G.A., Directorate-General of Antiquities,
where there are honest and highly competent architects
and archeologists, should take action to save this
Despite this flagrant outrage, Kfarmeshki is still
very well worth a visit, being a splendid viewpoint
with its view of Hermon, the Sacred Mountain of Lebanon.
Here all that passes becomes History – and prayer
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer
- The village of Kfarmishki 1: >> View
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- The village of Kfarmishki 2: >> View
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- The village of Kfarmishki 3: >> View
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