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Article by: zgharta.com team - - art. ID:524

We were very proud to be asked by William Matar, the owner of Discover Lebanon, to write the introduction on his website for the section relating to Ehden. The idea of the website is to feature 360-degree, panoramic style, mini movies of the hundreds of places of interest in Lebanon. The website is daily adding sections and we were pleased that we were able to help in ensuring that Ehden was one of the first sections to be completed. At present there are two panoramic mini movies of Ehden, with more to follow. It’s as if you are standing in Ehden when you view them. We hope that surfers on the web looking for places to visit will find the views of Ehden irresistible and will flock to Ehden. It is important that Ehden appears on as many tourist sites as possible.


Artist Matar and his son in front of the statue of Youssef Bey Karam

William is a Lebanese lawyer in Beirut whose great love for Lebanon and art combines in what he describes as almost his second career of owning websites dedicated to his great loves. In August we were pleased to show William and his father Joseph, the sights of Ehden and some of the panoramic photographs taken then now appear on his new website.

His website, Lebanon Art was one of the first of its kind, celebrating the paintings and poetry of his father, Joseph Matar. This led him to create another website dedicated to past and contemporary Lebanese artists, One Fine Art His next venture was Lebanon Postcard , which seeks to promote Lebanese tourism and provides an online souk for Lebanese gifts, books and postcards.

Click here to see the entry and the panoramic photographs.

On Wednesday, 19th October 2005 Joseph had the honour of being featured on the pre 8pm news slot on LBCI. The slot, which is for a few minutes, is very popular and covers a wide range of subjects and features both past and living eminent Lebanese.

Below is the text of the introduction for Ehden:

North Lebanon:Zgharta:EHDEN

The historic village of Ehden is located in the mountains of North Lebanon, some 1450 metres above sea level (4757 feet). It is 120 kilometres from the capital, Beirut (74.5 miles); 30 kilometres from the coastal city of Tripoli (18.6 miles) and 23 kilometres from its sister town of Zgharta (14.2 miles).

The origins of its name are obscured by time and myth; one explanation is that it is derived from the biblical Eden. Mankind has lived in the area for thousands of years. Some early texts mention that those living in the area Ehden came from the descendants of the tribe of Samuel, the son of Noah. In 850 BC, it is recorded that the Aramaic-Syriac King Hadd Azzar came to Ehden and raised a statue to their god known as "Baal Loubnan" or " The God of Snow". Four hundred years later, Slokos, a commander in Alexander the Great army, came to Ehden, and a group of Macedonians settled there, building a temple and statue of " The god of Sun”.

From its pagan past it became the cradle of Christianity in Lebanon. The many churches of Ehden are a living testament to the history of the people of the area and their faith since the early beginning of Christianity. Mar (Saint) Mama’s Church is the oldest Maronite church in Lebanon built in 749 AD on the site of a pagan temple. The Church incorporates some of the stones from the pagan temple. The village of Ehden is watched over by the mountaintop Church of the Lady of the Fortress (Our Lady of Al-Hosn). There has been a Church on the mountain since early times. In 1989 the present modernistic church was consecrated and is a landmark for the whole North. Ehden has many old houses and buildings, still inhabited by the current generation of the original family, some using the stones of the pagan temple. The old souk (market place) is a popular destination for visitors to Ehden, who can see the work of the local artisana.

Beside its many historic churches, monasteries and buildings, Ehden has throughout its history contributed to the religious, political and culture life of Lebanon. It has produced religious leaders, academicians, nationalist leaders, artists and presidents. Among them are Patriarch Youhanna Makhlouf 1608-1633) Maronite Patriarch; Patriarch George Oumayra, (1633-1644), Maronite Patriarch, called the “Light of the Oriental” being an expert on Orient languages; Gibrael Al Sahyouni (1577 –1648), academic, author of a polyglot bible, official translator to King Louis XIII of France, his statue stands in Ehden; Patriarch Stephane Doueihi (1630-1704), maronite patriarch and considered to be the “father of Maronite history”; Germanos Farhat (1670 – 1732), author of a influential book on Arabic grammar; Youssef Bey Karam (1823 – 1889), Lebanese nationalist, his body lies in St George’s Church, and his statue nearby is a landmark of Ehden; Saliba Doueihi (1909-1994) world renown artist; President Sleiman Kabalan Frangieh (1910- 1992), President of Lebanon; President Rene Mouawad (1925-1989), President of Lebanon.

Ehden is not only a place of history it is also a place of today. Tourists are welcomed and well provided for with hotels, restaurants and café trotoire’s. In the centre of Ehden is the Al Midan, a square, wherein lies many cafés, bars and nightclubs. In the cool of the evening under the stars café society continues late into the early morning. The lingua franca of Ehden is French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, evidence of the Lebanese Diaspora. During the summer there are cultural and eco tourist activities such as painting exhibitions, film festival and nature treks. It is also known for its traditional dishes such as the meat dish, Kibbeh Nayyeh and salad, tabbouleh, which has become internationally famous and part of the world’s cuisine.

For the visitor, Ehden is ideally placed for other tourist centres, the Horsh Ehden (meaning the Forest of Ehden), a nature reserve; the Qozhaya Valley (Holy Valley), which has cave chapels, monasteries and hermitages. The Monastery of St Anthony the Great, possesses the first printing press in the Middle East, installed in 1584; Kornet al Sawda (Black Horn) Middle East’s highest mountain (3088 metres above sea level [10,132 feet]) and the Cedars, where the last cedars of a great cedar forest can be seen, which becomes a skiing resort in winter.

Ehden is a place where the seasons of the year are distinct, with their own colours, rhythms and customs. Traditionally the people of Ehden, having settled Zgharta in the 16th Century and which is now the administrative centre of the district, use to come down to its sister town at autumn time for the warmer winter weather. Returning to Ehden in the early summer to enjoy its cooler climate. These days with better road communications, Ehden enjoys an increasing winter season, with many snow sport activities.

As another citizen of Ehden, Jawad Boulos (1900-1982), founder member of the Lebanese Academy, said “Ehden brings energy to my body and clarity to my mind and pleasure to my soul”.

Ehden is a place where you meet history and enjoy what is best in Lebanon.

(Authorship: zgharta.com)