The Land of Fruits and Vegetables

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The light dusting of snow on the roofs and on the leaves of confused budding plants lightly fall through sepia skies. The otherworldly glow of the final throes of a dying sunlight lights up this sleepy town. In summer the air is crisp and nature revels in its expected garden state while in winter thick snow covers the hills with a hand of white as skiers fill its ski slopes gliding from where the air is icy and brittle and serenity flows calmly unnoticed to where mechanical lifts are busy getting people from one place to another, two separate worlds a couple of minutes apart.

The name “Faraya” stands for “The land of fruits and vegetables” in Phoenician due to its soil fertility. Located in the Keserwan District in Lebanon, Faraya has an altitude ranging from 1600 m to 2300 m. The road to Faraya from the coastal highway passes through Ajaltoun, Ashqout, Faytroun, Mairouba, Hrajel.

Faraya is most famous for its ski resort situated just above the village of Ouyoune El Simane in Kfardebian. The Mzar area boasts numerous ski runs with a capacity of 20,000 skiers per hour, 18 ski lifts and 10 snow grooming machines. Split in three connected domains: Refuge (accessible only from Mzaar InterContinental Hotel), Jonction (principal domain, with a new ski park for freestylers) and Wardeh (the latest extension), the slopes are categorized into three difficulty levels, “Black” being the most advanced. It’s an excellent spot for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding or any other snow-related activity under the sun.

Although Faraya is known for its snow and summer hikes, the area is also home to many natural and archeological sites. It is home to two springs, beautifully named after what truly sounds like the essence of this country, milk and honey. Nab’ el-Laban (spring of yogurt) and Nab’ el-Assal (spring of honey) cascade down two steep valleys. Perched just above the waterfall of Nab’ el Laban spring is a Canaanite temple dedicated to the fertility goddess Astarte. The area is also home to well-preserved temples, columns, altars, tombs and a Roman temple partly cut out of rock. Dedicated to the god Adonis, the temple has six Corinthian columns overlooking a sacrificial altar. At the summit of Mzaar Mountain, at 2,467m, stands the highest chapel in the Middle East, built from the ruins of a fortress. A few kilometers away, a breath-taking natural bridge, Jisr el Hajar (the bridge of stone) near Faqra, arches over the Nab’ El Laban River. This natural bridge is famous for its natural beauty and its picturesque presence among the untapped landscape. This unique erosion-made arch rises 38 meters over the river, offering an extraordinary scene of nature’s calm beauty, is dotted with fossilized seashells embedded in the surrounding strata, dating back 200 million years.

Like many areas in Lebanon, it is quiet fascinating how the passing of time changes the importance of the landscape. Once named the land of fruit and vegetable by the Phoenician, having left traces of the temples and places of worshipped to their Gods, now famous for its ski resort anticipated by many. Its past might be over looked by most yet not far from the hustle and bustle of men’s activity lies a latent silent history revealing itself to those who seek it.

To my Lebanon, a true land of beauty and bounty, blessed with its beautiful nature within hands reach.

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