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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > El Shoof > Baakline


Baakline (Baaqleen) – House of the Sages

Baaqleen (Baakline) stands in the Shouf region in the very heart of Mount Lebanon, at a height of rather over 2,600 feet (850 meters), a little south-west of Deir el-Qamar and 35 miles (52 kilometers) from Beirut, capital of Lebanon. There are several roads leading to the town: one may follow the route of Beit ed-Deen and Deir el-Qamar, that of Ambal, or the way of Jahlieh or of Kfarheem.

The origin of the name is Syriac or Aramaic. The initial B is a shortening of Beit, the house, the place, the site, but the following part is from the root aql, meaning wisdom or intelligence. This would give the home or source of wisdom, but it could also mean a kind of thistle, or spines, or a place of slopes, sharp bends, or winding paths; this would give another meaning, the house of thistles (teasels) or low bushes, scrub.

Baaqleen is a typical Lebanese village nestling in verdure and woodland, with the generous richness of nature extending all around over seven hills of incomparable picturesque beauty.

To pronounce the name of Baaqleen is to summarize in a word the story of the great Emir Maan-Fakhreddeen, who left his birthplace to set up his seat in Deir el-Qamar. Emir Fakhreddeen the Great was born in Baaqleen and grew up there His purpose was to unite all the regions and to enlarge the emirate or princedom so as to free Lebanon from the Ottoman rule and to ensure its independence.

The name Baaqleen is found in archives going back as far as the year 1219, date of the decease of the brother of Salah ed-Deen (Saladin) at Baaqleen, where he was buried. History makes it clear that after the battle of Aïn Dara’ between the Kaïssïïns and the Yamanïïns in 1711, the emir of the mountains Haïdar Shehab kept Baaqleen within his princedom because of its importance.

Later, Baaqleen was attached directly to the seat of the Caïmacam and was his summer residence, and now it still maintains its economic, social and – for the Druze – its religious importance in the Shouf, with a maqam and its kholwats for prayers and meetings. Apart from that, Baaqleen is well known as a summer and tourist resort. People from all over the world coming to see Deir el-Qamar and Beit ed-Deen gather in Baaqleen.

One may see in Baaqleen remains of great historic importance, such as cellars, places of worship, ancient houses and princely residences; here I would mention in particular the palace of Hussein Hamadeh, more than four hundred years old, dating from 1591, and wonderful for its planning, architecture and general beauty.

Note the venerable stairways that join up the squares and alleyways, all integrated into the slopes; the old mills and oil-presses; the tombs bearing witness to the Crusades; the great Seraglio of the Takieddeen family and the prison later transformed into a National Library; the four-hundred-year-old oak tree associated with Lamartine; the streets and alleys reserved to pedestrians; the beautiful old church of St. Elijah the Prophet built in 1753; the public garden, the camping zone and much else besides. There are also cinemas, theatres, clubs for sport and for culture, hotels and restaurants, and open-air cafés alongside the river. Social, cultural and sporting activities are fully catered for.

The infrastructure is thoroughly modern with medical centers, telephone services, hydro-electricity, communication, and schools. These are complemented by a great variety of natural riches, woodland, fields, market gardens, orchards, and markets for several kinds of local produce, including olives and their oil, and local crafts including production of soap. Olives and olive oil are produced on a large scale. A school for craftsmanship was set up in the town and there is attention to such local products as jam, preserves and other foodstuffs.

There are a number of springs from which water gushes out in abundance, the Fountain and Spring of Dayah, Ain Hatab, Ain er-Rabih, Haret el-Fawqa, Ain et-Tannour, and others.

Baaqleen is a town for the Druze, who however live in harmony and on good terms with their Christian and other neighbors.. Among the great families are the Hamadeh, the Takieddeen, the Dahouk and the Alameddine. Without going into details of history, one cannot pass on without a special expression of admiration for the illustrious family of the Hamadeh sheikhs, who for several centuries gave the Druze community of Lebanon their “Sheikh Akl”.

This is something unique in Druze history. Three politico-spiritual leaders stand out, namely Sheikh Mohammed Hamadeh, Sheikh Hussein Hamadeh and Sheikh Rashid Hamadeh.

The son of the last Sheikh Akl was Sheikh Farid Hamadeh,a great advocate and patriot without peer, joining with his family and Lebanese of every community to defend the centuries-old social harmony existing between Druze and Christians. He gave his life for the struggle against occupation and died in exile. His sons Sheikhs Khaled and Maan and their sister Nada carried on in the same spirit, following the example of their ancestors.

In Baaqleen there are many graduates in higher studies in every domain, medicine, law, engineering, literature, journalism, economics, and the like.

Baaqleen has a very active town council which has thrown itself into many projects to make the town known and to raise the standard of living, promoting activity in all the sectors of culture, industry, history, education and agricultural research. It works hand-in-hand with the appropriate ministries of Tourism, Culture, Education, Public Works, and Foreign Affairs, to ensure the development and improvement of the village.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth J. Mortimer


- Baakline - National Library : >> View Movie << (2012-06-01)
- Baakline -
Hamadeh Palace : >> View Movie << (2012-06-01)

 

 


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