are various explanations for the origin of the name
of this town. In Aramaic it would mean a garden
patch for vegetables, while in Hebrew it would indicate
difficulties, aridity. severity or drastic medicine.
it might come from the name of some saint, a healing
monk who treated the sick in this region during
the fourth century.
Whatever such explanations may be, there we see
Assia, perched on the heights of the Batroun prefecture,
a picturesque region, and surrounded by Besheleh,
Hattoun, Mraje, El Hage, Shetine and Helta. It stands
between 1,800 and 3,000 feet above sea level, following
on to Tannoureen and Douma. Neighboring village
are connected by road to Assia, Helta, Zan and Besheleh.
There are remains at Assia going back to Roman times,
among them those of a temple dedicated to Esculapius,
god of medicine. The stones from these ruins have
been used to build houses, monasteries, churches
and the walls of terraces. Several impressive majestic
tombs are to be found hewn out of the rock and scattered
over the village. Here as at Byblos the dead were
buried in clay jars and large urns.
There are over 1,300 inhabitants with an addition
of some 180 registered newcomers. There is a town
council to care for the needs of the commune. There
is a system of solar energy for lighting the streets
and a network of water for both drinking and irrigation
coming from Houb and Nahr el-Jaouz. Several artesian
wells have been dug in the area and there is a project
under study for an artificial lake. A dispensary
supervised by a French mission provides medical
care for the people of Assia.
There are plenty of olive trees and vines, and Assia’s
grapes are much in demand for wine-making at Batroun,
where there are several highly reputed cellars producing
wine of high quality. Assia has several olive presses
turning out excellent oil.
Twenty-five per cent of the farmland of Assia is
irrigated and there are inducements for cultivating
medicinal and aromatic herbs such as thyme, sage
and rosemary. Another flourishing handcraft is traditional
pottery for domestic use. Thanks to the continued
formation of the village people in this craft and
the installation of kilns for baking the shine on
the ceramics, there is a wide choice to enrich the
Lebanese kitchen with dishes, cups, plates, pots,
vases and ashtrays.
Thanks to the support of the International Bank
there is now a system of public transport connecting
the villages of the neighborhood with Batroun Center.
Financed by the Bank, it has encouraged sightseers
and commercial exchanges of every kind.
Assai has been chosen as the center of this tourist
project called Doroob al-Batroun, the Batroun Ways;
it covers no less than nineteen villages which now
share in this tourist, artisan and cultural development.
There are several schools in Assia, which bring
together 150 students from the different villages.
There is a cultural center and a public library
built thanks to cooperation between Assia and the
Ministry of Education, with an internet and information
center. Sporting activities with tournaments and
competitions are in full swing.
There are countless churches and sites of monuments.
The parish church of Saint George was built in 1839
and there are the remains of monasteries Saint Assia,
Saint Saba and Saint Thomas. There is the church
of the Virgin “Fassa” restored in 2004 and the statue
fourteen feet tall of the Virgin of the Fortress
situated on a hill south of Assia, a monument of
Our Lady fourteen feet tall. There are also sarcophagi
and houses where pottery and other products of local
crafts are exhibited.
In Assia everybody is busy, even the elderly women
who act as the living memories of the village and
heirs to its traditions.
Translation from the French: K.J. Mortimer
The Village of Assia: >> View
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