Here we are in North Lebanon, in the caza (district)
of Zghorta, whose occupants occupy two towns at the
same time, Ehden and Zghorta, the former during the
summer and the latter during the winter. At the beginning
of the twentieth century there was a similar situation
further South: Jbeil (Byblos) belonged mostly to the
inhabitants of Amshit, until demographic growth completely
changed the situation.
South-east of Zghorta, half-way coming from Ehden,
there is a most delightful spot, at an altitude of
450 meters (nearly 1,500 feet) in continuation of
the mountain-tops of Dahr el Adib among others, where
from various springs there gushes up water that is
cold and crystal-clear. The scene is one of unspoilt
beauty, with the richest environment and a great variety
of plants. This is Benashi, 103km (65 miles) from
Beirut and only a few minutesí drive from Ehden, import
town of the district.
The name is an ancient one, of Semitic derivation,
meaning the Friends. Several sarcophagi are to be
found there going back to Byzantine times, stones
that have been carved or engraved, some old dwellings
and various ruins. During the nineteenth century,
Youssef Bey Karam, the great Lebanese hero who opposed
the Ottoman occupation, made it his headquarters and
in 1886 in a famous battle crushed a Turkish battalion
with the handful of soldiers he commanded at a moment
when thousands of Ottoman troops were pursuing him.
The location disposes one to prayer; nature is at
its most beautiful, indeed sublime, and a reserve
has been laid out where 200,000 trees of every description
have been planted, some imported Europe and others
from America: firs, conifers of every description,
cedars, cypresses, hairy and other kinds of oaks,
junipers, olive trees and carob trees, to mention
but a few.
A wide range of local and imported wildlife has been
introduced, including partridges, hawks, ducks, squirrels,
gazelles and hares.
In view of the abundance of water, an artificial lake
has been created by the construction of a dam to hold
Benashi has been transformed into a popular tourist
site, with groups of visitors coming from all sides
to visit the place and to take advantage of the freshness
and beauty that make it so agreeable.