Tabarja

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Tabarja
طبرجا - Tαπασγια
City
Map showing the location of Tabarja within Lebanon
Map showing the location of Tabarja within Lebanon
Tabarja
Location within Lebanon
Coordinates: 34°02′N 35°38′E / 34.033°N 35.633°E / 34.033; 35.633Coordinates: 34°02′N 35°38′E / 34.033°N 35.633°E / 34.033; 35.633
Country  Lebanon
Governorate Mount Lebanon Governorate
District Keserwan District
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Dialing code +961

Tabarja is a coastal town in Lebanon, situated in Kesrouan, 28 kilometers north of Beirut.

Tabarja's name is a corruption of the Greek, ΠΕΡΙΦΕΡΕΙΑ (PERIF-ER-YA), which means "district headquarters" and was once home to an ancient castle which has since been lost to modern development (though artifacts, such as Phoenician burial pots, were recovered by private collectors in the early 20th century during said modern construction).

The main attraction of the town is its picturesque fishing port where Saint Paul is said to have set sail on one of his missionary trips to Europe. One of the modern beach resorts built near the port is named in honor of Saint Paul. The other resorts in the town are named after another local figure, King Bargis, whose castle they are built atop of alongside the local church. The Triple church of St. George is a popular Maronite site in the town and features an ossuary with the town's individual family crypts. The religious structure is over 500 years old and was built on a pagan site, Phoenician and Roman, referenced as a probable altar to Adonis.

Large Roman stones are still visible today in the walls of the church, as well as undated stones featuring crusader era reliefs from reused older stones. A sea level cave not too far from the church is also named in honor of Saint George, but has been severely damaged over the years due to modernization. The Saint George Cave had been considered sacred for centuries, and sick infants were brought by their mothers for immersion in the water of the cave in order to receive a supernatural cure through Saint George.[1]

Tabarja is home to numerous Greco-Roman vaults, and the Tabarja bay is also home to numerous underwater caves and a freshwater current from an unknown source. The town also features a unique limestone and mortar sewer system built by the French and expanded by the local municipality at the turn of the century. It is also one of the few towns in the world to still feature a fully functioning and integrated aqueduct system that services the older limestone homes and the farmlands to the Southwest. The town once also featured a railway that passed through the main street, which was operational until the early 1990s but has since been damaged by rampant modernization. The town also houses various examples of 19th century and earlier Lebanese homes, the Second Azzi Home of the 19th century is of architectural relevance and is built on a cliffside using mortar and limestone stilts which once bordered with the local bay. Local oral tradition states that said house was built over a chest of gold coins, and that a long dead ghoul of the Azzi family appears at the equinox to point in the direction of the buried loot.

The town once featured old salt evaporation ponds on its South-West coastline, but they have since been destroyed and replaced with modern construction. The town also features a very small undated mortar lighthouse, which is no longer in operation and has been welded sealed shut. The lighthouse is thought to date back to at least the time in which ship-bound trading was common in the area, which ended around the early 20th century. The lighthouse is built atop the relatively vast and unique rock formations that border most of the town's coastline.

Tabarja today is a popular summer resort town, Tabarja Beach in particular which features a dramatic deep-water cove dominated by a 14th-century watch tower. While near the Tabarja Bay or Saint Paul's Bay King Bargis I, King Bargis II, Saint Paul's Resort, Casa Del Mar, El Mina Restaurant and other establishment compliment the local flavour. [2]

Tabarja features the second eldest resort hotel (Superseded by St. Georges Resort of Beirut) from the Lebanese economic boom of the 20th century. The resort is known as King Bargis I, named in honour of King Bargis of local fame. Inquiring with the locals as to the story of King Bargis is a frequent event, as some of the elderly maintain the town's dying oral history tradition.

Tabarja is also unique due to its unique composition of foreign originating Maronite families, such as the Houses of Azzi and the House of Nakouzi respectively.

Tabarja is a historically relevant town, but has been frequently threatened by modernization and reckless disregard for the local history. Centuries old limestone churches and manor homes stand beside contemporary construction that dates only to the latter part of the Civil War. Cobblestone and dirt streets have been replaced with crackling tarmac, and new construction continues to threaten the town's rich history. No conservation efforts have to date been put in effect, and the town is considered by many to be an example of unregulated modernization.

Tabarja was also one of the last towns in Lebanon to host a public execution, prompting the de facto abstinence from the death penalty. [3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tabarja, Lebanon
  2. ^ Saudi Aramco World : Jounieh: Jewel Of Lebanon
  3. ^ [1]

News coverage of the execution