The Social Committee of the Romaïan Cultural Society continued to organize cultural, religious and recreational trips during the year 2015, and chose two regions of Lebanon known for their rich Romaïan cultural heritage and their picturesque natural and religious monuments. The organization of the two trips to these areas came within the framework of achieving one of the goals of the Society, which is “to explore the Romaïan cultural heritage of Lebanon, the Levant and the world”.
These trips were organized by the Social Committee headed by Mr. Nicolas Mokbel assisted by Mrs. Mireille Geahchan and Mr. Said Khairallah and under the direct supervision and approval of the Administrative Board of the Society.
The first trip took place on August 22, 2015, headed to the Chouf region, specifically to the city of Deir el-Qamar, and later moved to the city of Jezzine in Southern Lebanon. On the way back, the group visited the Monastery of the Holy Savior near the town of Joun. Thirty-five persons, members of the society, their friends, and some of the parishioners of St. Catherine Church (Zahret el-Ihsan) in Beirut participated in the trip.
In Deir al-Qamar, the group visited four of the city’s churches, namely the Maronite Church of Our Lady of the Hill, the Romaïan Catholic Churches of Mar Elias and Our Lady of the Poor, and the Romaïan Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Deliverance, all of which are ancient churches dating back several centuries. After visiting the churches, the group toured the town square, and observed the ancient palaces that were built during the eras of the Maanite and the Chehabite emirates, then visited the famous wax museum, which contains a large number of wax statues representing senior politicians, government officials, religious and cultural personalities of Lebanon.
The participants in the trip then moved to the city of Jezzine, the capital of the district that bears its name, and they had lunch, at noon, at Al-Hirsh Restaurant located near the famous Jezzine Waterfall. After lunch, they toured the markets of Jezzine, and visited the famous handicrafts factory, well reputed in Lebanon and abroad, and had the opportunity of shopping traditional handicrafts. On their way back to Beirut, the delegation headed to the Holy Savior Monastery, which is located on a hill above the southern Chouf coast, whose construction and foundation date back to the early eighteenth century. The convent has a wonderful view of the Chouf coast and of the lush green orchards surrounding it.
The monastery includes a museum documenting its ancient history, and presenting photos of the bishops and abbots who managed it during the last three centuries. The old church of the monastery has preserved its original Romaïan heritage, most specifically the iconostasis and the precious icons.
The second trip took place on October 24th , 2015, and headed to the Koura region in Northern Lebanon. Fifty people participated in the trip, led by Archimandrite Seraphim (Bardawil), the pastor of St. Catherine’s Church and an honorary member of the Society.
The trip began with a short stop at Madfoun Bridge, where the group consumed a quick breakfast before moving on to the Monastery of Our Lady of Kaftoun in the El-Quwaitea area.
This monastery, in which several Orthodox nuns reside, is famous for its church that hosts a double-face icon dating back to the eleventh century. Next to the monastery building, on the bank of the Joz River, is located the church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus dating back to the sixth century, and that is well known for its ancient painted walls.
Later on, the visitors spent most of their day touring the coastal town of Enfeh, which dates back to the ancient Phoenician era. This town is inhabited by a majority of Romaïan Orthodox population, and is famous for its old and small fishing port. Next to the old port, there are three ancient Romaian churches, the Church of Our Lady of the Wind, which dates back to the early Christian centuries, and the churches of St. Catherine and St. Simeon, both built by the Crusaders and still revealing their Middle Ages architecture. As for the city center, it hosts the Church of St. George, rebuilt in the twentieth century.
The group toured the center of Enfeh and its narrow streets, and immersed itself in the daily life of the town. In the early afternoon, the trip ended with a visit to Lake Bnachii, located at the slope of the district of Zgharta and surrounded by cafes and restaurants, before moving to Jisr-Rashein Restaurant, near the city of Zgharta, for lunch and recreation.