"QUANTUM SHOT" #481 Article by Rachel and Avi Abrams, link
Outside of wars and politics: Lebanon's natural beauty is second to none
"Switzerland" comparison does not exactly come to mind when you consider how war-torn and miserable this nation has been in the recent years. But cast a longer look around you while visiting this incredible spot in the Middle East - and the ancient, spectacular beauty of the place will start to haunt you, bless you, and lift you above political agendas and human strife.
Those who still remember times of peace before the Civil War (1975-1990) would say that comparison with Switzerland is not so far fetched. Many banks made home there and the cultural diversity and color was simply astounding. Combine it with natural grandeur, and there you have it - something to be treasured in the heart of anyone who experienced it.
In this article we only going to show the nature side, but trust us - the cuisine and intense culture of the region is still vibrant and unforgettable today.
Landscapes of Biblical Proportions
Pascal Beaudenon shows the epic qualities of Lebanon's landscape. With his exclusive permission here are the highlights: Denniye and Aqqar valleys, Aamiq region, Mount Lebanon's range, Junipers of Mount Aammar, The Pigeons Grotto, Batrun area beach:
The fascination and beauty of Lebanon has historically lured many visitors to its mountain slopes and coasts. The name "Lebanon" is a very ancient name, which comes from an Aramaic root which means "white", probably referring to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Lebanon. The mountains of Lebanon have been split into two ranges, separated by the Great Rift Valley (which stretches into Africa) with the valley of Beqaa in between.
Solomon considered these trees worthy of the Temple
The famous Cedar of Lebanon grows high on the mountain slopes; forests at lower altitudes consist more of oak and pine. The cedar groves are mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Bible, the Talmud and other ancient writings; the resin has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The wood was prized for building & used in such structures as the Temple of Solomon and the palaces of David and Solomon.
"The most famous cedars, known as Arz el Rab or Cedars of the Lord, are those of Bsharre. Only this grove, the oldest in Lebanon, gives an accurate idea of the stature and magnificence these trees attained in antiquity. About 375 cedars of great age stand in a sheltered glacial pocket of Mount Makmel." (source)
Another preserve is found on the northwest hills of Mount Lebanon, called Horsh Ehden. This forest is home to a great number of unique plants, 10 of which are endemic to this nature reserve alone. Another one is found in the Chouf District of Lebanon, on the slopes of Barouk mountain, called the Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve. It covers over 5% of Lebanon's total territory.
Barouk Cedars in the Chouf region, photo by habeeb.com
Even though such cedars can be found in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus, overall forest volume has been greatly depleted, and active restoration and conservation of the remaining cedar forests is of utmost priority. An interesting pine forest in Jezzine, South Lebanon:
The mountains in Lebanon are made up chiefly of limestone, which makes them riddled with caves and underground rivers. Some 9 km of passages can be found in the Jeita Grotto; boat tours of the underground lake begin at a waterfall and take you into a wonderland of cave formations:
Some of these aquifers spring up in the Bekaa Valley, which is near the border with Syria. They feed the Aammiq wetland, which is the largest remaining freshwater wetland in Lebanon. Bekaa Valley is also home to many wineries:
Streams in the desert... human kindness vs. cold strife
So much of the land has seen the suffering; so much of this land still blooms and brings joy, faithfully providing reast for the weary traveller... Baakleen river falls - with its Zarka pool (gorgeous color):
From a neat photo collection "A Window on Lebanon" by Natasha Tynes:
No wonder this land abounds in castles: so many armies passed and fought here throughout the ages... See for example the site of this Beaufort Castle - "Crusaders, Saladin, Arabs, Mamelukes, Ottomans, Palestinians, Israelis, Hezbollah have fought over this piece of rock"
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