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Panoramic Views > North > Akkar > The Village of Baarzla and waterfall

Bearzeleh and waterfall of Baarzla

The name Bearzeleh is derived from the Syriac Beit Arzel, meaning the textile centre or the place of the unravelling of the silk cocoons. The villages engaged in textile production have always been known to be progressive, rich and prosperous.

Bearzeleh is in the caza of Akkar in North Lebanon, 10km from Halba, the district’s main centre, and 25km from Tripoli, capital of the northern governerate or muhafazah, and it stands at an altitude of 250 metres.

Its townspeople number 20,000, but most of them have emigrated abroad. Since the beginning of the 20th century they have become scattered over Argentina, Brazil, the United States, Australia, Canada, Africa and the Arab countries.

In certain caves around Bearzeleh there have recently been discovered pieces of ancient pottery which are evidence that Bearzeleh existed in Phoenician times and even earlier.

Bearzeleh was converted to Christianity through the influence of the neighbouring village of Arca, where Saint Paul passed when he travelled between Jerusalem and Antioch. Bearzeleh also had an Islamic presence during a certain period of its history, presumably of the Shi’ite division.

There is a forest of oak trees at Bearzeleh which are outstanding for their beauty and many centuries old, this being the biblical forest of Saint Moura. Here one is in another world such as one sees nowhere else, a still virgin corner of our planet, which reminds one of the first mornings of creation, with a unique age-old forest of fine oaks planted by the very hand that moulded the clay and breathed into it life, the same which formed in this living matter trees each of which imposes its presence individually.

They speak of ancient times, these oak trees of Bearzeleh, like the prophets of the Bible, as enduring as time, as eternal as light itself. Here there is Moses who receives us, looking up to God, and farther on there is Isaiah in prayer and Ezekiel lost in meditation. There is Daniel like a lamb, with the ravening lions round his feet, Elijah of the legends, tall and gaunt, and Jeremiah lamenting, to mention only a few.

This is the forest of the prophets, where the air is all prayer and holiness, taking our breath away. Time stands still and so does existence, for here is a permanent resurrection, and horizons of dreamlike beauty. Those who enter come under a magic enchantment and can no longer leave the Elysian spell or wish to return to a sordid world. Here are subjects for the brushes of Watteau to paint or for the mighty hand of Michelangelo to hew, night and the dawn, heroes, slaves and men reborn.

This is a celestial heritage, a privileged nature, a gift of God for God's own land. The ravishing view exalts us and emotion overpowers us. The dark shadows invite us to enjoy the shade embalmed by aromatic plants and flowers of every description.

As for Bearzeleh itself, it is the one village still engaged in the artisan craft of pottery-making, producing work for practical purposes rather than ornament. It is still the elderly women who ply their skill, producing such items as cooking utensils in glazed earthenware, sometimes as much as two centimetres thick and without enamel. Once the saucepan has been heated its contents will continue to simmer and remain hot for a long wait.

Again it is the sturdy women who dry the figs and the grapes, harvest the carob trees for the making of treacle, and prepare all the winter provisions.

The olives are pressed to leave in the jars a fine quality oil. The grapes are crushed and the juice fermented for wine and additionally distilled for arak, the typical spirit of Lebanon.

One sees also small herds of bullocks and cows and little herds of sheep or goats tended by a young village boy or by some busy-fingered woman with clicking knitting-needles.

Myself, I was intoxicated by this world of trees, by the purity of the surroundings, by the virginal shades. Here one forgot temptation in a haunting dream of the East in a celestial sphere. I left Bearzeleh with tears trembling in my eyes.

Tanios Al Halabi - Joseph Matar

- Bearzeleh: >> View Movie << (2002-05-01)
- Baarzla waterfall: >> View Movie << (2005-15-01)


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