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Zahle: Capital of the Beqaa


Zahle was founded about 300 years ago in an area whose past reaches back some five millennia. The city enjoyed a brief period as the region's first independent state in the 19th century when it had its own flag and anthem. Zahle was burned in 1777 and 1791, and it was burned and plundered in 1860. But during the rule of the Mutasarrifiah, Zahle began to regain its prosperity. The railroad line which came through in 1885 improved commerce and the town became the internal "port" of the Beqaa and Syria. It was also the center of agriculture and trade between Beirut and Damascus, Mosul and Baghdad. Considered the birthplace of the Lebanese army, Zahlé has played a major role in the political life of the country.

Places to visit in Zahle:

-Sayedit Zalzaly is Zahlé's oldest church. Built in 1700, it originally stood at the center of the city.

-The Church of St. Elias is the second church built in Zahlé (1720). This impressive structure is also known as Al-Moukhallasiah.

-The Monastery (1720) has the largest bell tower in Lebanon. The monastery is known as well for a beautiful icon of the Virgin Mary, a gift from the King of Prussia.

What is Zahle Famous for?

Wine and Arak
At the heart of Zahle, this city has been making wine for centuries. The hills of the north of town are covered with the neat rows of vineyards that supply Zahle's wine and arak industries. Many of the wines have been formally recognized abroad for their fine quality–equal to some of the best in Europe. A tour of Zahlé's Ksara winery is a good way to see how wine and arak are made. Of special interest here are the extensive underground caves built around a natural grotto known and enlarged by the Romans.

This wonderful city is visited by lots of tourist each year. It's locals are known for their hospitality and generosity. Come visit Lebanon this year to see why Zahle is called the Bride of Lebanon.
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