Zahle was founded in 1711 in an area whose past reaches back some five millennia.
In the early 18th century the new town was divided into three separate quarters, each of which had its own governor.
The city enjoyed a brief period as the region's first independent state when it had its own red and green flag and national anthem.
Zahle was burnt in 1777 and 1791, burnt and robbed in 1860. But during the rule of the Mutasarrifiah, Zahle began to regain its prosperity. The railroad line came through in 1885 connecting Zahle with Beirut and enhancing trade, commerce and business between Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Mussel.
Considered the birthplace of the Lebanese army, Zahle has played a major role in the political life of the country.
"ZAHLE", the origin of this name is the object of a controversy between the historians. For certain historians Zahlé has been named after "Zohal", worshipped by the Romans as the God of fertility. They base their explanation on the discovery of ruins, of Roman changes and underground galleries in the city and its surroundings.
For others the word Zahle is derived from "Zahal", an Aramean term that means to slide, slip of its location, to dislodge, to displace. This explanation coincides with the geological structure of the city and its surroundings where occasional landslides take place from time to time.
And the rest speculates that Zahle comes from "Zahlan Bin Hilal", an Arabic king having probably come to Zahle, at the time of the occupation of the Beqaa by the Arabs on the seventh century of the Christian era.