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Panoramic Views > Mount Lebanon > Kesserwan > Ghosta

Ghosta Augusta

The origins suggested for the name of this town are as follows.
To begin with, it might refer to the Roman emperor Augustus. It is thought that a minor officer of the emperor wanted to settle in this place, which gives a wonderful view over the sea. Or it might be that the town is named after Philippe Auguste, one of the leaders of the Third Crusade. One of his associates, a certain Boghos, built himself a residence on these heights. Then there are the remains of a column on which is inscribed Augusta, the name of some illustrious Roman lady. It may be the name of an aromatic plant or kostos, a corruption of justice, law. Yet again, the name might come from ghus, a refugee, protected, or gusta, the impregnable refuge in the hills.

It cannot be denied that Ghosta has a breath-taking situation between two projecting arms of the heights forming the back-drop. The view plunges almost vertically down to the sea below from a soaring vantage-point from where one can gaze over the fairyland bay of Jounieh and the far western horizon. Several high hills form this group, this plateau, these dream-like heights on which various notables and wealthy individuals have built their homes, such as the Khazens, the Efrems, and the Corms. As well as their residences there are churches, convents and distinguished monasteries that have become famous, with the religious houses of the celebrated shrine of Harissa outstanding, passed as one approaches Ghosta from the south.

As one enters Ghosta from this side, one sees the massive form of the monastery of Nesbay, which belongs to the Order of Lebanese Maronite Monks. To the north in the hollow between Ghosta and Maarab one perceives the old school of Ain Warqa, dating from the sixteenth century and the reign of the emirs of the Maan and Fakhreddine dynasties. It was a residence of bishops and of Maronite monks where scholars and men of letters were formed. Here researches in Syriac, Qarshouneh (Syriac language written in Arabic script), Arabic, Italian and French were edited and it is still a centre of formation.

Ghosta is almost in the middle of Kesserouan and can be reached by several roads. There is one from the south-west via Jounieh and Harissa; another from Ftouh to the north that passes through the lovely surroundings of Ghazir; and yet another coming down from Reyfoun and Ashqout to the East.

The infrastructure is as modern as one could wish, with electric power, piped water. telephone service, schools, religious houses, seminaries, medical centers, and sports clubs.

Ghosta is seven or eight miles from Jounieh by road and about twenty from Beirut, As well as the fine homes there are restaurants, inns, hotels and cafés, so it is easy to spend a whole day visiting the place.

As one comes down from the heights on the western side through the curve overlooking the sea, one finds the abundant spring of Batha with the very beautiful monastery of the Kreimist Missionary Fathers. This was the first monastery of their Congregation, a seminary purchased in 1865 by their founder, Father Yohanna Habib, from the Armenian monks.

In point of fact the monastery had been built by the Armenians, who had come from Aleppo and other parts of Syria wishing to follow the example of the Maronite monks and hermits. Extensive property was offered them by the El-Khazen sheiks lying in the hollow above the spring of Batha in the then village of Ghosta.

The Armenian Fathers later left the Monastery of Kreim to go and settle in the other monastery of Khawshbawu, selling their previous lands to the Missionary Fathers (les Apôtres), who took over the monastery, restored it, enlarged it, and from it sent missions around the world. On the eastern side there is the extensive monastery of Bzommar founded by the Armenians when they left Khawshbawu
, about which we shall speak elsewhere.

In and around Ghosta there are vineyards and orchards of apple, pear, peach and olive trees, while there are extensive woodlands all around. The people of Ghosta lead a busy life with many activities.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth J. Mortimer

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