There's a particular feel here in Enfeh. The setting
of this small Mediterranean town in North Lebanon
is made of simple elements. Old and modern houses
coexist side by side, olive orchids and salt marshes
stretch as far as the eye can see… all wrapped by
a clear azure sky. Yet the beauty of the town has
hidden for centuries around the creek and the peninsula.
had to drive almost 65km from Beirut to reach Enfeh.
We headed straight to the creek that is almost overlooked
by the town's small cemetery. Elsie, the photographer,
and I walked around it, guided by the moist scent
of the sea. Immediately, we found ourselves in narrow
alleys and on stairs of houses painted in blue stripes.
They all connected so it was easy for us to move
around. There were also small terraces often covered
with straw panels. We were at the creek. Ladders
were built for swimmers to dip into the water.
was 11 o' clock and few locals were gathered on
the terraces having breakfast. They came to spend
the day at sea. Actually those small houses are
sort of chalets they said; built years ago replacing
the salt marshes. The seawater was clear and bright,
so we could admire how the Mediterranean had sculpted
the creek, forming small caves. But there were also
niches and basins which could have been used as
wine presses during Roman Crusader times. Look for
the boat ramps carved most probably by the Phoenicians.
most impressive ancient rock work is the trench
that was cut by the Crusaders. It offers a fabulous
view of Shekka promontory. The site as well as the
creek is perfect for taking pictures. The Lords
of Tripoli had a castle on Enfeh peninsula. By cutting
a moat, they separated it from the mainland. At
its center, a spur was left to support the drawbridge.
Today, nothing of that castle remained except for
few embossed stones on the creek side. It was completely
destroyed by the Mamlukes in 1289. It's believed
that many of its rocks were transported to Tripoli
to build their new city. When we were asking about
the moat location, the local swimmers at the creek
advised us not to enter the small scary chambers.
Ghosts might be there!
is a Greek Orthodox town, in terms of its churches.
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Wind is located near
the cemetery. It's a small Byzantine chapel famous
for remnants of frescoes. Recent restoration works
revealed in its underground what could probably
be small basins. Saint Catherine Church is at a
walking distance from the creek. It appears in simple
Romanesque style overlooking the Mediterranean.
We brought the key to enter the church. The iconostasis
is a reminder that only its structure is Crusader,
but the interior is of Greek Orthodox tradition.
Just behind that church is another old chapel dedicated
to Saint Simon and Saint Michael.
we were leaving the site, two stone basins and an
ancient house façade situated few meters
away drew my attention. It was a furn (Arabic for
bakery) located in what seemed to be an old restored
stable. A stone ring to attach animals is still
seen on the wall. The town has to be explored on
foot to discover its old Ottoman period houses.
The streets are quiet and people are very friendly.
list of Enfeh's characteristics won't be complete
without the salt marshes. Imagine lands of white
rocks extending at sea level along the old road
to Tripoli. They seem punched with salt marshes
near the monastery of Our Lady Al-Natour (meaning
watchman). So we went by car for that typical characteristic
of Enfeh. The convent seems small, as it stands
facing the sea. Ancient records reveal the extraction
of salt in Enfeh. Seawater is carried and salt extraction
occurs when water evaporates.
took a deep breath, for the convent's beauty is
simply divine. Encounters in such places often mark
your life. As I was walking towards the convent
gate, a woman's voice interrupted me. It came from
the shade under a tree. I turned and saw a Greek
Orthodox nun pulling out weeds. She's Sister Catherine
who has run the monastery single-handedly for 38
years. As much as I was eager to know about her
life, I was touched by her energy and happiness
in serving God.
Catherine guided me inside the Monastery. She told
me with humility that the Monastery was built by
the Crusaders in 1113 on the site of an ancient
Byzantine convent. It has a small courtyard surrounded
with quarters. The northern side that was destroyed
in 1914 is under restoration. Then we entered the
church. Built in one nave, the vault and walls were
covered with 1997-1999 frescoes painted by Russian
and French artists. They were made according to
12th century style. I couldn't miss the glass stained
windows; they were made in France similar to 7th
the most moving visit was to the shrine of "Joy
and Happiness". Inside is a treasure of ancient
icons and pieces of a wooden iconostasis. On the
lintel of the inside room, the visitor is advised
to take off his shoes because the floor is sacred.
Continuous prayers took place in that particular
small chamber. Reluctantly, we left the Monastery
with sweet emotions gripping our hearts. We just
unexpectedly fell under Enfeh's charm.