186-v2.jpg 185-v2.jpg

Enfeh is a small fishing town on the coast of North Lebanon originally built on a narrow, rocky peninsula some 400 meters long and 100 wide. Its most unique feature is that it is the only town throughout the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to be carved out of its rocky surroundings.

 

Enfeh dates back to ancient times. The Phoenicians used the place as a shipyard for the construction of their vessels. Almost all of the peninsula and cape of Enfeh are covered with an intricate series of steps, niches, tombs, industrial works, tanks, cisterns, passageways, basins, and foundations of ancient rooms, cut from the native grey limestone. Added to these are Enfeh’s famous salt pans, also cut out of the rock. In fact, the town is rumored to have been the first site of human salt cultivation.

 

Taht el-Rih, “Under the Wind”, is a rock-strewn beach marking this historic region where local fishermen and sailors met. This barren point, today the abode of goats—where not utilized for salt pans—was once a mighty fortress area. The Crusader castle of Nephin, fief of the Counts of Tripoli, stood here.

 

There is no trace to the Crusader Castle of Nephin today, but the town itself is not entirely lacking in relics of the Crusades. On the southern side, not far from Enfeh, Deir al-Natour, the Monastery of the Watchman, overlooks the coast, attached to the Balamand Monastery of the Greek Orthodox patriarchate, founded in 1157. Deir al-Natour, which stands on a promontory facing Enfeh, has an attractive interior cloister and is surrounded by a forest of bilberry, behind which are stretches of olive and oak trees.

 

Enfeh is also home to one of the great engineering feats of the Middle Ages: Crusaders (some say the Phoenicians) cut an enormous, protective moat at sea level all the way across the peninsula, stretching over 100 yards through the rock. This gargantuan trough remains today essentially in its original state and guarantees a visit to Enfeh is well worth the trip.

 

Enfeh is also home to a number of ancient churches, the oldest of which, Our Lady of the Wind (Saydet el Reeh) contains remnants of its original Byzantine frescoes. Also in Enfeh is Lebanon's sole surviving Romanesque Church, Saint Catherine, which was built by the Crusaders.

 

Other attractions include the 18th century Saint Simeon and the Archangel Gabriel Church; the church of

Saint George, the largest in town; and Saint John the Baptist an ancient monastery surrounded by green landscapes and some curious rock cuttings. The site hosts the Saint John festivals every summer.

 

Getting there

Enfeh is 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Beirut and 15 kilometers (nine miles) south of Tripoli. It is easily accessible from the Beirut-Tripoli highway, taking the Enfeh exit. it is also reachable by taking the Chekka exit and heading north, or the Balamand exit and heading south.

Phoenician Period Roman Period Crusader Period Byzantine Period Koura North Lebanon Spring Summer Autumn Winter Beaches Sightseeing Christian Religious Tourism Ecotourism Religious tourism Historical Tourism