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Panoramic Views > North > Al Batroun > The Village of Assia

The Village of Assia

There 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.

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

- The Village of Assia: >> View Movie << (2016-02-15)



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