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Panoramic Views > Bekaa   > Zahle > Berdawni Restaurants

Zahle, Berdawni Restaurants (Zahleh, Bride of Lebanon)

To simple say its name brings light-hearted joy, as if it were the tale of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. Zahleh is a queen, a bride in her beauty, the loved one of Lebanon and of all the space around.

Zahleh lies almost in the center of Lebanon, in the plain of the Beqaa, key central point in the region, ensconced in the eastern flank of Sannine, summit of the western chain.

The name signifies a slide, an avalanche, because of its scooped-out form at the mouth of the Berdawni Valley, narrow and confined. The town is 52km from Beirut, sloping up from 900 to 1350m altitude. It seems to come out from a narrow valley like a fjord where abundant water flows between two narrow ledges on which have been installed restaurants, cafés, dance halls, gaming machines and various amusements. These stretch for a kilometer, taking advantage of the stream to make cascades, falls, pools and fountains, under a cool shade that welcomes us all day long.

The town itself, extending several kilometers down to the plain and overlapping onto the slopes, is most picturesque with its houses, arcades, tiled roofs and decorations.

When speaking of Zahleh, one is concerned mostly with the valley, this valley whose sides bear vineyards so it keeps the name of Vineyard Valley, with the elixir derived from aniseed, wine and liqueurs. Zahleh is the paradise valley of poets, poetry and wine. Saïd Akl, one of the world’s greatest poets has been enchanted by it, making it the subject of his finest works. Many, many men of letters, poets, and intellectuals belong to this region, names such as the Maalouf and the Akls being famed around the world.

In the valley one may be served dishes and mezzes of the most delicious and varied kinds, with bread freshly baked alongside. The people are welcoming, friendly and generous. A day spent in the valley is an unforgettable dream, another world whose discovery charms.

In 1864 the Jesuit Fathers came to Lebanon, having received from the Ottoman government the district of Ksara a little to the south, where there remain historic Roman cellars unlike any in the world. The Fathers began improving the vines with stocks imported from France, and since then many presses have been introduced producing wines of the highest quality. During the vendange in September there is a wine festival, with conferences, exhibitions, concerts, plays and dances. Zahleh is full of life during this festival and there is the election of a wine beauty queen. There is a quarter called Karak Nouh one kilometer to the south of the town where there is ‘Noah’s Cellar”, 42 meters long and 2.5 wide, Noah being the father of the vine, planting the first vines in the Beqaa in Lebanon after the Flood.

Some picturesque little hotels with decorative forms, very typical and agreeable, receive tourist and visitors at the entrance of the valley.

- Zahle, Berdawni Restaurants: >> View Movie << (2009-08-01)



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