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The Chouf

Only 20 minutes outside Beirut, the Chouf is a region that carries with it echoes of Lebanese history among age-old river valleys and forested mountains. It once was the seat and homeland of Lebanon’s emirates centuries ago. Its unspoiled wilderness is scattered with quaint little villages where life is a beat slower, idyllic and resplendent. The Chouf is famous for its arak distilleries and mulberry orchards, from which artisanal wines are made. Be sure to visit the well-known Chouf Biosphere Reserve, the largest natural cedar reserve in the country, with over 250 kilometers (155 miles) of hiking trails. If you’re planning on spending a few hours in the Chouf, be sure to check out the impressively steep caves of the Niha Fortress, which is also part of the Reserve.  

         

Getting there:

Take the highway out of Beirut headed south toward Saida (Sidon). About 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from Beirut, take the Damour exit on the right. You’ll find yourself driving alongside the Damour river bed on winding roads that take you higher and closer to the heart of the Chouf.  

Things to do

St. Michael Winery

A boutique winery in the village of Maasser al-Chouf, in the foothills of Mount Lebanon, St. Michael’s makes a wide variety of wines and other...

Chateau Florentine

Château Florentine, opened in 1997, overlooks the village of Majdel Maouche in the midst of its vineyards in the Chouf. The winemakers here focus...

Moussa Castle

Just outside Deir al-Qamar and before you get to Beiteddine, you’ll find one solitary castle on the side of the road, perched over the green valley...

Chhim

Chhim is a town that lies between Beiteddine and the sea shore. There, you’ll find a small Corinthian temple that dates back to the mid-2nd century....

Wahib al-Bteddini Museum of Art

Dedicated to the memory of talented painter and sculptor Wahib al-Bteddini, who passed away in 2011, the museum showcases 400 of his oil paintings,...

Cave of Arts

Engineered out of old, historic tunnels and gardens that date back to the Ottoman era, the Cave of Arts, or Kahef al-Founoun, possesses a collection...

Niha Fortress

Part of the Chouf Reserve, Niha Fortress is an eclectic site, and while perfectly safe, not necessarily for the faint of heart. The ancient fortress...

Beiteddine

Beiteddine is the crown jewel of Mount Lebanon. After the Maani dynasty died out in the 17th century, their relatives, the Chehab emirs, inherited...