Qadisha

Lebanon, November 2005: Prior to traveling to the Middle East I had read William Dalrymple’s 1997 book “From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium. It was in these pages that I’d first heard about the Qadisha valley. The mystery of the place intrigued me, so I was determined to visit it while in the area.

The valley is a deep gorge carved by the Qadisha River. Qadisha means “Holy” in Aramaic and the “Holy Valley” has sheltered Christian monastic communities for centuries. The integrity of the valley is at risk due to encroachment of human settlements, illegal building and inconsistent conservation activity. Although it is not yet on the UNESCO “in danger” list, there have been warnings that continued violations may lead to this step.

In the northern city of Tripoli I met three Slovenian travelers and asked them if they were keen for a bit of adventure- and they were. So the following day we set off, finding the appropriate local buses to take us up into the mountains to begin the adventure at Becharre and the nearby Cedars of God. Alas, the full story of what happened will have to wait for another day. Needless to say it did not end well: we got lost, day turned to night, we had no torches or food and hardly any water- and this was just the beginning of our troubles…

Stay posted for what happened next. In the meantime enjoy the film, cut from a 10 year old tape shot on a budget video camera…

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