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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > El Maten > Aqueducts Zenobia, Hazmieh - Mansourieh

The Aqueducts of Zenobia

There have been many plays and films produced, and may novels written, about the lives of Zenobia and of Odenath Septimus her husband, Prince of Palmyra and ally of the Romans, defending them against the Sassanids of Persia.

Odenath died in the year 267 A.D., deprived of power, it has been said, by the ambitious Zenobia become Queen of Palmyra, 267 to 272. She was a Syro-Phoenician queen whose empire stretched from Asia Minor to Egypt. She wished to drive back the Romans and to rule alone over all the East, Persia, Arabia and Egypt. Indeed she considered herself to be a great-grand-niece of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, herself.

Deploying her army over a vast area, betrayed by the Arab tribes bribed by Rome, for two years she waged war against the army of Aurelien, a war that resulted in her being defeated and led captive to Rome, where she finished her days.

Zenobia was surrounded by a court that included bishops, monks, intellectuals and strategists, and she brought to fruition great projects such as bridges, roads and agricultural improvements.

As for aqueducts and similar works, to her popular tradition attributes the aqueducts of Hazmieh-Mansourieh over the Beirut river. Hazmieh, from the Syriac meaning “quantity of water’, stands at an altitude of between 200 and 800 feet. The construction of the water conduits is said to date back to Roman times or even to some three centuries before Christ.

A particular style of architecture, thanks to the sloping nature of the area, the rapid flow of water and the steepness of the canal have all prevented the formation of lime deposits. The majestic dimensions of the aqueduct recall those of the yet larger one built by the Romans at Nîmes in the Gard in France. The water supplied the region of Beirut and its surroundings.

The local people like to call these aqueducts the Bridges, although they have never been used as bridges, or the Aqueducts of Zenobia, although the Queen of Palmyra had nothing to do with their history, because of the reputation of this illustrious princess for major public works. Taken as a whole, the aqueduct is a little over 250 yards long and is composed of three rows of arches spanning the river. Thanks to the water irrigating this rich valley, the vegetation is luxurious.

The Ministry of Tourism has charged itself with restoring and maintaining these ruins and has erected a large hoarding to explain to tourists and sightseers the history of the place.

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

- Aqueducts Zenobia, Hazmieh: >> View Movie << (2012-02-15)
- Aqueducts Zenobia, Hazmieh: >> View Movie << (2012-02-15)



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