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Panoramic Views > North > El Koura > Shekka Coast


The Ras Shaq’a - Hannoush, Al-Heri and Shekka Coast
For further information, see the collection Les Sentiers de la Foi


Identification

History of a strategic pass

Between Haroun and Shekka, the Ras Shaq’a cliff plunges vertically down to the sea. The narrow rocky passageway was considered a strategic position that invading armies could not avoid. It is likely that a Roman road passed by here, but one can only suppose that it tumbled into the waves during the earthquake of 551 A.D.. A footpath still overhangs the void here. It winds around the rock, clinging to the face of the cliff. In 1909 the Ottomans dug a tunnel through the promontory. During the Mandate, in 1943, the French drove a second tunnel for the railway and then a third. At present the Beirut-Tripoli highroad goes through a new tunnel on the east side of the cape.

Sites of tourist interest

-Various sites of archeological, historical and religious interest.
-The creeks, rocky points and rich submarine life, all of great beauty.
-The pleasure harbors such as Al-Heri.
-The sandy beaches with marine sports available.
All this with the possibility of enjoying delicious sea food.

Things one should know

Hannoush

The Hannoush coastal plain lies west east of Ras Shaq’a. Phoenician remains have been found there including cisterns and presses. One large vat 140 cm across by 102 deep (approx 60 by 40 inches), half buried in the ground, shows Greek letters inscribed on one of its faces. Other inscriptions are to be found on a flat rock overhanging the sea thought to mark the old Roman road that passed by Hannoush and also on sections of columns and capitals dating from Greco-Roman times. Probably Hannoush was the ancient Gigarta, whose name was listed among the episcopal seats along the Phoenician coast. This same name was found carved in a stone at Ibreen that had been taken there from the fortress of Msailhah.

The Church of Mar Yuhanna (St. John)

At Hannoush there are the foundations of a church of Byzantine style dedicated to Saint John. This church probably once comprised three parts and was surrounded by a gallery of marble columns, some of which were marked by a cross. From this period there are also Greek inscriptions and burial chambers hewn in the rock.

The Monastery of Mar Doumit (St. Domitian)

This monastery farm belongs to the Maronite monks and is surrounded by some houses for the workers.

The town of Shekka

Fifteen kilometers north of Batroun on the Tripoli road is the town of Shekka, with a shoreline of salt pans.

Situation

Shekka lies 68 km (44 miles) from Beirut and 16 km (10 miles) from Tripoli. It borders Enfeh with the river Barghoun to the north and Kfar Hazir to the east, with Al-Heri and Nahr al-Asfour (Bird River) to the south and the broad Mediterranean stretching to the west. The old town of Shekka, Shekka al-Antika (the Ancient), rises up to a height of 115 meters, about 370 feet. Along its shore are a large number of caves, Al-Ghamiq, Al-Maskat, and Beknaya, with the source Helweh rising below sea level.

During Phoenician times, Shekka was called Gigarta and this name appears ten times in the Egyptian tablets of Tel al-Armana. Prehistoric flint tools and chips have been found in the cement quarries.
In Byzantine times it became an episcopal seat like Enfeh and the bishops took part in the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D.. Remains of wine or olive presses from Greco-Roman times are still to be seen in several places in Shekka. The cliff faces of Old Shekka bear ancient funerary sites with inscriptions engraved in the soft limestone, but these have suffered from vandals and it is difficult to date them.

During the Arab conquest, Shekka was the arena of major battles. The Byzantines landed on the shore both here and at Al-Heri. During Crusader times, Shekka was divided between two fiefs under the Count of Tripoli, that of Nefin (Enfeh) and that of Puy de Connétable (Al-Heri). In a text dating from 1519, Shekka appears as a farm attached to Enfeh. Under the French mandate, it became a camp for the armies of the Allies and received a visit from General de Gaulle.

Population

In 1909, Shekka had 1,100 inhabitants. The Christian population is part Orthodox and part Maronite, the latter having come in the middle of the 17th century. Over the last three centuries their number has considerably increased.

Resources

These include the cement works and traditional crops. The mulberry, fig and olive groves have all declined because of the pollution caused by the cement works, but growing tobacco and vegetables continues.
Nature has provided Shekka with abundant streams and rivers, among them Al-Asfour, Barghoum and Ash-Sharfeh, which form winter ponds and marshes. Numerous springs provide Shekka and part of Koura with drinking water, though here one must not forget the old artesian wells and water wheels.
At present Habkeh Bay is a fishing harbor, but in the past it was known above all for its submarine field of sponges.

The new Church of the Transfiguration, one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in Lebanon...

For further information, see the collection Les Sentiers de la Foi

 

 


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