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