Hasbeya or Hasbeiya
(Arabic: حاصبيا) is a
town in Lebanon, situated about 36 miles to the west of Damascus, at the
foot of Mount Hermon, overlooking a deep amphitheatre from which a brook
flows to the Hasbani.
In 1911, the
population was about 5000. Both sides of the valley were planted in terraces
with olives, vines and other fruit trees. The grapes were either dried or
made into a kind of syrup.
In 1846, an American
Protestant mission was established in the town. This little community
suffered much persecution at first from the Greek Church, and afterwards
from the Druses. The castle in Hasbeya was held by the crusaders under Count
Oran but in 1171 the Druse emirs of the great Shebb family recaptured it. In
1205 this family was confirmed in the lordship of the town and district,
which they held till the Turkish authorities took possession of the castle
in the 19th century.
Near Hasbeya were
bitumen pits let by the government; and to the north, at the source of the
Hasbani, the ground is volcanic. Some travelers have attempted to identify
Hasbeya with the biblical Baal-Gad or Baal-Hermon.
The town of Hasbaya is
the center of the Caza and can be reached from Marjeyun across the Hasbani
bridge. It is one of the most important and oldest towns of the Mount Hermon
area. This mountain peak, also called Jabal al Sheikh, rises east of
Hasbaya. The town is watered by a small tributary of the Hasbani River.
Hasbaya is an
important historical site, but little of its ancient monuments survive. The
oldest standing ruins date to the Crusader period. After the conquest of the
area by the Shehabs in 1173, they fortified the square tower of the Crusader
fort and transformed it into a big palace similar to Italian palaces and
citadels of the Renaissance. On both sides of its main entrance is the lion,
the emblem of the Shehab family. The upper floor has 65 rooms, and the
largest is decorated with beautiful wall paintings. The mosque was built in
the 13th century and has a beautiful hexagonal minaret.
Hasbaya keeps its
traditions alive and its workshops are still producing traditional clothing
such as abayas, caftans and turbans.
Leave Hasbaya and
drive in the direction of Marjeyun. After 3 km, you reach Souk al Khan,
which is located inside a pine forest at the crossing of Hasbaya, Rashaya,
Kawkaba and Marjeyun roads. There lies the ruins of an old khan where Ali,
son of Fakhreddin Maan, is said to have been killed. In this khan, a popular
weekly market held very Tuesday is visited by traders and visitors from all
over the area. Near this site flows the Hasbani, a tributary of the Jordan
River, which is presently under Israeli Control. On the banks of this river
are scattered outdoor restaurants serving delicious Lebanese food and trout.
From Souk al Khan
drive 6 km to the south-east and come to Rashaya a Fukkhar, a village famous
for its pottery production. From there continue on the road to Habbariye, in
the midst of vineyards and orchards. Near the village, on the slopes of
Mount Hermon lie the ruins of a Roman temple. A rectangular building 17 x 9
m, some of its walls are preserved to a height of 8 meters. Continue to the
village of Shebaa famous for its caves, springs and breathtaking scenery.
north-east of Hasbaya is the village of Mimes. From there the visitor goes
to the most famous religious center of the Druze community: the al Bayyada
praying halls, where thousands of Druze believers come each Thursday night
to pray and to meditate. The compound is made up of 40 halls or khalwat
which have deliberately been left unrestored.
From al Bayyada, go
north to the villages of al Kfayr and Nabi Shit where lie the ruins of an
old temple, oil presses, stone basins and a rock-cut tomb believed to be
that of the founder of the Druze faith, Muhammad ben Ismail al Darazi.
these wines are sometimes found in the United States and Canada, it is far
easier to buy them when visiting London. Best stores for finding the wines
of Chateau Musar are Waitrose, Tanners, Majestic Wine and Adnams. The wines
of Kefraya and Ksara are more difficult to find but are sometimes available
at Tanners and Adnams.
Information From the Ministry of