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Panoramic Views > Bekaa > Rashaya > Kfarmishki

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 it.

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 wonderful heritage.

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 and poetry.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- The village of Kfarmishki 1: >> View Movie << (2014-06-01)
- The village of Kfarmishki 2: >> View Movie << (2014-06-01)
- The village of Kfarmishki 3: >> View Movie << (2014-06-01)



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