This was our last day in Lebanon and another tour, to the south this time.The southern part of Lebanon doesn't get as many tourists but, is well weorth your time, as you will see. We were headed into Hezebollah country. The bus was fully packed this morning. When we got to the tour company office we switched to the larger bus as we had a larger group for this tour. We headed off with the guide giving us an overview of Lebanon history.
We traveled into another mountainous area of Lebanon.
The mountains weren't as tall but, the area was quite green. As we travel south we are met with another checkpoint with machine gun carrying military and a tank. After awhile, you get used to it, well not really. Our first destination was Bettadine / Beiteddine Palace. It was built over a 30 year period beginning in 1788. It is the greatest surviving achievement of 19th-century Lebanese architecture. It was built on the site of the Druze hermitage which was incorporated into the complex. The name actually means “house of faith”.
When we arrived we went through the “public” section Dar al-Baraniyyeh of the complex. It was intended for the general populace to gather and passing visitors were freely admitted.
This area has a commanding view of the valley and views if the city center across. From there we went to Dar al-Wousta or the central courtyard where the palace guards and offices were located. Then it was on to the Dar al-Harim the inner courtyard for the family.
The rooms of the Emir were so fantastic. They were heavily embellished and very well preserved. The details like water walls.cedar paneling, and many carved pieces were amazing. Unfortunately they would not allow us to take pictures in many of the rooms. The views from the gardens were simply breathtaking. There was also a large collection of mosaics in the gardens and old stables. I've seen many, many Roman mosaics and thee were many designs here that I've never seen anywhere.
We also got to see their bath which was wonderfully preserved. The inlaid marble designs were incredible. Also the unusual brass fixures intrigued me. I was very impressed by the door hinges. They were carved wood attached to the wall. Their design was very islamic elemental. It was really fascinating. Also, there was another interesting detail to be found. The workers on this construction were Christian and the design details, Islamic. To make their mark, in one of the hallways of the private residence, which was lit with circular holes in the ceiling with pieces of glass inserted, the design was a Christian cross. I wonder if anyone paid attention to this detail after construction?
After we finished the tour I headed to the toilet and Rob headed out to get a snack. There were vendors there because a festival was being held that night. I cleaned up and went to the shop. I was suddenly terrified because I realized that I had left my bag in the toilet and it had my passport and camera in it.
I went back and couldn’t find it. I rushed out to find Rob. He went back in and realized that I was looking in the wrong toilet because I used one going into the complex and another one coming out. Rob was running to the right one and saw a girl with the bag. She had found it and was taking it to the ticket office to turn in. Bag in hand and my heart rate returning to normal it was back to get snacks.
Rob bought us Lebanese pizzas. They fried the bread crust on a huge curved convex metal thing. Once they were half cooked cheese or a thyme sauce was added. We got one of each. We discovered that if you combine them, it was even better. We ate on bus on the way to Sidon. The only reason we were able to get a snack was because the previous tours had complained about not getting food until very late. She informed us that we would not be eating until around 3:30 pm. The guide wanted to prevent the hunger complaints.
On our way out of town, we passed the city center which was very quaint. It had much of the old architecture with a central open area with an ancient mosque in the middle. It was nicely restored and would be a great place for further exploration.