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Panoramic Views > North > Al Batroun > Smar Jbeil, Phoenician Castle

Smar Jbeil, the Phoenician Castle

Smar Jbeil is a small agglomeration situated in the region of Batroun in North Lebanon 59km from Beirut at an altitude of 500m, on the way between Batroun, Rashana and Douma. The name is of Phoenician origin and means Guardian of Jbeil, the Watchman.

Smar Jbeil is one of the most ancient towns of Lebanon, having a Phoenician citadel which was used by the Romans, who left inscriptions in the northern wall. The Crusaders for their part built basements around its two towers and a church on the side facing north. . Wells were dug in the living rock as well as deep underground galleries.

Ever since the early Christian era there has been a church to the north of the citadel.
- That of Our Lady existed long before the arrival of the Crusades.
- Then there was the church of Saint Thecla.
- The church of Saint Nohra, intercessor the eyes and for sight, has on its north side some very ancient Syriac inscriptions and eleven meters from its summit one may find a sculpture in the form of a cross made up of rings of stone with a cup beneath.

During recent excavations two columns were found with a cellar between them. A thousand-year-old oak tree spreads its boughs near the church.

In 1974 a permanent Scout City was founded near the town, in Arabic Al-Madina al-Kashfiah, the only one of its kind in Lebanon, but much of it was transformed into a military barracks during the troubles of the nineteen-seventies and ’eighties.

The first Maronite patriarch, Saint John Maroun, was bishop of Smar Jbeil and of the region of Byblos and Batroun. It was at Smar Jbeil that together with his nephew he founded the nucleus of the Maronite nation between 687 and 703 A.D., with the support of His Holiness Pope Sergius, a Maronite like himself and of the same Maronite school of the monastery of Saint Maroun near Homs (Epiphany) near Apameia in Syria.

The people of Smar Jbeil work in the big towns along the coast and return home for the weekends, where they find several very sought-after restaurants ready to greet their customers. A modern infrastructure now exists. The terraces are planted with olive trees, almond trees, apricot trees, carob trees and vines. Formerly tobacco made the prosperity of the region.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: K.J. Mortimer

- Smar Jbeil Phoenician Castle: >> View Movie << (2009-07-01)



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