is a coast of great-varied beauty. Headlands, bays,
inlets, vertical cliffs falling straight into the
sea, marine grottoes, sandy beaches which in places
are strewn with rocks, clumps of palm trees and
pines, together give an enchanting view with a great
variety of scenery.
This is the eastern coast of the Mediterranean,
where in some places invading armies had to go round
high cliffs in order to advance and which is indented
by charming little natural harbors. Tabarja lies
in the Kesrawan subdivision of Mount Lebanon in
the form of a shallow little bay of quite unrivaled
natural fairyland beauty. I have been there a dozen
times in order to execute scores of sketches and
paintings of this place of paradise. It was here
that Saint Paul embarked for the conquest of Europe
and the evangelization of the Old World. To the
north lies Greece and to the south lie Palestine,
Jordan, Egypt and the great stretches of Africa.
The name Tabarja comes from Greek, meaning a central
point or regional capital. Another possible origin
is the Semitic Tur Burga with the meaning of a tower
of control. This is a bay full of history, having
been the scene of many great happenings. It is also
a small fishing harbor, from where little boats
go out along the coast to throw their nets. Particularly
sought-after is a rare kind of small rose-colored
bream, a fish abundant along this part of the coast
and known locally as Sultan Ibrahim.
Following the shattering building explosion, the
building of tourist premises, the ribbon-building,
and the megalomania, the shoreline has changed much
in character, and much of its original charm and
beauty has unfortunately been lost. One major center
distinguished by harmony with its surroundings has
appeared at Tabarja, the Aquamarina. This Spanish
name, meaning Marine Water, has gone round the world.
The modern and very practical and attractive tourist
complex here is the work of a building company specializing
in tourist construction, starting in 1975 with Aqua
1, followed by Aqua 2 in 1980.
In 1994 a port was established by official decree.
A “Greek” village was built and other projects such
as restaurants saw the light of day, with areas
for dancing, sports, tennis, theater and ceremonies,
interspersed with beds of exotic plants.
The administration of Aquamarina is in the capable
hands of the Board President Clovis Maalouf and
of the innovative architect Joseph Karam and has
gained several awards for its tourist complex, second
prize in Spain and in Italy.
There are many competitions and suchlike activities
along the coast, with exchanges and much mutual
aid among the enterprises, all aimed at improving
promotion of their tourism.
Translation from the French: K.J. Mortimer