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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > El Maten > Baskinta

Village of Baskinta

Baskinta is a small town about forty-four miles from Beirut (70km), situated in the Upper Metn on the lower slopes of Sannine at an altitude of about 4,500 feet (1,350 meters). In Syriac its name means residence, location, or habitable place; in Aramaic it would mean apartment or house, for this village holds the visitor captive, being of a unique beauty and so crowning proud Sannine Mountain which on this side reaches a height of over eight thousand feet (2,600m).

Baskinta has been inhabited since ancient times, by Phoenicians, Romans and Greeks, all of whom have left their remains. By digging one can find early coins of bronze, gold and silver. Jewels have been found that were worn by Queen Helen, the mother of Constantine. One may still see the ruins of great monuments, great stones, and a little higher at five thousand feet the powerful spring Kanat Bakeesh, named after the temple of Bacchus, god of vitality and the vine. On all sides, the high valley of Baskinta appears as an immense hollow crossed by a torrent, the Wadi Shellet el-Shakhroub, an affluent of Nahr al-Kalb, the Dog River.

At Baskinta the Lebanese heritage has been preserved above all in the style of construction, the morals, the customs, the usages and the traditions. From the heights one has views of unique charm. Baskinta is a summer resort of major importance, with people coming from all sides, particularly those who love calm and Nature. In winter there is even more animation than in summer, for on the slopes of Kanat Bakeesh there is an excellent skiing station.

There is a fully adequate infrastructure, with telephone services, electricity, roads, schools, medical centers, hotels, and restaurants. There is intellectual activity thanks to the presence of an elite of thinkers, philosophers, poets and authors. As for the “Hermit of Shakhroub”, Michael Neaïmy wrote most of his works in a hut that he set up among the rocks.

There are several ways to reach Baskinta; one may go by way of Kesrouan through Kefarzebien or by way of North Metn via Btighrine. Baskinta has been compared to a pearl shining in the depth of the sea. One finds in the town several religious houses and churches, among them the convents of Saint Michael and of Saint Sassine, the latter belonging to the nuns attached to the Lebanese Maronite Monks. The date of its construction goes back to the year 1729. Here the sisters are cloistered and spend their time in prayer, needlework and manual occupations such as farming. One of the personalities who lived at Mar Sassine was the holy Father Moubarak Holeihel el-Hage. There are also ancient cellars, the palace of the Abillama emirs, a silk factory, wine presses, and several monuments.

A small forest of cedars lends a touch of charm to the deepest valley in Lebanon, called the Valley of Skulls, and there are caves, a rushing stream, clumps of pines, orchards and gardens, all adding to the beauty of Mount Sassine.

The Lebanese Maronite poet from Lehfed, Ibn Qilaï (15th century), composed an epic poem celebrating the heroic and even brutal actions of the emirs of this retreat, who rushed down on Qab Elias in the Beqaa to obtain provisions of food and who met there a terrible death inflicted in reprisal.

There are inns and hotels now at Baskinta that draw to them many tourists and there are winter stations on with slopes ideal for skiers.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Baskinta Village - Mar Sassine: >> View Movie << (2012-05-15)
- Baskinta Village, Mikhail Naimy: >> View Movie << (2011-08-01)



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