Published: July 10th 2012July 9th 2012
Wow, today was simply incredible!!! Joanna's cousin Samer took us site seeing today. This is going to be a long blog so sit down and get comfy. We saw a lot today and I have much to tell. =)
We drove up into the area of the Keserwan Mountain, a popular place for skiing in the winter. As we drove higher and higher, the scorching heat of the coast gave way to a cooler breeze. Soon we left the oak trees behind and the more barren rocky mountains greeted us. Off in the distance snow was still to be seen in the highest peaks. The first stop along the way were the Faqra ruins. The ruins include The Big Temple, Big Tower, The Altar, The Shrine and Atargatis. The exact origins of the structures is somewhat unknown, but texts indicate that they were built over a period of time dating back to King Solomon's era (9th Century B.C.) The Big Tower was built in 43AD for the Roman emporer, Tiberius Claudius. Although only small parts of the original structures exist today, they are quite impressive. The ruins are surrounded by natural dolomite rock structures which adds an element of mystisism
to the ruins. As we walked through the Big Temple, I couldn't help but marvel at all the stories those stones could tell if they were able. I wondered at the people who had lived at the hight of the temples time, who had laughed, cried and lived within its walls; who had lived to see its crumble. It simply was incredible to see them. I was saddned, however, by the litter that was left among the ruins, particularily on the top of The Big Tower. It is unfortunate that litter marrs the beauty of the ruins (although, only a little). From the top of the ruins, we had an amazing view of the surrounding countryside. How gorgeous! Off in the distance from the Big Temple, we could hear the rushing water of the rivers el Laban and el Asal.
From there our journey continued on through the Faqra Club, a private complex for the wealthy of Lebanon, the politicians. Rose filled medians decorated the streets, the houses were huge and beautiful. The complex boasts it's own mall, ski resort and more. We had to drive through the Faqra Club to get to the tallest cross in the world.
Located in Baskenta, the cross stands about 246 feet tall. Construction began in 2008 and is almost complete. Plans are in the works to build a church in the horizontal section of the cross. Standing next to it certainly made Joanna and I feel like tiny little ants. From there we drove on to the Stone Bridge, a natural stone arch bridge crosssing the river el Laban. The arch is about 125 feet across and 190 feet tall.
The last stop on our exploration was the Chabrouh Dam. It was built in 2002 on the Oued Chabrouh River. No cars are allowed near the dam, so it was quite a hike to the top, but well worth it. The water in the lake was such a beautiful turquoise! What an incredible view.
After all that walking, we had worked up an appetite and closed out the day with lunch at a small shop. We enjoyed Sajj (basically a wheat/cornmeal type dough baked on a bubble like skillet.). We had one topped with cheese, another topped with Keshek (a dairy product) and another topped with ground beef, tomatoe and spices. We then journeyed back to the heat of the
coast. What a great day it was!!! =)
There are more photos below