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  Nabatiye Region

To go to Nabatiye, drive from Sidon to Zahrani, TMsayleh, Zefta, Dayr Zahrani, and Habbush. Nabatiye is the most important town of the Jabal Amel area and the chief center of both the mohafazat and the caza. Nabatiye enjoys an important econom­ic and cultural position.

Every Monday is market day and traders and vis­itors from neighboring villages gather in the city cen­ter to exchange their goods. In Nabatiye are branches of several banks, hospitals, restaurants and cultural and touristic clubs, like the al Shqif Club. Every year Nabatiye commemorates the Battle of Karbala to remember the martyrdom of Imam al Husayn. On this occasion, tens of thousands of visitors, mainly of the Shiite community, come to participate in this religious ceremony.

Nabatiye is the hometown of several learned men of international re-known. The theologian, Sheikh Aref al Zein, and the scientist, Kamal al Sabbah, are among the most famous. Nabatiye has two historic mosques: the first one was built in the 16th century and lies in the town center; and the second one, known as "the Mosque of the Prophet", dates to the Mamluk period and is located in Nabatiye al Fawqa.

Arnun lies 7 kilometers southeast of Nabatiye. On top of a hill overlooking the whole area and controlling the. road linking the southern Beqaa to Damascus stands a fortress known to Arab travelers as Shqif Arnun, Shqif being a Syriac term meaning high rock. Western travelers call it Belfort or Beaufort. At first sight, it seems inaccessible, but it can be easily reached from the village of Arnun. In front of the fortress the visitor will see a large water cistern and the ruins of an ancient village contemporary with the citadel. There is no direct evidence of the building date or the builder of this castle. According to William of Tyre, it was erected by the Crusaders, but some scholars are of the opinion that it is older. It has been suggested that the monument was already standing when the Crusaders arrived.  It has also been argued that it was first built in the Late Roman or Byzantine period, later restored and enlarged by the Arabs. The Crusaders restructured and fortified it and it became the most important fortress in Lebanon. The Crusader king, Foulques d'Anjou, conquered it from the ruler of Damascus and gave it to the Crusader rulers of Sidon in 1138. Salaheddin besieged it for two years and was able to storm it in 1140. The Crusaders regained control of the citadel in 119 0 after they had signed an agreement with Al Salih Ismail, ruler of Damascus. In 1260, it was bought by the Templars from the Sidonian prince and it remained their property until its conquest in 1268 by the Mamluk Sultan, Al Zahir Baybars. The Templars: built there a small fort called Chateau Neuf Fakhreddin restored and fortified it at the beginning of the 17th century, but the governor of Damascus, Hafez Pasha, besieged it and partly destroyed it with his artillery.

The restoration of the monument was initiated by the Lebanese Directorate of Antiquities in the late 1970's but it soon had to stop because of repeated Israeli bombardments. The Crusader castle has been under Israeli occupation since 1982. The fortress lies on a 700 m high rocky mound. Its plan had to follow the relief and topography of the site and resulted in a quasi-rectangular shape. To the east, it overlooks the 300m deep Litani River valley. On the other three sides, it is surrounded by a moat. In spite of its very bad state of preservation, some of its elements are still standing and easy to identify. On both ends of its well ­preserved southern wall rise two beautiful towers. The wall is built on top of a glacis covered with flat stones and covering all the rocky platform on which the fort stands. The monument originally had three stories, but the third one has been totally destroyed.

The main entrance leads to the ground floor and is located on the eastern side of the building. It is pro­tected by three towers, on top of which a large num­ber of fighters could stand. In the southeastern corner is a second entrance leading to the upper floor and, finally, a third entrance in the southwestern angle sur­mounted by machicolations leads to the center of the main courtyard. Inside, the castle is almost complete­ly ruined and only the eastern wall, entrance and staircase of a big tower in the middle of the western side survive. On the eastern side is a 13th century vaulted building, either a church or an assembly hall. On the northern side are the remains of two towers and of a large cistern which occupies part of the moat surrounding the fortress.

Iqlim al Tuffah

From Nabatiye, drive north to the district of Iqlim al Tuffah or Apple District, so called because of apple­ and other fruit-tree plantations. Leave the Nabatiye crossing in the direction of Mr Rumman, 2 kilo­meters north of Nabatiye. Continue to Arabsalim (10 km) and Jarjuh (12 km) where remains of old water canalizations from the Roman period and ancient historic caves are found. These hydraulic installations carried the water to Sidon and vicinity and are called by the locals "the Zenobia channels".

On the hill slopes east of the village are abundant water springs, the most famous being Nabeh al Tase which is surrounded by outdoor restaurants and cof­fee-shops. Seventeen kilometers from Nabatiye is Ayn Abu Swar, where the tourist can visit mineral water springs and enjoy lovely promenades and outdoor restaurants. The next village is Jbaa (17 km), where one can admire the ruins of an old monastery and Roman tombs. Around the abundant water sources of the village are fruit-tree plantations and a large number of nice outdoor restaurants. Note that you can also go to Jbaa following the Sidon-Kfarhatta-Kfarmelki­Kfarfila road.

Northwest of Nabatiye lies the village of Habbush (4 km) meaning "jail" in -Syriac. East of the village, rock-cut tombs with reliefs have been found. Continue to Dayr al Zahrani (8 km) * The old watchtower that once stood here is reduced to few stones, but one can still see the ancient stone grape presses. From Dayr al Zahrani, one can return to Sidon.

Al Kfur, al Dwayr, Ansar

Four kilometers west of Nabatiye is the attractive village of al Kfur. In the lower part of town a road leads to a hill where there are some Crusader and other remains in very poor condition.

In al Rways, there is an ancient stone-cut water cistern, but this has been temporarily covered over by the villagers. Continue southwest from al Kfur to the village of Tul and come to al Dwayr (8 km). In the

village on the al Jalili Square high on a hill stands the old Mausoleum of Wali Tamim, one of the most famous shrines in the area. From here there is an excellent view extending down to the sea. A few kilo­meters north of al Dwayr is Sharquieh village, site of the 600-year-old tomb or maqam of Nebi Jaleel. The exterior of the large building has been restored.

West of al Dwayr is the village of Ansar (14 km) known for its caves, springs and nice scenery. From Ansar, go back to the Sidon-Tyre coastal road.

If you’re planning on spending a day in Nabatieh, we recommend you pass by the Sheqif Country Club: A 3-floor club in the heart of Nabatieh, with a volleyball and basketball court, a garden and a children’s playground. On the first floor, you will find a restaurant and cafeteria open to all, members and guests. On the second floor, a spacious conference room has been arranged to suit the needs of all, and another room is available for any type of leisure activity to suit a younger crowd (snooker and ping pong available). On the third floor, you will find a library and cozy reading rooms. The Sheqif Country Club is known for its support to cultural events: many art exhibitions and poetry readings take place there.

Telephone: 961.7.760711 – Fax: 961.7.762817.

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