About Zahlé

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What to See in Zahle

Zahle's many beautiful old houses can be appreciated on a leisurely walk around the town. A good example of Zahle's local architecture is the restored Geha House in the old part of town. Although this is a private home; one can easily appreciate its courtyard, garden and arched upper galleries - all typical of 17th century architecture. An old underground tunnel 1,400 meters long leads from the house to the church of St. Elias (Al-Tuwak).

The restored Serail or government house in the old part of town dates from 1885. This beautiful building, whose architecture reflects the European and Arab influences of The Ottoman period, houses the offices of the municipality of Zahle.

At the start of the 20th century Zahle began building hotels to serve its budding tourist and summer resort trade. Although the "Sohat" (health) Hotel built in 1878 has been demolished, three establishments from this era can still be seen: the Hotel America, the Hotel Akl and the Hotel Kadri.

The Souk al-Blatt or "tiled market" is a market street leading to one of the oldest part of the city. A large part of Zahle's history was written in this Souk, where in former times travelers to and from Syria, Baghdad and Palestine bought and sold their goods. A project is planned to restore the street and make it a center for crafts and other traditional activities.

Sayedit zalzaly is Zahle'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 Zahle (1720). This impressive structure is also known as Al-Moukhallasiah.
The Monastery of Our Lady of Najat (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.
The Monastery of Saint Elias at-Tuwak, which dates to 1755, was renovated in 1880 after a fire. Today it remains one of Zahle's most venerable monuments.
For the most spectacular view, go to the 54-meter-high hilltop tower of Our Lady of Zahle and the Beqaa located east of town. Here an elevator takes you up to a viewing platform overlooking the city and the extending plain. The structure is crowned with a ten-meter-high bronze statue of the Virgin, the work of the Italian artist, Pierroti. The base houses a small chapel seating about 100 people.

The landmark Tell Shiha Hospital, with its red tile roof, was opened in 1948. Located a high on a high hill of the same name, this site is a good spot for photographs.

The Zahle area has some scattered ancient remains indicating a history going back at least to the Bronze Age (1200-3000 BC). You can see cave tombs in the cliffs of the Wadi el-Aarayesh, while Byzantine, Roman and Canaanite sarcophagi and ancient pottery shreds have been found in the hills around the city.