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Panoramic Views > North > El Koura > Temple of Bziza

Temple of Bziza

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 sarcophagi.

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 ionic order.

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 portico.

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 Mortimer

- Temple of Bziza: >> View Movie << (2010-09-15)


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