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Panoramic Views > North > Akkar > Al-Kobayat Qoubaiyat

Al-Kobayat (Qoubaiyat) and the Northern Lakes

The name Al-Kobayat is of Aramaic origin and may signify tides, stretches of water, lakes, or even reservoirs, but in any case the region abounds in water. In fact, North Lebanon stretches as far as Akkar in a countryside of uninterrupted beauty, with picturesque scenery, abundant crops, trees particular to the region, and favorable climate and atmosphere. The inhabitants are sociable, emancipated, bold, and generous.

It is hard to find words that describe the region adequately. The Cedars, the Cornet es-Sawda mountain peak, the forest of Kammuaa, the waters of Ayoon es-Samak, the rivers, the mountains, the distant horizons, the woodlands, and the spectacular views are all enough to take your breath away.

Kobayat is a large Maronite Christian village of some seventy kilometers or twenty-odd miles square. It is composed of three main groups of houses, namely Kobayãt el-Gharbiyeh (West Side), Martmura, and al-Kobayat. it is bounded by the former Akkar to the West, Hermel and the Beqaa to the East, Beit Jallouk and Shadra to the North, and Sindianat Zeidan, Ain al-Hajjal and Qatlabeh to the South.

For this, Speaking of the 8th wonder of the Creation is a truth of Lapalisse, but it is also passed down that on the first morning of the Creation a corner was put aside by the Almighty where he could withdraw to rest, meditate and dream. This divine corner of the world is to be found in North Lebanon, in Akkar at Qobayat. One may say that all Creation is from the hand of the Almighty and is of uniform beauty and magic throughout; but here this supreme retreat was hewn for Divinity itself. In this celestial heritage Kobayat is to be found.

In Lebanon the Christian element is everywhere one making for love and coexistence between the different communities. Ever since earliest times this land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean has been a refuge welcoming all those persecuted, terrorized or fearing massacre at the hands of those of obscurantist belief. Many people thus welcomed have shown little gratitude. We Lebanese reveal the spirit shown in the poem of Victor Hugo where it is said after battle, “Give him drink all the same, exclaims my father.” Can any act be more Christian and more humane?

Kobayat has seen several conquerors and several civilizations pass over its head, as its archeological remains bear witness. Among these we may note those of the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Ottomans, the French and the Syrians.

The inhabited areas we speak of extend between roughly 1,700 and 3,000 feet above sea level divided into several districts or parishes, namely Gharbieh, Martmura, South Zouk, Saydet, North Zouk and Dahr. During the summer the people are all to be found in their home villages, but in winter there remain very few of them, as snow tends to isolate the region. Many have emigrated to Brazil and Venezuela.

Kobayaat has a thoroughly modern and effective infrastructure. Many are drawn to its rich fertile valley with its abundant crops. In 1912 the Consul of France expressed himself thus: “We are in valleys of an astounding fertility.” The local cemeteries date back to the Iron Age and even to the Bronze Age of more than five thousand years ago. Kobayat is at the crossroads between Eastern Asia, Western Asia and the Mediterranean.

Each quarter has its own church and parish, for example Shablo Church, where there is a Phoenician altar and where ancient Phoenician, Greek and Roman coins have been found. All round Ghassalet Church there are precious Roman tombs and ruins. All the remains bear witness to the prosperity of the region during the first Christian centuries. The temple of the god Ban was transformed into the church Saint Artimos (Shallita). The ruins of Shwita Castle testify to the former presence of the Byzantines in the East. On the hill where now stands the Carmelite convent of Mar Doumit ancient jars have been discovered.

Formerly mulberry trees prospered for raising silk-worms but have now been replaced by fruit trees, mainly apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, olive trees and grape-vines, together with vegetables and cereals. There are many woodland trees and the region is classed among the most wooded in Lebanon despite the fires and the uncontrolled clandestine cutting down of trees.

The six districts where there is the most activity are Gharbieh, Martmura, Zouk, Dahr, Ghowaya and Kattabeh. There are many churches, some quite small and simple and others larger and more modern, having been erected by the Carmelite Fathers and copiously decorated with paintings and sculptures. It is worth mentioning the miraculous church of Saydat al-Ghassaleh and of Saydat al-Habal, Saydata al-Intissar, Mar Sharbel, Martmura, Saydat al-Intiqal, Mar Gergis, Mar Doumit, Saydat ash-Shambook, and the Forty Martyrs. Churches dedicated to Our Lady, the Holy Virgin, predominate and are to be found everywhere.

The main families in the village are the Hobaish, the Abdallahs, the Dahers and the Shidiacs. Its sons have included several members of parliament and ministers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, bankers, university intellectuals and literary figures, high officials, artisans, and technicians. There are convents, schools, hospitals and sports clubs. All these taken together make of Kobayat a vital regional center which is well worth a visit.

Joseph Matar
Translated from the French by K.J. Mortimer

- Qoubaiyat forest 1: >> View Movie << (2014-05-15)
- Qoubaiyat forest 2: >> View Movie << (2014-05-15)
- Qoubaiyat forest 3: >> View Movie << (2014-05-15)
- Mar Challita church 1: >> View Movie << (2014-05-15)
- Mar Challita church 2: >> View Movie << (2014-05-15)



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