Our Lady of Nourieh Monastery
At the top of the historic Deir el Nourieh cliffs of Ras Chekka (historically known as Cape Theoprosopon, which protrude into the sea at Hamat, in North Lebanon, the 17th-century monastery of Saydet el Nourieh (Our Lady of Nourieh) stands amidst the charming orchards and gardens of the village behind it. The scenery here is breathtaking.
The monastery’s structure is cloistered around an interior courtyard, and the church is laid out on a basilica plan.
Steep staircases lead down the cliff sides from the monastery to a small church built in a cave carved out of the cliff, exposed to the wind and sea. A number of old hermitages are also found on the scenic footpaths leading down.
There is a wetlands refuge here, as well, listed under the Ramsar Convention. Submarine freshwater springs off the coast of Ras Chekka are thought to enhance the biodiversity of the waters, making the Deir el Nourieh cliffs and promontory of a significant stopping point for migratory birds, notable species among which include the White Pelican and Purple Heron.
To get to the monastery take the main road to Chekka, but exit on the right side where the sign indicates Hamat. Here you’ll experience the incredible phenomenon of the road to Hamat:
The road parallel to the highway leading to the monastery is by all appearances an upward sloping road, but put your car in neutral and watch it roll uphill. Apparently you can observe the same by pouring water the on the pavement. The road is situated on what's known as a gravity hill, and it's actually just an optical illusion: what appears to be uphill in this case simply isn't.