Zouk Mosbeh

Zouk Mosbeh is located at the foot of Keserwan mountains. This town has maintained a historical presence since ancient ages, due to its Phoenician past and its proximity to Byblos, Jounieh and Beirut.

Zouk Mosbeh, alongside Zouk Mikael and Jounieh, form a continuous populated metropolis, rendering them one of the biggest populated Christian presences in Lebanon.

Name Origin:

According to the historian Anis Freiha, the name of Zouk Mosbeh has three possible connotations:
1- From the Aramaic DAOUQUO meaning guard, keeper and protector.
2- From the Aramaic SHOUKO meaning market.
3- From the word DOUK meaning place, area and location.

But Father Lammens considers that the name is of Turkish origin while other historians believe that the word zouk is of Turkmen origin meaning 'tribal colony'. The latter explanation is closer to the historical fact.

As for the word Mosbeh, it is a proper noun and an attribute; according to father Al Hattouni in his book “The history of the Casa of Keserwan”, the 3 Zouks, Zouk Mosbeh, Zouk Mikael and Zouk el Amerieh, were named after their respective commanders (mokaddams).

Zouk Mosbeh is an ancient town standing on four hills at an altitude of 250 meters in the southern coastal area of Keserwan; it stretches over an area of 4,258,499 square meters.

To the west the Mediterranean, to the south Nahr El Kalb (Dog River), which separates it from Zouk Al Khrab (Dbayeh), to the east Jeita and Aintoura and to the north Zouk Mikael.

- A sea-bound plain (Al Wata), which stretches from Nahr El Kalb in the south to Zouk Mikael in the north. This plain that was famous for its agricultural nature transformed from the early 70's into a region of tourist resorts.
- A river-bound plain where agriculture still dominates.
- Two industrial zones (Ghlan and Al Shawyeh) that are among the chief industrial centers in Lebanon.
- Residential areas that have grown astronomically.

Zouk’s History:
It is only natural that the banks of Nahr El Kalb should have provided homes
for the Stone-Age man due to the abundance of water and naturally fortified
locations. The German scientist Zumofen affirmed that the grottos and caves
of Nahr El Kalb, know as the Lycos River in ancient times, were inhabited in the Paleontological Age, that is to say two hundred thousand years ago.

In more recent ancient time, evidences of conquerors and historical events are abundant in Zouk Mosbeh, thanks mainly to the ridges and rocks surrounding Nahr el Kalb.

Some of the most evident inscriptions left on the southern side of the town, in slabs of marble or on the rocks are:

  • The engraving of the Neo-Babylonian invader Nebuchadnezzar (605 B.C. - 562 B.C.). The Babylonian inscriptions were discovered in 1878; the text, dating back 587 or 586 B.C. described his campaign in Lebanon.
  • Facing Nebuchadnezzar's stele, 20 m to the south-east, stands a unique polished marble slab on which is written: "The Roman emperor Caracalla (211 - 217 A.D.) who gives himself here as the direct descendant of Antonin the Pious, recounts the works achieved in the rock by the Legio III Gallica (3rd Gallic legion)".
  • Five steles mark expeditions made by Assyrian kings, one of whom was Assarhaddon (680-627 BC).
  • There are two inscriptions in Greek. One is illegible but the other commemorates more road and engineering work. This was accomplished in 382 by Proclus, Byzantine governor of Phoenicia under Theodose the Great (379-395).
  • When Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II marched through Lebanon over 3,000 years ago, he left three inscriptions in the rock above what is now Nahr el-Kalb ( Dog River ).
  • Beneath this plaque is a flag and a bronze helmet and a frieze representing some soldiers parading. Further towards the sea, can be seen Napoleon's plaque, engraved in 1861 during the expedition that put an end to Christians' slaughter in Lebanon. This plaque took the place of that of Ramses II.
  • The 20th century has also its share of inscriptions. One records that French troops under General Gouraud took Damascus in1920; this was in celebration of the French army's victory against king Facial's army in Maissaloun.
  • Two others dating 1919 and 1930 mark one event. The first stele notes that the British Desert Corps took Damascus, Homs and Aleppo in October 1918. The other relates the same story, but names Australian, New Zealand, Indian and French contingents, as well as "Arab troops of King Hussein", Shreef of Mecca.
  • The British and French occupation of Beirut and Tripoli in October 1918 is recorded in another inscription.
  • Beside the 17th steles before Lebanon's Independence, we have one marking the evacuation of foreign armies from Lebanon on December 31, 1946, and a monument to the French war dead.
  • The Phoenician Tomb: this is situated near Christ the King on the borders
    of the Valley of Nahr El Kalb and is a typical example of the tombs that
    were built by rich Phoenicians. Its walls enclose two sarcophaguses.
  • Grotto of Louaizé: an ancient well-shaped tomb was discovered in the
    courtyard of Notre Dame of Louaizé School in 1966 (where the Shrine of the
    Virgin currently stands). Metallic ware, swords and potter ware were also
    found in it and most of these items are now kept at the Monastery of
  • - Khara'eb Al Moulook (The ruins of the Kings) Grotto: this is now a shrine dedicated to the Virgin as Lady of the Universe and it is situated in the courtyard of Christ the King Monastery. When the venerable Father Yaacoub knew of this shrine, he shouted: "This is for the Queen!"
  • Grotto of Ghlan: this was an underground cemetery, which is situated in
    the current Christ the King Medical Center. It is known as the Jewish Tomb.
  • The Sarcophagus of Rabbaya: it was formarly situated on the side of the
    road between upper Zouk Mosbeh and Haklet Al Dahab (currently known as
    Adonis). It is now located in Rayfoun Park.

The pointed Arab bridge nearby is also the subject of an inscription advising us that Mamluke Sultan Barqouq (1382-1399) either built or rebuilt it. This bridge destroyed and repaired many times during its history, was last renovated by Emir Bechir ll in 1809.

Before 1291 A.D., there is no clear history of Zouk Mosbeh. It did not even bear the same name; this name was bestowed upon it after it had been inhabited by the Turkmen.

After the Mamluks destroyed Keserwan, driving its Maronite north and it Shiite population south and east, the Assaf Turkmen clan settled in the Zouks: Zouk Al Amariyeh (currently Amaret Chalhoub), Zouk Mosbeh, and Zouk Mikael to keep guard against the return of the original inhabitants. Each Zouk, or military base, contained 300 soldiers who moved monthly between each base. The base of Zouk, in Zouk Mosbeh, was in the Al Kharaeb or Khara'eb Al Moulook area that was situated in the place of the
current Monastery of Christ the King. As for the housing of the soldiers' families, this was located in what is known today as Haï Al Saydeh (the Quarter of Our Lady).

In Modern and Contemporary Times
In the battle of Marj Dabek in 1516 that was crowned by the victory of the Ottomans over the Mamluks, the Assaf family sided with the Ottomans and Sultan Selim Khan I appointed them as walis (governors) over Keserwan.

In that era, the Maronites began to return back or resettle, specifically from the region of
Jbeil to live in Keserwan. Zouk Mosbeh received families from Haqel, Jaj, Ghalboon and other villages and in 1701became one of the largest cities in Keserwan.

Zouk Mosbeh witnessed a period of great prosperity between the early 17th century and mid-18th century.

Al Hattouni said: "As for Zouk Mosbeh, it was up to the middle of the past generation (18th century) the largest village in Keserwan, containing around one thousand houses and famous for its stores and inhabitants. It enclosed a large number of stores that attracted people who tended to their affairs and bought their supplies. Then, things started deteriorating until it became (end of the 19th century) one of the small villages with around one hundred house, and nothing remained of its stores but ruins ..."
Part of the reason for the above-mentioned decline was the prosperity of other Keserwanite villages such as Jounieh and Ghazir during that same period. Another reason was the destruction of the town by the Druze Sheikhs in 1820.

Zouk Mosbeh was famous for its fine wine. Tannous Al Chidiac said: "...and among the larger villages of Keserwan, (is) Zouk Mosbeh, and its wine, which is the finest in Lebanon".

Prince Bashir II did not find anyone more skilled than the people of Zouk Mosbeh to teach the Egyptians the art of making silk in response to the request of the khedive of Egypt (Al Hattouni, Prince Haidar Chehab).

In addition to this, some rich and enterprising families played a great role in promoting local prosperity, starting from the end of the 16th century and continuing into the beginning of the 19th century. The most important of these families were Haqlani, Al Zand, Aziz, Saadeh and later Al Tabeeb and Chehab princes and El Khazen and Hbeich sheikhs, followed by Awkar, Srour, Abou Haidar, Boueiz, Saati and others.

In 1820, after the inhabitants of Jbeil refused to pay the despotic "miri" to Prince Basheer, the latter marched on Jbeil to suppress the mutiny and bring about order...and he agreed with the sheikhs of the Shouf, his allies, to meet at Nahr El Kalb. "The sheikhs crossed the river with their men and plundered the Monastery of Louizeh and Zouk Mosbeh." "...Prince Salman passed through Zouk Mosbeh and found it devastated and in ruins...” Due to these events, emigration to neighboring villages increased; and, at the end of World War I and with the Turkish imposed famine on the Maronites of mount Lebanon, the inhabitants of Zouk Mosbeh the village came close to oblivion. Then, the emigration to the new lands began, especially Brazil and Mexico, and Mosbeh became another forgotten village.

Zouk Mosbeh flourished again in the mid 20th century.1950, water reached the houses. In 1955 electricity was provided. In 1957 a road to Jeita Grotto was cut through the town. In 1954 the municipality was established. In 1956 the first industrial plant was built. In 1962, the Ecoshare project, summoned by the then President of the Republic, Kesewanite Fouad Chehab, allocated two large industrial zones to the town. In 1957 Adonis housing project was launched...

Zouk Mosbeh today is the home of many luxurious marine tourist resorts, hotels,
parks, restaurants, theaters, media and marketing companies, clinics, pharmacies, dispensaries, churches, social establishments, religious and civic organizations, printing presses, libraries, publishing houses, monasteries, shrines, schools, universities, etc...

Religious Landmarks
Our Lady of the Rosary is the oldest parish church in Zouk Mosbeh. Its construction began in 1701 and ended in 1703-early 1704. The building is of considerable size considering the date of its construction. It looks like a fortress and it was built according to the architecture that distinguished the Maronite churches from the 11th century until the beginning of the 20th century. The church comprises rare oil paintings, relics from the Cross and some saints, rich embroideries, manuscripts and old books.

The Saint Elijah: this parish church was consecrated by Patriarch Estphan Doueihy in 1675; its current building dates back to 1912/1913.

The church of Saint John the Baptist: situated in Nahr El Kalb. It dates back to 1923.

The church of Saint Anthony (Antonios): situated in Adonis. It dates back to 1963.

The church of Saint Charbel: situated in Adonis. It dates back to the early 80's.

The Monastery of Notre Dame of Louiaze was built by Sheikh Salhab Al Haqlani in 1682 from his private money and on his private land. He endowed it with much land and property.

In 1736 it hosted the famous Lebanese Synod, which is considered to be the most important synod in the history of the Maronites. Since the monastery was not able to receive all the participants (they were over one hundred), "the Haqlani family welcomed a large number of them in their houses." The monastery is also the place where the Lebanese Order keeps the remains of its founder Abdallah Kra'lee, who died on January 6, 1742 and was buried in the church Our Lady of the Rosary.

It has also been the headquarters of the Lebanese Order since 1725. After the split that took place in the Order between Aleppine and Baladite in 1768 (officially in 1710), the monastery became the general headquarters of the Aleppine Order, which became known in 1968 as the Mariamite Maronite Order.

On September 1, 1818, the monastery hosted another important Maronite Synod, known as the Louaizeh Synod. The Monastery of Louaizeh includes an extensive library that contains old, rare and valuable manuscripts and books, in addition to oil paintings, documents, sacred vessels and church vestments.

Christ the King Home for the Elderly was founded by Father Yacoub Haddad, the founder of the Nuns of the Cross, and inaugurated at the end of 1952, it is a home for the elderly, especially members of the clergy.

Educational Landmarks
The history of education in Zouk Mosbeh began in 1682 the date of the construction of the Monastery of Notre Dame of Louaizeh by its founder and principal owner Salhab Bin Faraj Mjahid Bin Ibrahim Al Haqlani from Zouk Mosbeh.

Sheik Salhab (who became known as Pastor Ighnatios after his ordination) said in a handwritten manuscript that before the completion of the construction of the Monastery of Louaizeh, he "vowed to himself" that this monastery would be a school to educate children...He even brought in a monk from the Monastery of Tameesh to begin teaching the children. In this way, his vision foreshadowed by 54 years the decisions of the Lebanese Synod (1736) in relation to education. This Synod had ordered, "Schools shall be built in monasteries to educate the young". Then, Jabbour Al Tabeeb offered his land in 1789 for the construction of a school.

The Public School was built in 1951. In 1973, the municipality allocated to it approximately 5500 m2 of land.

The Lycée de Ville School is situated in Adonis. It was established in 1995.

Notre Dame of Louaize School was established by the Maronite Mariamite Order in the 30's to educate the clergy. In 1960, it opened its doors to the public. It kept on expanding until it now offers education in both the French and English curricula to around 4500 students.

As for Notre Dame University - Louaize, the "Louaize Center for Higher Education" was established in 1978 to be a basis for the establishment of an independent university. The Maronite Mariamite (Marist) Order was officially authorized to establish this university on August 14, 1987. The university follows the American curriculum and offers all the scientific and modern specializations that meet the needs of the work markets. The foundation stone for the new camps was laid on November 19, 1994. Today, it has an enrollment of more than 3500 students.