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Panoramic Views > North > Zgharta > Iaal

Iaal (Ia'al)

In the Zghorta sub-prefecture, on a hillock four miles south-east of the town of Zghorta which dominates the region from an altitude of some six hundred feet, there lies the picturesque little village of La’al. Its name is of Canaanite origin and is generally considered to have meant a wild or mountain goat. Although some think that it is of more recent history and would mean gain or benefit, the fact is that this region between the Zghorta and Koura districts once abounded in flocks of goats with their herders and this is the part of the country where the meat of goats is most commonly eaten.

There are two groups of buildings in the place, the village and the citadel. In the village there are several venerable old houses of pleasant aspect, some reconditioned and others in various degrees dilapidated. The village stands on a very old site marked by an ancient water mill, some arches of historic interest, an olive press, and a large number of grottoes among the rocks.

Being lower down than Miziara, La’al has taken advantage of the spring at Miziara to water its rich plots of land that yield abundant harvests. Other springs add to the fertility of the district such as Lakiss, Atiqa of the mint, Zireh of the overshadowing plane trees, and spring of the Gazelle among others. There are very many olive trees, some of great age and others planted more recently. There are also apricot and plum trees as well as grapevines and of course woodland trees such as pines and oaks.

To reach La’al one may take the road from Tripoli and go through Zghorta and Ehden or take the route passing through Amioun, Koura and Zghorta; minor roads link up the surrounding villages. La’al is one of those villages now somewhat abandoned as the inhabitants go to work elsewhere, in Tripoli or Koura.

The citadel of La’ab, 45,000 sq. feet, was constructed by Barbar Agha, governor of Tripoli between 1812 and 1814. It has towers at its four corners and high fortress walls. Inside there are magazines, water tanks, storage space for provisions, stables for horses, rooms for soldiers, reception halls, a tribunal, living-rooms and a mosque. Finally there are some vaults, one where the body of Barbar Agha lies and others for the remains of those close to him. An old olive tree raises its branches at the entrance of the fortress. Little has been done by either the local inhabitants or the authorities to look after the citadel but it has always drawn curious sightseers.

Barbar Agha was helpless in the face of Ahmad Basha el-Jazzar, governor of Akkar (St. John of Acre), who at that time was the all-powerful representative of the Sublime Porte ay Istanbul. Now his citadel remains as an interesting venue for visitors and deserves to be kept in better condition.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- Iaal - Barbar Agha Citadel 1: >> View Movie << (2014-10-01)
- Iaal - Barbar Agha Citadel 2: >> View Movie << (2015-01-15)


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