This large township
stands at nearly three thousand feet in North Metn
about sixteen miles from Beirut, between the valleys
of Nahr el-Kalb and Nahr Antelias, stretched between
villages to the west and the sea lower down. It
extends along the flank of Dhour esh-Shweir, a mountainous
area of the western chain of Lebanon, nearly four
thousand feet high, and is a summer resort with
several springs of mineral and thermal water, much
sought-after. The Fouar district has the springs
of Na’as, Ain er-Rihani, Ain el-Alleyka, and Ain
el-Kash, whose waters are reputed for thetreatment
of disorders of the liver and the kidneys.
Bikfaya also has beautiful woodlands of Mediterranean
pines. The town is crossed by a central highway
around which cluster handsome houses with red-tiled
roofs. It is known as a beautiful resort having
an agreeable climate and enlivened by its flower
festivals, its flower beds, and its agricultural
The name is of Syriac origin, indicating a house
on rocks, a stone quarry, or even (more doubtfully)
a monument. Taken in another way, the name might
mean a house under shadows, for Bikfaya is regularly
plunged in mist.
There are several ways of getting to the town: from
Beirut through Antelias, from Kesrouan through Kleiat,
from Baabdaat or Fellugha, and from the Damascus
For a long time Bikfaya was a Druze fiefdom of the
Abillama family, which favored an influx of Christians
and allowed the installation of the Jesuit Fathers
in 1833, as well as the erection of the church Saidet
en-Najat, Our Lady of Deliverance, whose statue
imported from Rome dates from the seventeenth century.
The oldest church in Bikfaya, Mar Abda, distinguished
by several murals, dates from 1587. There are several
other churches, religious houses and noviciates,
dedicated to Saint Michael, Saint George and Saint
Elias the Prophet. It was here that the flourishing
congregation of of the Sisters of the Holy Hearts
was founded in 1853.
One may admire the official palace of the Abillama
emirs built in the early nineteenth century, now
a well-known summer resort center. Then one may
also find many hotels, restaurants and clubs, various
institutions, and halls for exhibitions. There is
a public library, an equestrian club, and a presidential
residence exhibiting a Roman sarcophagus decorated
with garlands and two portraits and a Greek inscription
in a cartouche. There are various remains going
back to the time of the Shehab and Abillama princes.
The infrastructure of Bikfaya is that of any major
town, with high road, town hall, schools, hospitals,
consulting rooms, police station, and telephone
Formerly Bikfaya was a part of the Kateh of Kesrouan,
but now it is the main center of North Metn and
also the fief of the Gemayel family, who formed
and still runs a political party with its militia.
But there are other notable families, and several
literary figures and artists who animate cultural
activities including exhibitions and conferences.
Needless to say, sports clubs and competitions are
by no means neglected.