South Lebanon, particularly in the department of
Jezzeen, one may find one of the most beautiful
pine forests in the Middle East. The conifers stretch
as far as the eye can see, provoking the deepest
This region is situated in the Western chain of
Mount Lebanon. Endless horizons of mountains and
of rocky valleys follow in successive folds that
reveal this proud tree the pine at its best, leaving
bluish shadows pierced by the rays of the sun and
carrying us away to a world like paradise.
We are at Bkasseen at a height of three thousand
feet and forty-five miles from Beirut. To come here
we had to follow the southern high road and turn
left in the direction of Kfar Kala, Azour, Mashmousheh
and Bkasseen. The village nestles almost invisible
in this vast stretch of woodland.
The name is of Aramaic origin and means a place
where cups are made. In a large green area one can
pick out old houses roofed with red tiles along
narrow streets and a central square alive with visitors
and sightseers come to pass the weekend far from
the noise and pollution of the large towns.
There is much that is old to be seen in Bkasseen.
There is the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance built
in 1855 and the Church of Saint Thecla, considered
one of the most beautiful in Lebanon. Bkasseen took
first prize for conserving its past in a competition
organized by the National Heritage Foundation. There
are old houses, olive presses, ancient bridges and
Several springs water the region, Ain al-Mashtal,
Ain al-Bsateen, and others, and Mount Tora adds
its grace. As for the flora, this is unique, with
flowers of every possible color and kind thrusting
up in their thousands. There is a school, a town
hall, private medical consulting rooms, and all
the infrastructure of a modern town.
A weekend spent in this region is an idyll not to
Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: