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Hasbaya, Hasbani River Hasbaya Palace, Built in 1173 by the Crusadors
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Lebanon - Hasbaya


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Hasbaya History

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.

Hasbaya Overview

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.

Eight kilometers 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.

Although 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 Tourism

Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

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