From north to south the Lebanese mountain range offers
a wonderful network of deep valleys, of which at least
four have particular attraction:
- The holy valley of Kadisha in the north, crowned
by the celebrated forest of cedars.
- The valley of Adonis in the center, known locally
as that of Nahr (River) Ibrahim or Valley of Flowers,
at whose highest point is the grotto of Afca out of
which rush the waters of the river.
- The valley of Baskinta, dominated by the most beautiful
mountain of eternal snows, glorious Sannine.
- The valley of Hammana with its picturesque and poetic
views and its depths dominated by Hammana town. All
these valleys open out on the sea on the west side
of the range.
- Then there is the Jordan Valley running north-south
below Mount Hermon and descending to the Dead Sea.
This is not a simple valley but rather a geological
rift, a vast cleft overlooked by the 2760-meter summit
of Mount Hermon.
Hammana, a Christian village whose name derives from
that of the sun god, is a well-known mountain summer
resort thirty-three kilometers east of Beirut, 1300
meters high, lying in the administrative district
of Baabda not far from the Dahr al-Baidar pass, Mdayrej
and Falougha. Zahleh is twenty-five kilometers further
on and Baalbek ninety. One can reach Hammana either
by the coastal road climbing through the Metn district
or by the road coming from Damascus, turning right
The roots of the Mezher family go back to the “Ghassassinates”
and the Tannoukhiin princes. It was they who governed
the region of Hammans when it belonged to the Druze
From the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onwards,
Christians flowed into Hammana at the invitation of
Druze leaders, coming as farmers, technicians, workers
and craftsmen. The Mezher Muqqaddameen received them
with open arms, giving them pieces of land free, while
Abu Hussein Mezher allowed them to build churches,
to pray and practice their religion and even to ring
the church bells.
During his travels in the Orient in 1832 the French
poet Alphonse Lamartine wrote: “One of the most beautiful
views that men have ever beheld, an opportunity to
paint the creation of God, is the valley of Hammana.
Painting or words can describe only one detail of
the fairylike treasure with which the Creator endowed
Lebanon. The greenery, the trees, the orchards and
the forest are renowned, going down in succession
and filling the valley with their riches....”
Palaces, villas and venerable dwellings lend a musical
touch, with the hotels, the schools, the institutions,
but above all the Mezher Palace overlooking the valley
like a window onto paradise and once occupied by the
illustrious Lamartine, his wife, and his daughter
Julia. Two centuries after Lamartine’s stay in the
Mezher palace, it still keeps its sell-preserved and
The Mezher palace that Lamartine occupied was once
the residence of the Muqqaddameen and of the Druze
governors. It made a deep impression on his memory
and left a profound nostalgia, for the following description
is to be found in his Eastern voyage: The Mezher castle
of the Sheikh of Hammana surpasses in elegance, grace
and nobility all that I have ever seen of its kind.
… it may be compared only to one of our most marvelous
Gothic castles of the Middle Ages.”
In 1933 a French mission went to Hammana to place
a commemorative plaque showing Lamartine in bas-relief.
It was fixed in the room where the great poet had
Hammana is a crossroads which points to the districts
of the Metn and the Beqaa. In the past it was an important
and prosperous center for the production of silk,
whose textiles were exported to Tuscany and France.
Now its town hall, infrastructure, clinics, public
and private schools, sports and cultural clubs, telephone
exchange and hotels make it a resort of distinction.
A great Cherry Festival is celebrated in Hammana with
much show, including a a procession of vehicles, but
it must not be forgotten that the apple orchards also
have greatly contributed to the prosperity of the
There are many springs of ordinary drinking and mineral
waters, while a waterfall known as Shaghour Hammana
is one of the curious features of the place.
The former large silk factory has been transformed
and fitted up as a school such as those to be found
in all the Christian centers of Lebanon. Churches
are many, Saint John’s, Saint Savior’s, Our Lady’s,
Saint Elijah’s, Saint Ramonos’, Saint George’s, and
others, each quarter having its saint and holy patron,
while there is even a mosque.
Restaurants, cafés and amusement parks abound
and attract numbers of tourists. Hotels and boarding
houses provide every comfort for holiday-makers, who
come from Lebanon’s capital and from surrounding countries,
their yearly arrival being a highly appreciated key
factor in a center bustling with business and animation.
Joseph Matar - Translation from the French:
- Hammana Mezher Palace: >> View
Movie << (2010-08-01)