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Thread: Metn - Beit Mery

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    Default Metn - Beit Mery

    Origin of the name The name Beit Mery comes from the syriac "Bet Mr" which means the place for praying or the house of my master, my king. This name is in honor of the famous Phoenician god Markod (god of music, dancing and singing) whose cult was centralized in Beit Mery on the hill of Deir El Kalaa. And we find, till our days, during the the local feast of Saint Sassine similarities with the past festivities attributed to the god Markod.

    In Lebanon, there exists numerous towns and village whose name begins with Beit and its origin is somehow alike.

    The Old Beirut It was told that Beirut had a temple, on elevations called today Deir El Kalaa in Beit Mery, that was called the Old Beirut. This name which was mentioned on several historical documents (the most recent document is an official document written in 1747 related to the properties of the St John convent) certainly has a story. In fact, the inhabitants of Beirut used to find shelter on the hill of Deir El Kalaa when their town was affected by seismic activity, wars and fires (note that Beirut was burned and rebuilt seven times). This phenomenon also took place during the first and second world war (when the Royal Air Force bombarded the capital).

    The Roman Era During the reign of the roman emperor Claudius Cesar (year 55), numerous temples, public baths, theatres and stadiums were built in Beirut and on the hill that held its name (Beit Mery). When the Romans conquered Lebanon in the half of the 1st century, they appropriated the local gods in order to satisfy the local religious needs of the inhabitants of the country.
    The god Baal Markod was thus considered as being the equivalent of Jupiter, god of the gods. As for the Phoenician goddess Astarte, she was compared to the Roman goddess Juno. Thus, the Romans constructed the temples of Markod-Jupiter and Juno-Astarte which ruins still stand today on the hill of Deir El Kalaa.
    Note that historians suppose that the Old Beirut was burnt and rebuilt several times during the reign of the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans resulting from seismic activity and wars. Consequently, the temples would have been rebuilt more than once.

    Religions and Beliefs Time witnessed the conquest of Lebanon by several civilizations. They added their religions and beliefs to the region. Phoenicians and Greeks believed, for example, that high elevations are the residence of the gods and that they use to appear in those high elevations. This is one of the reasons which lead to the construction, in Beit Mery on the hill of Deir El Kalaa, of a temple for the god Baal Markod. It was the first temple in the country to have a view on the whole Lebanese shore.

    Source: BeitMery.com*-*Encyclopedia


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    Beit Mery is considered to be among the richest ruins of Lebanon, compared to Baalbek and Tyr. The village is located at a strategic site between the city and the sky, with a superb sight on Beirut. Some people say that "the village is a paradise, located between the sky and the ground", fields of the gods that several civilizations conquered and enriched by their customs and culture.


    The sudden dramatic height of Mount Lebanon gives Beit Mery, at 800 meters, spectacular views of the Beirut peninsula and large sections of the coast. This is a popular resort with good restaurants, entertainment and hotels ready to receive visitors. The town is also the scene of an annual winter cultural festival that features international drama and dance groups as well as orchestras and chamber ensembles.In the centre of town, a sign-posted road to the right leads to the Maronite Monastery of Saint John the Baptist (known as Deir el-Qalaa) and Beit Merys Roman and Byzantine remains. This huge site on a strategic location overlooking Beirut, is on three levels.

    At the top are the ruins of a Roman temple to the important local god Baal Marqod which has a church built on part of its foundations. The church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist was constructed in 1750 and has apparently been rebuilt a number of times since then. The inscription above the main door bears the date 1768, the year the church was first built. The old church is incorporated into the present early 20th century structure.

    The temple itself, probably dating to the first century AD, has masonry intact up to three meters. Three of the six columns are still standing, although not at their original height.

    A short walk down the hill leads to the site of a small second century AD temple to the goddess Juno. A monumental doorway still stands amid a jumble of ancient stones, some with Latin inscriptions. This doorway was probably the start of a processional path between the two temples.

    Below the Juno temple is an extensive area of scattered ruins. Of particular note is the mosaic floor of a 6th century Byzantine church with one of the reused temple columns in place. Nearby is a remarkably well preserved public bath. In one of its rooms it is possible to observe the heating system through a hole broken in the floor. The hypocaust tiles, used to conduct heat, are all in place.

    Once a Roman-Byzantine settlement, the entire site is littered with remains of more temples, a second bath and a colonnaded street.

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    The town of Beit Mery is located at 16 km from Beirut in the Metn province. The technical card of the village is presented below.

    Locality City/Village Beit Mery Province Metn Region
    ("Mohafazat")
    Mount Lebanon
    Country Lebanese Republic
    Altitude 800 m
    Distance from the capital
    16 km from Beirut
    Distance from the province capital 14 km from Baabda
    Routes from the capital
    - Jdeideh - Fanar - Ain Saadeh - Beit Mery - Sin El Fil - Mekalles - Ain Saadeh - Beit Mery - Nahr El Mot - Roumieh - Ain Saadeh - Beit Mery

    Inhabitants
    Inhabitants 5500 [1985]
    Number of houses
    2300 [1985]
    Number of voters
    1800 [1985]
    Families Abdel Massih, Abou Fadel, Abou Gebrael, Azar, Barakat, Chaanine, Daniel, Edd, El Asmar, Kreiker, Khoury, Madi, Mokbel, Mouhawej, Moukheiber, Najjar, Raad, Rachid, Rouhana, Wakim

    Local feasts
    Saint Sassine (15 September)

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    Located on the highest hill of Beit Mery, the area of Deir El Kalaa owes its name to the convent Saint Jean El Kalaa (which means in English "Saint John of the hill", "Deir" means convent) built by the Antonins monks (two branches among Christians Maronites exist: the Antonins and Marists) in the 18th century. In spite of the Maronite convent, the area of Deir El Kalaa holds various ruins dating from the Phoenician, Byzantine and Roman era. This place is classified "ruins" by the Lebanese ministry of tourism and it constituted until a recent time an important arts center in the country (in particular with the annual festival of Deir El Kalaa).

    The wealth of the area is due first of all to its high elevation, which constitutes an important strategic point with a broad angle of sight on Beirut (the capital) and the sea. It is in fact the principal reason for which the Romans and, later, the Byzantines chose the area of Deir El Kalaa like a base for one of their colonies. The history of the area is distributed on more then 2500 years, and is divided into four major periods: the Phoenician prosperity, the Roman domination, the Byzantine fortune, the convent of Saint Jean El Kalaa and Maronite Christianity (we could also add the Cananeans and the Turks).

    The discovery of the ruins of Deir El Kalaa began when the property was transferred to the Antonin Maronite Order in 1747. The artifacts are today sited in the museum of the convent located in the large tomb. The first archaeologists to have studied these ruins were the British Waddington, and the French Clermane Ganaud. Their reports written in 1898 are available in the academic library in Paris.

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