The Calm and Rested

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A certain air of solemn solitude hangs above the air of this dormant village as if time is afraid to stir it from its deep sleep. Somehow its beautiful old stone houses with red roofs have withstood the test of time, as if cast under an eternal spell.

As you arrive to Douma from Assia, you can’t but stand at awe looking down at this beautiful village nestled peacefully in a valley surrounded by mountains that seem to descend steeply to the sea.

Douma stands at the head of a long fertile valley known as Kfar Hilda surrounded by mountains. Almost all its houses are made of red bricks. It enjoys a unique temperate climate praised by physicians as the ultimate place of medical refuge. Its ground is rich and welcomes all sorts of plants and has an abundance of olive trees, grapevines, and apple trees.

It is a part of the Batroun district and borders Tannourine from the east, Bsha’leh from the south. Douma has 450 old houses, an ancient market made of 110 shops and five gateways to Batroun, Jbeil, Hermel, Baalbeck, Tripoli and Akkar.   Douma’s strategic location turned the town into a compass that guided convoys through what was known as “Al Sham road” connecting Syria to Douma via Baalbek and Hermel, towards the coastline. The movement of convoys was accompanied by opening of a market called “El Bendr” that had a significant role in strengthening the town’s economy. Douma witnessed a remarkable social, industrial and economic rise between 1881 and 1914 known as its golden age.

Douma’s geographic location made the town a passageway for the transport of tree trunks to the coast, where the Phoenicians used them to build ships.   During the Greek and Roman eras, it witnessed a prosperous period accompanied by the construction of many places of worship. One of these is the Asclapeo temple, its stones were later used in building a church named after St Dumyat. Legend has it that “Jawar Al Khayl” (the neighborhood of horses) was named following an incident when a Turkish envoy and his forty soldiers, coming to collect taxes, were poisoned during a dinner banquet and buried in that area with their horses after the envoy insisted on taking the Sheikh of Douma’s daughter as his wife.

Its name is believed to be Phoenician since it was used in the Hebrew with the same pronunciation Dumah meaning “calm and rest”. Dumah Al-Jendel is from the same root and might mean “calm and silence”. “Al-Jendel” means “big rock” and thus its translation may be the place of rock worship, which was widespread with the Semites. 

Father Kostantine Al-Mokhallissi thinks that the name is Greek, meaning “the house”, “the building”, or “the castle”. Douma is also named “Douma El Hadid” (Douma of Iron or Iron-Douma) due to the abundance of iron found it its soil and the superior craftsmanship of its blacksmiths.

Douma witnessed different civilizations, however the Ottoman Empire left the largest impact on Douma’s inhabitants. The majority of its infrastructure and housing was built between 1881 and 1914. For the construction of their beautiful dwellings, they called upon master stone craftsmen from the villages of Choueir and Khenchara. These men of the art allegedly introduced an advanced technique of stone laying, a secret of their know-how: the heights reached practically doubled, the width of the walls was brought down from 80 cm to 35 cm. Local craftsmen carried out the ironwork and woodwork.

Douma remains the most truthful representation of authentic Lebanese villages known for their red-tiled roof houses, green mountains, refreshing climate, and heartwarming hospitality.

A true haven of tranquility, its small paved streets welcome you with superb old wooden doors, some of them hand painted that open to reveal fresh local produce, beautiful artisanal works, and craftsmen forging wood or iron. Like all the other villages of Lebanon, what makes Douma so pretty is its kind and loving people, who welcome you in their homes with the most beautiful and musical words “tfadalo, sharfouna.” (come in, your presence honors us).

 

 

 

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