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Panoramic Views > El Nabatieh > Bint Jbeil > Tebneen and Citadel

Tebneen and its Toron Citadel

In the prefecture of Bint Jbeil in South Lebanon sixty-five miles from Beirut, at the bottom of the Wadi el-Mazraa valley but over 2,500 feet above sea level, stands the ancient village of Tebneen. This is dominated by the ruins of a castle founded by the crusader Hugues de Saint Omer in 1104. Linguistic experts are inclined to think that the name of the village is that of a Phoenician deity symbolizing force and protection. The fame of the locality is due to its citadel built during the Crusades on top of a hill from where it overlooks the whole region. Archeologists and historians affirm that the first citadel on the site must have been the work of the Phoenicians. This was rebuilt by the Romans and finally the Crusaders came and restored it once again.

The present citadel is generally understood to be the one reconstructed by the Crusaders. It covers some twenty thousand square feet and parts of the walls and square towers still stand. Its strategic importance comes from the fact that in the year 1105 the Crusaders wished to control and defend the region of Tyre and prevent the Fatimids from invading the regions occupied by the Francs, by blocking the routes used for sending reinforcements. In this way the Frankish forces could remain masters of the situation.

The citadel of Tebneen remained in the hands of the Crusaders until it yielded to the attacks of Saladin after the battle of Hatteen in 1187. In 1229 it was retaken by the Germanic Frederick II commanding the Sixth Crusade but then in 1266 it was seized by the Mamelukes. The citadel was several times restored, each time following the destruction of war. It is known under the name of Toron derived from a word meaning watchtower, fortress, or fortified hilltop.

The structure standing now and covering some 12,000 square feet dates from the eighteenth century. The reconstruction was undertaken by Daher el-Omar, a mercenary and adventurer who wished to free the region of Safad and to resist the Ottomans. He got hold of St. John of Acre in 1750 but in 1775 he was encircled by the Ottomans and met his death at their hands.

As for the village of Tebneen it is an agglomeration where Shiite Muslims and Christians live happily together. One can see the remains there of minor fortresses, the shrine of the prophet Nabi Saddiq, a modern church, a mosque, restaurants, cafés, recreation grounds, a school, a basketball court, several “Green” projects to help farmers, and several springs, including Ain el-Wardeh (Spring of the Rose) and Ain el-Mezrab, which is the source of the Khan riverlet. Surrounding the village there is a forest of pines, vineyards and orchards of olive trees, fig trees, and other fruit and woodland trees, which are carefully tended.

This is an agricultural region and also a summer resort in a modest way, attractive to visitors and hikers. A number of the village inhabitants spend winter in their second home in Beirut or some other coastal town. With its citadel and various historic remains, Tebneen will offer many attractions once peace returns.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Tebneen, the village: >> View Movie << (2011-04-15)
- Tebneen, the citadel: >> View Movie << (2011-04-15)



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