Trip of the Romaian Cultural Society to Tripoli in May 2016

On the 10th of May 2016, the Social Committee of the Romaïan Cultural society organized a cultural and recreational trip to Northern Lebanon, the visit of the city of Tripoli being its most important part. Thirty-six members of the society and some of their friends participated in the trip. The latter started, in the morning, in Achrafieh district (Beirut) from where the group set out towards the North to stop for a while at the Bread House restaurant to have breakfast, and to continue the journey directly to the capital of North Lebanon, Tripoli.
The participants went first to St. George Orthodox Cathedral, then to the ancient Church of St. Nicholas, where they were received by the parish priest who explained to them the history of the church and revealed to them its most important relics, icons and treasures. Later on, they went to the Romaïan Orthodox Archdiocese of Tripoli, where they met H. E. Metropolitan K.K. Ephrem (Kyriakos), received his blessing, and discussed with him issues concerning the Romaïan Christian presence in Tripoli and North Lebanon.

The delegation resumed its tour and visited the famous and robust Citadel of Tripoli, which rises on a hill overlooking the city and the nearby Abu Ali River (called also Qadisha). This citadel was built by the Crusaders, then, in the following centuries, successive Islamic states ruled over it. Today, it is a major destination for tourists visiting Tripoli. From the castle, the visitors descended to the nearby Khan al-Sabun (Soap Market) where they explored the traditional saponification methods that Tripoli is famous for. Among the most important and still active workshops in this market is the Badr Hassoun Factory, which introduced modern methods and new forms to this ancient industry.

At about 2 pm, the group of visitors went to Zgharta district, and had lunch at Jisr Rachi’in Restaurant, which is located in a beautiful natural site, on the bank of the Rachi’in River, which was actively flowing in the month of May. Lunch was an opportunity for acquaintance, dialogue and rest after the long and tiring morning tour.
The tour was completed, late in the afternoon, by passing through the district of Koura, where the group stopped at the Monastery of Our Lady of Bkeftin, located on the outskirts of the district towards Tripoli. This monastery includes, in addition to its male monastic order, a famous school belonging to the Romaïan Orthodox Diocese of Tripoli. This school was founded in the nineteenth century, and was, at that time, a law institute that graduated a large number of Tripoli jurists, writers and thinkers.
This May 2016 trip was distinguished by the many places it visited, and can be described as a cultural and religious trip par excellence because it included important religious, historical and archaeological sites and revealed the secrets of an ancient local industry that is almost forgotten.

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