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Zahlé

Zahlé (Arabic:زحلة‎) is the capital and the largest city of Beqaa Governorate, Lebanon. With around 150,000 inhabitants, it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon and the fourth largest taking the whole urban area (the Jounieh urban area is larger).

Zahlé
زحله
Zahlé
Location in Lebanon
Coordinates:33°50′N35°55′E /33.833°N 35.917°E /33.833; 35.917Coordinates: 33°50′N35°55′E /33.833°N 35.917°E /33.833; 35.917
CountryLebanon
GovernorateBeqaa Governorate
DistrictZahlé District
Government
• MayorAsaad Zoghaib
Area
City8 km2 (3 sq mi)
• Metro
40 km2 (20 sq mi)
Highest elevation
1,150 m (3,780 ft)
Lowest elevation
900 m (2,953 ft)
Population
City100,000
Metro
300,000
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postcode
1801
Area code(s)8

Zahlé is located 55 km (34 mi) east of the capital Beirut, close to the Beirut-Damascus road, and lies at the junction of the Lebanon mountains and the Beqaa plateau, at a mean elevation of 1,000 m. Zahlé is known as the "Bride of the Beqaa" and "the Neighbor of the Gorge" for its geographical location and attractiveness, but also as "the City of Wine and Poetry".Zahle is called "Dar el Salam" which means home of peace[citation needed]. It is famous throughout Lebanon and the region for its pleasant climate, numerous riverside restaurants and quality arak. Its inhabitants are predominantly Greek Catholic and are known in Arabic as Zahlawi.

Contents

Zahlé in the 19th century

The name Zahlé is a Syriac[better source needed] wordthat refers to "moving places"[citation needed]. The occasional landslides that take place on deforested hills around the town are probably at the origin of the name.

There has been human activity in the area for at least 5000 years. In the 18th century, Zahlé was a small village of some 200 houses. Its relative geographic isolation from the local centres of power in Mount Lebanon and Syria caused the village not to have any significant allies in the region to fall back on in case of conflicts or attacks. Zahlé was burned in 1777 and 1791.[citation needed]

Tradition holds that many Christians quit the Baalbek region in the 18th century for the newer, more secure town of Zahlé on account of the Harfush dynasty's oppression and rapacity, but more critical studies have questioned that interpretation by pointing out that the dynasty was closely allied to the Orthodox Ma‘luf family of Zahlé (where Mustafa Harfush took refuge some years later) and showing that depredations from various quarters as well as Zahlé's growing commercial attractiveness accounted for Baalbek's decline in the 18th century. What repression there was did not always target the Christian community per se. The Shiite ‘Usayran family, for example, is also said to have left Baalbek then to avoid expropriation by the Harfushes and established itself as one of the premier commercial households of Sidon and later even served as consuls of Iran.

At the end of the 18th century, Zahlé had one thousand inhabitants and two hundred houses. By 1820, Zahlé's population had grown to 5,000. By 1850 it was 7 to 8,000 and the town had become the commercial centre for the Beka'a and main depot for the local grain harvest. Some of the factors for the expansion included the Egyptian Occupation (1831-1841), which lead to the opening of the country to European trade, the Crimean War which had caused grain shortages in Europe and the expansion of silk production in Mount Lebanon.

Besides controlling the grain trade Zahlé became a centre for livestock from Greater Syria and produced leather, woven and dyed goods, trading with Aleppo, Damascus and Beirut. By the 1860s and 1870s the local merchants were prosperous but were still dependent on banks in Beirut for credit for their transactions.

The current population is not accurately known, since no census has been conducted in Lebanon since 1932, but a sensible estimate gives 60,000 people in the town proper,[citation needed] making it the country's fourth largest (the locals tend to give figures of 200,000 or 300,000 inhabitants, which however are misleading and completely unrealistic). The urban area includes the neighbouring towns of Saadnayel, Taalabaya, Chtaura and Jdita to the Southwest, which have come to form a single urban entity since the late 1990s due to unplanned growth, and is home to about 100,000 people. The metropolitan area extends over much of the Zahlé District and additionally comprises:

  • the town of Kab Elias to the Southwest
  • the town of Bar Elias to the South
  • the villages of Furzol, Ablah and Niha to the Northeast
  • and the towns of Riyaq, Haoush Hala and Ali en Nahri to the East

with a total population close to 200,000.

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Zahlé is the largest[discuss] predominantly Christian town in Lebanon and the Middle East (with Christians forming around 90% of its total population) and the one with the largest number of Catholics.[1][better source needed] While several Middle Eastern cities (including Damascus, Cairo and Amman) have larger Christian communities, these do not constitute a majority. In Lebanon, Beirut also has a larger Christian population than Zahlé (in the city proper), but most of this population belongs to the Greek Orthodox confession.

The Christian population of Zahlé has the following approximate composition:

Only two Muslim families remained inside Zahlé during the civil war: Hindi and Zrein. Zahlé's Muslim minority (around 10% of the population) is concentrated in the districts of Karak Nuh (where Noah's tomb is allegedly located) and Haoush al-Umara specifically in an area named "Hay al-watani", on the northeastern and southwestern edge of town respectively. 70% of Muslims in the area are Shia, while the remaining 30% are Sunnis. In the past the town also had a Druze minority and even a small Jewish population, most of which however emigrated during the Lebanese Civil War.

Religion in Zahlé, Lebanon

Shia (7%)
Sunni (3%)
Other Christian Minorities (9%)

Zahlé has been a land of emigration since the early 19th century, with most people emigrating to South America, mainly Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. During the Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s, a new flow of migrants left the town for the United States, Canada, Australia and Brazil. In recent years, emigration has continued, with Canada and the United Arab Emirates being the main destinations. Today, an estimated 250,000 people of local descent live abroad, most of them in Colombia and Brazil.

Zahle grapes

Being the main town of the Beqaa valley, Lebanon's most important agricultural region, the economy of Zahlé has long been built on agriculture. Grapes are the area's chief product, with vineyards forming a prominent feature of the surrounding landscape. Vines are also individually grown on lattice, on many of the older houses' terraces. A sizable part of the local produce supplies the three wineries present in and around the town, and the numerous distilleries producing arak, the local liquor which Zahlé is famous for.

Zahlé saw at a time a prosperous commercial activity due to its location midway between Beirut and Damascus. Paradoxically, it regained some of that activity during the Civil War, when the growing instability in Beirut led to a decentralization of the economy. Furthermore, taxation was nonexistent due to the collapse of State authority, which Zahlé took advantage of to expand its industrial and commercial sectors.[citation needed] The town's main industrial area lies to the Southeast, with the chief sectors being paper mills, chemicals, plastics, canning and food processing.[citation needed]

A number of companies and state bodies have their headquarters for the Beqaa region in Zahlé, including the Central Bank of Lebanon and the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce.

Zahlé is evolving into a regional center of higher education, after many universities have opened branches there in recent years. Institutes of higher education currently represented in the town include:

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by . Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.(April 2017) ()

Zahlé is connected to Beirut (55 km (34 mi) to the West), and from there to all coastal cities, through the Beirut-Damascus road, which passes to the Southwest of the urban area. The journey can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the traffic. Damascus, Syria, is 73 km (45 mi) to the Southeast, and is normally reached within 1:30 hour, excluding the waiting time at the border. Despite continuously undergoing works and repairs, the Beirut-Damascus road remains in poor condition, and is due to be replaced by a new, multimillion-dollar highway as the main international route,[citation needed] however the completion date is still unclear.

Zahlé is also connected to Baalbek (36 km (22 mi) to the Northeast) by the trans-Beqaa road, which continues further North towards Homs, Syria. The section stretching along the Zahlé urban area (from Chtaura to Karak Nuh) was recently upgraded.

Due to widespread car ownership, public transportation remains underdeveloped. There is a single bus line, which runs on the central avenue at rather irregular times. Interurban transportation is done by minivans, which stop on the Manara roundabout at the town's entrance. Zahlé's railway station was located in Muallaqa, but was abandoned after all rail transport in Lebanon stopped during the Civil War.

There were plans to convert the nearby Rayak Air Base (located 10 km (6 mi) to the East of Zahlé), into a civil airport serving the town and the whole valley. A regional airport could prove vital when the road to Beirut is closed because of heavy snowfall. However, the project froze in the early 2000s, after the runway extension had been initiated.

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Berdawni Promenade

Cafes along the Berdawni River

The banks of the Berdawni River have long been a place where people of Zahlé and other parts of Lebanon[citation needed] come to socialize. The town's most popular attraction is a 300 m (984 ft) promenade along the river, referred to as "Al Wadi" ("the valley"). Sheltered between the ravine's limestone cliffs, it is lined up with large outdoor restaurants, cafes and playrooms, and shaded by trees. These restaurants specialize in traditional Lebanese meze served with arak. The promenade is closed during late fall and winter, when cold winds from the mountain sweep through the ravine.

Casino-arabi

Our Lady of Zahlé and Bekaa

Our Lady of Zahlé and Bekaa. Taken in the 1970s

Located on a hilltop to the Southwest of Zahlé, this is a 54 m (177 ft) high concrete tower, entirely clad in white marble, and topped with a 10 m (33 ft) high bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, the work of an Italian artist. It is by far Zahlé's most prominent structure, it is visible from most of the city and from several miles around in the central Bekaa Valley. At its base is a chapel that can seat a little over a hundred people. The top of the tower features sweeping views over Zahlé and the Bekaa valley.

Town Hall (Old Serail)

The Old Serail, turned into the prison of Zahlé in 1991, serves today as the town hall

This Ottoman building was constructed in 1850 to serve as the town's Serail. Located just downhill from Our Lady of Zahlé and Bekaa, it is a mix of local and Ottoman architecture, and features an atrium occupied by an inner garden and surrounded by arcades. Though still known as "the Old Serail", it currently serves as the Town Hall. In the past, the ground floor used to house the local prison, which suffered of severe overcrowding and substandard conditions. The prison was transferred in 2009 to a new location in Muallaqa, with room for about 800 inmates and much more adequate infrastructure.

The Catholic Cathedral (Our Lady of Salvation)

This grandiose complex dates back to 1720, and consists of a series of stone-clad buildings around a large inner courtyard: the church itself (which is the oldest part), the seat of the Archbishop (a converted former monastery), and a small chapel housing an icon, which is said to be a reproduction of a portrait of the Virgin Mary by Saint Lucas. It also features a monumental entrance, an underground cemetery, and a 40 m (131 ft) high bell tower, atop of which a large marble clock was mounted in 1993. Part of the complex was destroyed by a bomb attack in April 1987, and rebuilt ever since.

Grand Hotel Kadri

The grand Hotel Kadri is a prime example of the traditional stone architecture of Zahlé, both in and out. It has long been used by most officials and dignitaries visiting the town, as its largest and most luxurious hotel. The Ottomans converted it to a hospital during World War I. During the Lebanese Civil War, it was occupied by Syrian troops and sustained enormous damage. An ambitious restoration project in the mid 90s was able to bring it back to its former glory. The hotel closed in February 2011 due to a conflict between its direction and the Catholic Church (its effective owner since 1999) and reopened later in 2013.

Memshieh Park

Situated across the street from Grand Hotel Kadri, Memshieh is Zahlé's oldest and shadiest park (newly opened J.T.Skaff Park is larger, but contains considerably fewer trees). The park houses a collection of marble tables with mosaic depictions of several sites in Lebanon, a small pond with waterlilies, a semi-circular marble tholos, and several sculptures representing famous locals. In 2003, the municipality covered a 25 m (82 ft) fir (the park's tallest) with thousands of lights, in an attempt to break the world record for the largest natural Christmas tree.

Archaeological sites

Zahlé in itself offers little archaeological interest[citation needed], however the Château Ksara winery is worth a visit for its maze of vaults which dates back to Roman times. The suburb of Karak Nuh also features a curiosity: a 40 m (131 ft) long stone structure inside the local mosque, which local tradition believes to be the Tomb of Noah (but is probably a section of a Roman aqueduct).

Furthermore, there are several ancient sites of interest in nearby locations:

  • In Qabb Ilyas (12 km (7 mi) to the Southwest): rock sculptures of three deities that seem to be of Roman origin
  • In Anjar (18 km (11 mi) to the South): the unique ruins of an Umayyad palace built following a Roman layout, using recycled Hellenistic and Roman material. The palace is classified as a World Heritage Site. A Roman temple also stands on a hilltop above nearby Majdel Anjar.
  • Above the village of Furzol (8 km (5 mi) to the Northwest): a series of rock-cut Roman tombs in the limestone cliffs
  • In Niha (11 km (7 mi) to the Northwest): two exquisite Roman temples bearing Phoenician architectural elements (just outside the village), and two others in need of restoration (higher up, in the area referred to as "the Fortress").

Two more sites worth visiting are a more distant trip away:

Zahlé's culture has long revolved around its signature crop, the grape, and its products, wine and arak. Arak, in particular, has traditionally been served in cafés at virtually any time of the day. The city is known as "the City of Wine and Poetry". A graceful personification of this nickname stands at the town's entrance: a statue of Erato, the Muse of love poetry, holding a bunch of grapes.

Zahlé's most important cultural event is the "Festival of the Vine", traditionally held each September, during which concerts, plays, poetry evenings and artistic exhibitions are organized daily over the course of two or three weeks. The final Saturday evening features the crowning of the "Maid of the Vine", the local beauty queen, and the next afternoon, the festival closes with arguably its most popular event: a parade of floats held on the town's main avenue. The floats are entirely decorated with flowers according to a central theme.

The other central aspect of the local culture is religious devotion. Zahlé is still a very Catholic and conservative town,[citation needed] and many of its inhabitants display a pride with their religious identity. In particular, it is customary to pay visit to 7 churches on Good Friday. Holidays also endorse a very social character, being a time to visit friends and relatives.

Prophet Elias (Elijah) is the town's patron saint, whose feast on July 20 is traditionally celebrated with fireworks. Another notable holiday is Corpus-Christi, celebrated on the first Thursday of June with a large-scale procession, with a torch-lit parade being held on the previous evening. The Corpus Christi celebration dates back to 1825, when the town was spared the ravages of bubonic plague.

Zahlé has a mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa) with continental influences.

Climate data for Zahlé
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.9
(51.6)
11.8
(53.2)
15.0
(59.0)
20.1
(68.2)
25.0
(77.0)
29.2
(84.6)
31.8
(89.2)
32.5
(90.5)
29.3
(84.7)
25.0
(77.0)
18.5
(65.3)
12.9
(55.2)
21.8
(71.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.2
(43.2)
6.9
(44.4)
9.5
(49.1)
13.7
(56.7)
17.7
(63.9)
21.3
(70.3)
23.5
(74.3)
24.1
(75.4)
21.2
(70.2)
17.7
(63.9)
12.5
(54.5)
8.0
(46.4)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 1.5
(34.7)
2.0
(35.6)
4.0
(39.2)
7.3
(45.1)
10.5
(50.9)
13.4
(56.1)
15.3
(59.5)
15.7
(60.3)
13.2
(55.8)
10.4
(50.7)
6.6
(43.9)
3.1
(37.6)
8.6
(47.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 160
(6.3)
127
(5.0)
102
(4.0)
45
(1.8)
18
(0.7)
1
(0.0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2
(0.1)
25
(1.0)
71
(2.8)
135
(5.3)
686
(27)
Source:

Zahlé is twinned with:

  1. "Zahlé | Creative Cities Network". en.unesco.org. Retrieved25 January 2021.
  2. Zeev Schiff; Ehud Yaari; Ina Friedman (1 January 1986). Israel's Lebanon War. Unwin Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-04-327091-2. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  3. Yair Evron (1987). War and Intervention in Lebanon: The Israeli–Syrian Deterrence Dialogue. Croom Helm. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7099-1451-8. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  4. The Bulletin. J. Haynes and J.F. Archibald. September 2004. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  5. "Discover Lebanon".
  6. "EDZ: Electricité de Zahlé". www.edz.com.lb. Retrieved21 January 2021.
  7. Issawi, Charles (1966) The Economic History of the Middle East 1800–1914 University of Chicago Press. Library of Congress Number 66-11883 p.231
  8. Stefan Winter (11 March 2010). The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman Rule, 1516–1788. Cambridge University Press, Page 166.
  9. Issawi p.227
  10. Issawi, p.231
  11. "Beqaa Wineries". Living Lebanon. Retrieved25 January 2021.
  12. Alixa Naff. A social history of Zahlé: the principal market town in nineteenth-century Lebanon. University of California. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  13. Ivan Mannheim (1 July 2001). Syria & Lebanon handbook: the travel guide. Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 584–. ISBN 978-1-900949-90-3. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  14. Archaeological Institute of America; American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem; American School of Classical Studies at Athens; American School of Classical Studies in Rome; American School for Oriental Study and Research in Palestine (1907). American journal of archaeology. Macmillan Co. Retrieved14 April 2011.
  15. George P. Robertson (June 2008). War Against Islam. Lulu.com. pp. 255–. ISBN 978-1-4092-0159-5. Retrieved14 April 2011.[self-published source]
  16. "Climate: Zahlé". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved25 August 2018.
  17. "Bordeaux-Atlas français de la coopération décentralisée et des autres actions extérieures". Délégation pour l'Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved29 July 2013.
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Zahlé
Zahle Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Zahleh Zahle Arabic زحلة is the capital and the largest city of Beqaa Governorate Lebanon With around 150 000 1 inhabitants it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut Tripoli and Sidon 2 3 and the fourth largest taking the whole urban area the Jounieh urban area is larger Zahle زحلهCityZahleLocation in LebanonCoordinates 33 50 N 35 55 E 33 833 N 35 917 E 33 833 35 917 Coordinates 33 50 N 35 55 E 33 833 N 35 917 E 33 833 35 917Country LebanonGovernorateBeqaa GovernorateDistrictZahle DistrictGovernment MayorAsaad ZoghaibArea City8 km2 3 sq mi Metro40 km2 20 sq mi Highest elevation1 150 m 3 780 ft Lowest elevation900 m 2 953 ft Population City100 000 Metro300 000Time zoneUTC 2 EET Summer DST UTC 3 EEST Postcode1801Area code s 8 Zahle is located 55 km 34 mi east of the capital Beirut close to the Beirut Damascus road and lies at the junction of the Lebanon mountains and the Beqaa plateau at a mean elevation of 1 000 m 4 Zahle is known as the Bride of the Beqaa and the Neighbor of the Gorge for its geographical location and attractiveness but also as the City of Wine and Poetry 5 Zahle is called Dar el Salam which means home of peace citation needed It is famous throughout Lebanon and the region for its pleasant climate numerous riverside restaurants and quality arak Its inhabitants are predominantly Greek Catholic and are known in Arabic as Zahlawi Contents 1 Etymology 2 History 3 Demographics 4 Economy 5 Education 6 Transportation 7 Main sights 7 1 Berdawni Promenade 7 2 Our Lady of Zahle and Bekaa 7 3 Town Hall Old Serail 7 4 The Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Salvation 7 5 Grand Hotel Kadri 7 6 Memshieh Park 7 7 Archaeological sites 8 Culture 9 Climate 10 Notable natives 11 Twin towns sister cities 12 References 13 External linksEtymology Edit Zahle in the 19th century The name Zahle is a Syriac 6 better source needed word that refers to moving places citation needed The occasional landslides that take place on deforested hills around the town are probably at the origin of the name History EditThere has been human activity in the area for at least 5000 years In the 18th century Zahle was a small village of some 200 houses 7 Its relative geographic isolation from the local centres of power in Mount Lebanon and Syria caused the village not to have any significant allies in the region to fall back on in case of conflicts or attacks Zahle was burned in 1777 and 1791 citation needed Tradition holds that many Christians quit the Baalbek region in the 18th century for the newer more secure town of Zahle on account of the Harfush dynasty s oppression and rapacity but more critical studies have questioned that interpretation by pointing out that the dynasty was closely allied to the Orthodox Ma luf family of Zahle where Mustafa Harfush took refuge some years later and showing that depredations from various quarters as well as Zahle s growing commercial attractiveness accounted for Baalbek s decline in the 18th century What repression there was did not always target the Christian community per se The Shiite Usayran family for example is also said to have left Baalbek then to avoid expropriation by the Harfushes and established itself as one of the premier commercial households of Sidon and later even served as consuls of Iran 8 At the end of the 18th century Zahle had one thousand inhabitants and two hundred houses By 1820 Zahle s population had grown to 5 000 By 1850 it was 7 to 8 000 and the town had become the commercial centre for the Beka a and main depot for the local grain harvest Some of the factors for the expansion included the Egyptian Occupation 1831 1841 which lead to the opening of the country to European trade the Crimean War which had caused grain shortages in Europe and the expansion of silk production in Mount Lebanon 9 Besides controlling the grain trade Zahle became a centre for livestock from Greater Syria and produced leather woven and dyed goods trading with Aleppo Damascus and Beirut By the 1860s and 1870s the local merchants were prosperous but were still dependent on banks in Beirut for credit for their transactions 10 The current population is not accurately known since no census has been conducted in Lebanon since 1932 but a sensible estimate gives 60 000 people in the town proper citation needed making it the country s fourth largest the locals tend to give figures of 200 000 or 300 000 inhabitants which however are misleading and completely unrealistic The urban area includes the neighbouring towns of Saadnayel Taalabaya Chtaura and Jdita to the Southwest which have come to form a single urban entity since the late 1990s due to unplanned growth and is home to about 100 000 people The metropolitan area extends over much of the Zahle District and additionally comprises the town of Kab Elias to the Southwest the town of Bar Elias to the South the villages of Furzol Ablah and Niha to the Northeast and the towns of Riyaq Haoush Hala and Ali en Nahri to the East with a total population close to 200 000 Demographics EditThis section does not cite any sources Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed February 2017 Learn how and when to remove this template message Zahle is the largest discuss predominantly Christian town in Lebanon and the Middle East with Christians forming around 90 of its total population and the one with the largest number of Catholics 1 better source needed While several Middle Eastern cities including Damascus Cairo and Amman have larger Christian communities these do not constitute a majority In Lebanon Beirut also has a larger Christian population than Zahle in the city proper but most of this population belongs to the Greek Orthodox confession The Christian population of Zahle has the following approximate composition 65 Melkite Greek Catholic 15 Maronite 10 Greek Orthodox 10 belonging to various minorities most notably the Syriac Orthodox Only two Muslim families remained inside Zahle during the civil war Hindi and Zrein Zahle s Muslim minority around 10 of the population is concentrated in the districts of Karak Nuh where Noah s tomb is allegedly located and Haoush al Umara specifically in an area named Hay al watani on the northeastern and southwestern edge of town respectively 70 of Muslims in the area are Shia while the remaining 30 are Sunnis In the past the town also had a Druze minority and even a small Jewish population most of which however emigrated during the Lebanese Civil War Religion in Zahle Lebanon Melkite Greek Catholic 58 Maronite Catholic 14 Greek Orthodox 9 Shia 7 Sunni 3 Other Christian Minorities 9 Zahle has been a land of emigration since the early 19th century with most people emigrating to South America mainly Colombia Venezuela Brazil and Argentina During the Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s a new flow of migrants left the town for the United States Canada Australia and Brazil In recent years emigration has continued with Canada and the United Arab Emirates being the main destinations Today an estimated 250 000 people of local descent live abroad most of them in Colombia and Brazil Economy Edit Zahle grapes Being the main town of the Beqaa valley Lebanon s most important agricultural region the economy of Zahle has long been built on agriculture Grapes are the area s chief product with vineyards forming a prominent feature of the surrounding landscape 11 Vines are also individually grown on lattice on many of the older houses terraces A sizable part of the local produce supplies the three wineries present in and around the town 11 and the numerous distilleries producing arak the local liquor which Zahle is famous for Zahle saw at a time a prosperous commercial activity due to its location midway between Beirut and Damascus 12 Paradoxically it regained some of that activity during the Civil War when the growing instability in Beirut led to a decentralization of the economy Furthermore taxation was nonexistent due to the collapse of State authority which Zahle took advantage of to expand its industrial and commercial sectors citation needed The town s main industrial area lies to the Southeast with the chief sectors being paper mills chemicals plastics canning and food processing citation needed A number of companies and state bodies have their headquarters for the Beqaa region in Zahle including the Central Bank of Lebanon and the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce Education EditZahle is evolving into a regional center of higher education after many universities have opened branches there in recent years Institutes of higher education currently represented in the town include Lebanese University Saint Joseph University Holy Spirit University of Kaslik Antonine University American University of Science and Technology The National Technical InstituteTransportation EditThis section does not cite any sources Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed April 2017 Learn how and when to remove this template message Zahle is connected to Beirut 55 km 34 mi to the West and from there to all coastal cities through the Beirut Damascus road which passes to the Southwest of the urban area The journey can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the traffic Damascus Syria is 73 km 45 mi to the Southeast and is normally reached within 1 30 hour excluding the waiting time at the border Despite continuously undergoing works and repairs the Beirut Damascus road remains in poor condition and is due to be replaced by a new multimillion dollar highway as the main international route citation needed however the completion date is still unclear Zahle is also connected to Baalbek 36 km 22 mi to the Northeast by the trans Beqaa road which continues further North towards Homs Syria The section stretching along the Zahle urban area from Chtaura to Karak Nuh was recently upgraded Due to widespread car ownership public transportation remains underdeveloped There is a single bus line which runs on the central avenue at rather irregular times Interurban transportation is done by minivans which stop on the Manara roundabout at the town s entrance Zahle s railway station was located in Muallaqa but was abandoned after all rail transport in Lebanon stopped during the Civil War There were plans to convert the nearby Rayak Air Base located 10 km 6 mi to the East of Zahle into a civil airport serving the town and the whole valley A regional airport could prove vital when the road to Beirut is closed because of heavy snowfall However the project froze in the early 2000s after the runway extension had been initiated Main sights EditThis section needs additional citations for verification Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed August 2021 Learn how and when to remove this template message Berdawni Promenade Edit Cafes along the Berdawni River The banks of the Berdawni River have long been a place where people of Zahle and other parts of Lebanon citation needed come to socialize The town s most popular attraction is a 300 m 984 ft promenade along the river referred to as Al Wadi the valley Sheltered between the ravine s limestone cliffs it is lined up with large outdoor restaurants cafes and playrooms and shaded by trees These restaurants specialize in traditional Lebanese meze served with arak The promenade is closed during late fall and winter when cold winds from the mountain sweep through the ravine Casino arabi Our Lady of Zahle and Bekaa Edit Our Lady of Zahle and Bekaa Taken in the 1970s Located on a hilltop to the Southwest of Zahle this is a 54 m 177 ft high concrete tower entirely clad in white marble and topped with a 10 m 33 ft high bronze statue of the Virgin Mary the work of an Italian artist It is by far Zahle s most prominent structure it is visible from most of the city and from several miles around in the central Bekaa Valley At its base is a chapel that can seat a little over a hundred people The top of the tower features sweeping views over Zahle and the Bekaa valley Town Hall Old Serail Edit The Old Serail turned into the prison of Zahle in 1991 serves today as the town hall This Ottoman building was constructed in 1850 to serve as the town s Serail Located just downhill from Our Lady of Zahle and Bekaa it is a mix of local and Ottoman architecture and features an atrium occupied by an inner garden and surrounded by arcades Though still known as the Old Serail it currently serves as the Town Hall In the past the ground floor used to house the local prison which suffered of severe overcrowding and substandard conditions The prison was transferred in 2009 to a new location in Muallaqa with room for about 800 inmates and much more adequate infrastructure The Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Salvation Edit This grandiose complex dates back to 1720 and consists of a series of stone clad buildings around a large inner courtyard the church itself which is the oldest part the seat of the Archbishop a converted former monastery and a small chapel housing an icon which is said to be a reproduction of a portrait of the Virgin Mary by Saint Lucas It also features a monumental entrance an underground cemetery and a 40 m 131 ft high bell tower atop of which a large marble clock was mounted in 1993 Part of the complex was destroyed by a bomb attack in April 1987 and rebuilt ever since Grand Hotel Kadri Edit The grand Hotel Kadri is a prime example of the traditional stone architecture of Zahle both in and out It has long been used by most officials and dignitaries visiting the town as its largest and most luxurious hotel The Ottomans converted it to a hospital during World War I During the Lebanese Civil War it was occupied by Syrian troops and sustained enormous damage 13 An ambitious restoration project in the mid 90s was able to bring it back to its former glory The hotel closed in February 2011 due to a conflict between its direction and the Catholic Church its effective owner since 1999 and reopened later in 2013 Memshieh Park Edit Situated across the street from Grand Hotel Kadri Memshieh is Zahle s oldest and shadiest park newly opened J T Skaff Park is larger but contains considerably fewer trees The park houses a collection of marble tables with mosaic depictions of several sites in Lebanon a small pond with waterlilies a semi circular marble tholos and several sculptures representing famous locals In 2003 the municipality covered a 25 m 82 ft fir the park s tallest with thousands of lights in an attempt to break the world record for the largest natural Christmas tree Archaeological sites Edit Zahle in itself offers little archaeological interest citation needed however the Chateau Ksara winery is worth a visit for its maze of vaults which dates back to Roman times The suburb of Karak Nuh also features a curiosity a 40 m 131 ft long stone structure inside the local mosque which local tradition believes to be the Tomb of Noah but is probably a section of a Roman aqueduct 13 Furthermore there are several ancient sites of interest in nearby locations In Qabb Ilyas 12 km 7 mi to the Southwest rock sculptures of three deities that seem to be of Roman origin 14 In Anjar 18 km 11 mi to the South the unique ruins of an Umayyad palace built following a Roman layout using recycled Hellenistic and Roman material The palace is classified as a World Heritage Site A Roman temple also stands on a hilltop above nearby Majdel Anjar 13 Above the village of Furzol 8 km 5 mi to the Northwest a series of rock cut Roman tombs in the limestone cliffs 13 In Niha 11 km 7 mi to the Northwest two exquisite Roman temples bearing Phoenician architectural elements just outside the village and two others in need of restoration higher up in the area referred to as the Fortress Two more sites worth visiting are a more distant trip away Kamed al Lawz 32 km 20 mi to the South is the most important Bronze Age settlement in Lebanon with finds from the Phoenician Persian Hellenistic Roman and Byzantine periods having been uncovered as well 15 self published source The world famous Roman archaeological complex of Baalbeck another World Heritage Site is located 36 km 22 mi to the Northwest Culture EditZahle s culture has long revolved around its signature crop the grape and its products wine and arak Arak in particular has traditionally been served in cafes at virtually any time of the day The city is known as the City of Wine and Poetry A graceful personification of this nickname stands at the town s entrance a statue of Erato the Muse of love poetry holding a bunch of grapes Zahle s most important cultural event is the Festival of the Vine traditionally held each September during which concerts plays poetry evenings and artistic exhibitions are organized daily over the course of two or three weeks The final Saturday evening features the crowning of the Maid of the Vine the local beauty queen and the next afternoon the festival closes with arguably its most popular event a parade of floats held on the town s main avenue The floats are entirely decorated with flowers according to a central theme The other central aspect of the local culture is religious devotion Zahle is still a very Catholic and conservative town citation needed and many of its inhabitants display a pride with their religious identity In particular it is customary to pay visit to 7 churches on Good Friday Holidays also endorse a very social character being a time to visit friends and relatives Prophet Elias Elijah is the town s patron saint whose feast on July 20 is traditionally celebrated with fireworks Another notable holiday is Corpus Christi celebrated on the first Thursday of June with a large scale procession with a torch lit parade being held on the previous evening The Corpus Christi celebration dates back to 1825 when the town was spared the ravages of bubonic plague Climate EditZahle has a mediterranean climate Koppen climate classification Csa with continental influences Climate data for ZahleMonth Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec YearAverage high C F 10 9 51 6 11 8 53 2 15 0 59 0 20 1 68 2 25 0 77 0 29 2 84 6 31 8 89 2 32 5 90 5 29 3 84 7 25 0 77 0 18 5 65 3 12 9 55 2 21 8 71 3 Daily mean C F 6 2 43 2 6 9 44 4 9 5 49 1 13 7 56 7 17 7 63 9 21 3 70 3 23 5 74 3 24 1 75 4 21 2 70 2 17 7 63 9 12 5 54 5 8 0 46 4 15 2 59 4 Average low C F 1 5 34 7 2 0 35 6 4 0 39 2 7 3 45 1 10 5 50 9 13 4 56 1 15 3 59 5 15 7 60 3 13 2 55 8 10 4 50 7 6 6 43 9 3 1 37 6 8 6 47 5 Average precipitation mm inches 160 6 3 127 5 0 102 4 0 45 1 8 18 0 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 25 1 0 71 2 8 135 5 3 686 27 Source 16 Notable natives EditSaid Akl poet philosopher and politician Fouad El Turk poet former Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations and head of the Forum of Lebanese Ambassadors Charles Elachi from nearby Riyaq director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in NASA Elias Hrawi president of Lebanon 1989 1998 Joseph Raya Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop and civil rights activist Louis Khalil Lebanese priest of the Maronite Church Najwa Karam Lebanese singer Wael Kfoury Lebanese singer Isabel Bayrakdarian Armenian Canadian operatic soprano Shakira Mebarak Colombian singer songwriter whose father is from Zahle citation needed dubious discuss Twin towns sister cities EditSee also List of twin towns and sister cities in Lebanon Zahle is twinned with Baalbek Lebanon Belo Horizonte Brazil Bordeaux France since 2006 17 Recife Brazil Rosario Argentina Zabrze PolandReferences Edit Zahle Creative Cities Network en unesco org Retrieved 25 January 2021 Zeev Schiff Ehud Yaari Ina Friedman 1 January 1986 Israel s Lebanon War Unwin Paperbacks ISBN 978 0 04 327091 2 Retrieved 14 April 2011 Yair Evron 1987 War and Intervention in Lebanon The Israeli Syrian Deterrence Dialogue Croom Helm p 93 ISBN 978 0 7099 1451 8 Retrieved 14 April 2011 The Bulletin J Haynes and J F Archibald September 2004 Retrieved 14 April 2011 Discover Lebanon EDZ Electricite de Zahle www edz com lb Retrieved 21 January 2021 Issawi Charles 1966 The Economic History of the Middle East 1800 1914 University of Chicago Press Library of Congress Number 66 11883 p 231 Stefan Winter 11 March 2010 The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman Rule 1516 1788 Cambridge University Press Page 166 Issawi p 227 Issawi p 231 a b Beqaa Wineries Living Lebanon Retrieved 25 January 2021 Alixa Naff A social history of Zahle the principal market town in nineteenth century Lebanon University of California Retrieved 14 April 2011 a b c d Ivan Mannheim 1 July 2001 Syria amp Lebanon handbook the travel guide Footprint Travel Guides pp 584 ISBN 978 1 900949 90 3 Retrieved 14 April 2011 Archaeological Institute of America American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem American School of Classical Studies at Athens American School of Classical Studies in Rome American School for Oriental Study and Research in Palestine 1907 American journal of archaeology Macmillan Co Retrieved 14 April 2011 George P Robertson June 2008 War Against Islam Lulu com pp 255 ISBN 978 1 4092 0159 5 Retrieved 14 April 2011 self published source Climate Zahle Climate Data org Retrieved 25 August 2018 Bordeaux Atlas francais de la cooperation decentralisee et des autres actions exterieures Delegation pour l Action Exterieure des Collectivites Territoriales Ministere des Affaires etrangeres in French Archived from the original on 7 February 2013 Retrieved 29 July 2013 View From Zahle Security And Economic Conditions In The Central Bekaa 1980 1985 2 on Lebanon and the Peace Process Bashir Gemeyel and Syria Fight Over Zahle Conflict and Consensus Zahle and Dayr Al Qamar two market towns during the civil war of the 1860s Zahle and Forzol Dictionary of the Names of Towns and Villages in Lebanon Anis Freiha 1976 Hage Chahine Carlos and Nevine 2008 C etait Zahle Imprime au Liban Maroun Hlal Elize 2018 Maths et Physiques Reponses vites et incorrectes Imprime au Liban CSJ External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Zahle mideast com zahle tourism Zahleh Maallaqa Taanayel localiban org Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Zahle amp oldid 1043205370, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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