August 02, 2016 North Lebanon Lebanon Middle East

BekaaKafra: The Highest Village in the Middle East

Bekaa Kafra (Arabic: بقاع كفرا‎‎) is a Lebanese village located in the Bsharri District in Northern Lebanon. Bekaa Kafra is located in front of the village of Bsharri across the Kadisha Valley. It is the birth town of Saint Charbel. Bekaa Kafra has an altitude ranging from 1500 m to 1800 m at its highest point, making it and officially the highest village in Lebanon and Middle-East.

Bekaa Kafra has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. It is cold in winter for two reasons: Its location in Northern Lebanon, and its high altitude. Temperatures in winter average around 0 °C and can reach -10 °C to -20 °C. Temperatures in summer average around 21 °C, but they may reach 28 °C to 30 °C in July and August, but can also drop to as low as 6 °C at night. Snow in winter can accumulate up to 3 meters and occasionally more.

Location and History

  • The denomination is a Syriac world composed of “Bekaa” which means “land”, and “Kafra” which means “fertility and goodness”. Consequently, Bekaakafra means the fertile land.
  • It is the highest inhabited town in Lebanon and the Middle East with an altitude of 1800m.
  • The historian Fouad Ephram EL BOUSTANY brings back Bekaakafra to the Xth century. According to the study of the “Memory of European Houses” institution, Bekaakafra history goes back to two thousand years.
  • Churches and shrines drop the edges of the village of Bekaakafra: from the east Saint Hawchab (Eusebius), from the west Saint Mora, from the south Saint Saba, from the north the church of Our Lady.
  • The most eminent families: Makhlouf, Challita, Nakad, Elia, Fakhr, Maroun, Issa, Moubarak, Sarkis, Moussa, Lichàa, Daoud, El Khoury, Barakat, Béchara, Nehmeh, Kozhaya, Karam, Zaarour, Yammine, Boulos, Tannous, Trad, Bathani, Elias.
  • The house of prayer at the village are the same as in the monastery, people wake up early to the sound of the bells, they go to church, attend the mass and pray the matins in syriac; old people learned syriac at the Saint Hawchab school located at the edge of the village; then they go to their work in the fields praying the rosary, songs and hymns of Saint Ephrem; they come at noon to participate in the noon prayer and the Angelus and then go back to work; at night they pray the compline in syriac and read the synaxeriun which traces the life of saints that were taken as examples in everyday life; finally, before going to bed, they recite the rosary and latinies before performing the procession.

The exemplary town

In view of its natural and heritage features, the most prominent stone built old houses, the European institution “Houses Memory” adopted Bekaakafra as an exemplary town. The objectif is to make of it an international museum. Studies were prepared to show up the ancient character in it’s houses, streets and entrances. Bekaakafra’s municipality continues the work in order to complete this project which constitutes an example of both environmental and religious tourism.

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