Nestled in the eastern foothills of Mount Sannine, Zahlé is considered the jewel of the Beqaa Valley and the “City of Wine and Poetry”. The Bardouni River meanders past its atmospheric old town on the western bank and lively shopping district to the east.
Things to do
Get a taste of traditional architecture in Zahlé by visiting the beautifully-restored Geha House in the old town. It was built in the early 17th century and features arched galleries, interior courtyard and a 1,400-metre-long underground tunnel linking it with St. Elias Church.
Wander around the old market area of Housh El-Zarani, where artisans once came from across Syria, Baghdad and Palestine to trade their goods. Many of its old buildings exhibit beautifully decorated facades and vaulted interiors, offering a taste of old Zahlé.
Don’t miss a visit to the 19th-century Serail, or Government House, which blends influences from European and Arab architecture in classic Ottoman style. Today it houses the offices of the municipality and a small museum detailing the history of Zahlé.
At the northern end of Zahlélies the Bardouni River Valley and its famous outdoor restaurant area of Wadi el-Aarayesh. Dine on traditional mezze and mechoui while admiring the river, before finishing your meal off with ice-cream from one of the many cafes.
Zahlé is around 1.5 hours’ drive east of Beirut and connected by regular bus services. The city itself is compact and easy to explore on foot and taxis are readily available.
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