The name alone is enough to describe it and to give
one an idea; the Lighthouse!
was a time when it was called Hammara, because of
the red blood color, certainly coming from a soil
rich in iron oxide, or perhaps because of the Syriac
Fragrance of Amber – what name could be more gracious
and more poetic?
in the district of Beqaa East just south of Anjar
and Masna, near the Lebanese-Syrian frontier, the
village of Manara takes one back to a glorious past.
It is 63km. from Beirut, 18km from Rashaya, and
at an altitude of 1150 meters. Its population is
of some three thousand, few of whom reside away
from their home town.
was once the capital of a large area stretching
from Kifir, Zabad and Ghaza to Kamed el-Louz and
as far as Majdel Anjar, Madougha, Ain Arab and Kfardins.
the Ottoman period, that is to say from 1516 to
1914, the region was known for its prosperity, particularly
during the time of the Emirs, the Princes Fakhreddine.
Manara Village, not far from Anjar, was the seat
of the Wali, the governor al-Walid, during the 7th
Issam Khalifeh in his book Nawahi Lubnan (Corners
of Lebanon) and Dr. Fouad Ephrem Boustani both speak
of the historical importance of this district. On
the ancient stones, on the houses of the notables,
there are to be found Arabic inscriptions giving
praise to al-Walid. A great many vestiges of the
past are still in existence, tombs, churches, monasteries,
grottos, a Roman temple and a palace among others.
have shown that a church was built here during the
3rd century after Christ, in pagan Roman times,
at the same time as cellars were hewn out of the
rock, well before the Byzantine epoch. At a later
date one of the tombs was turned into a wine press
where the grapes were crushed.
to the 7th century, the village was entirely Christian,
and one can see the remains of a monastery, as well
as those of an ancient stronghold or fortress built
around an inner square where an altar was put up
surrounded by twenty-two columns. There are Greek
inscriptions with crosses engraved on the borders
that are clearly the work of the Byzantine period.
These remains of past times are now clearly marked
on historical maps and tourist guides.
al-Manara the air is pure, the view stretches far
on all sides, and the countryside is appealing in
its charm. The people are friendly and hospitable
and have many products of local craftsmanship to
Joseph Matar - Translation from French: