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Panoramic Views > Bekaa > West Beqaa > Hammara Village

Hammara Village (Al Manara Village)

The name alone is enough to describe it and to give one an idea; the Lighthouse!

There 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?

Lying 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.

Manara 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.

During 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 century A.D..

Dr. 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.

Excavations 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.

Prior 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.

At 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 offer.

Joseph Matar - Translation from French: K.J. Mortimer

- Hammara Village: >> View Movie << (2008-03-01)



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