In Lebanon, each region has its characteristic tree;
there is the apple tree in the upper mountains of
Mount Lebanon together with the cherry tree, while
orange trees and bananas are typical of the coast.
When one wishes to speak of a tree thousands of years
old and crowned with mystery, that gives oil with
which kings are anointed and the faithful confirmed,
then it is to the olive tree that one refers. And
olive trees are synonymous with Koura, for Koura is
entirely covered with this sacred emblem.
Koura, a prefecture of North Lebanon, is also a region
rich in Roman remains. Bziza is eighty-five kilometers
(a little over fifty miles) from Beirut and lies at
an altitude of four hundred meters, or about fourteen
hundred feet. To reach the place, one has only to
turn right from the highway at Kfarhazir or Amioun,
for it is in the southern stretch of the region.
The name is of Phoenician origin and means the stolen
house or village. According to archeologists and investigators,
Bziza stands over a former village that was destroyed
by earthquakes. One can still see the ruins of a Roman
temple standing over fifteen meters (fifty feet) high
with fragments of pottery and oil lamps. Something
also remains of an ancient mill and there are some
Bziza is a Maronite village surrounded by Orthodox,
with several churches including that of the monastery
of St. Elias (Elijah). It is popular with tourists,
particularly those who like “eco-tourism”, for the
surroundings are most attractive. One may carry on
to Hardeen in the mountains of Batroun higher up or
visit Kaftoon ten kilometers away, or other agreeable
spots. One may visit Ain al-Hasheesh, a spring from
which gushes up fresh crystal-clear water.
The Roman temple at Bziza is quite well preserved.
The western façade is embellished by an elegant
portico of three limestone columns, the remainder
of an original four, supporting architecture of the
A church with two apses was built on the eastern side
during Byzantine times, but this was later removed
in order to reveal the by no means inconsiderable
purity of the temple. Renan went into ecstasies over
its architectural beauty. Just above Bziza and Kuzba
is the village of Ain Akreen with its two Roman temples,
one of which has its walls still standing while the
other is reduced to the two huge monoliths of its
It is the mountain scenery which dominates both Bziza
and Ain Akreen. A visit to Bziza and to the “Naons”
cellar of Ain Akreen makes a most enjoyable excursion.
Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth