The district of Aley is one of six districts in the Governorate of Mount Lebanon. The Damascus Highway marks its northern limit, Damour River its southern limit. It stretches from the Mediterranean coast to the west, rising to the east towards the peaks of the Barouk Mountain, at an altitude of 2000 metres, covering an area of 263 square kilometres.
It is bounded on the north by Baabda District, on the east by Zahle District, on the west by Bekaa, and the south by the Chouf.
The administrative centre is located in Aley, and comprises 57 villages – including Aitat, Bhamdoun, Baysour, Kfarmatta, Souk el Gharb, Sofar and Choueifat.
The word “Aley” is derived from Aramaic, meaning “high place,” in reference to the City’s high altitude above sea level (from 600m up to 950m).
Until the end of the 19th century Aley was just another small mountain village, but when the railroad linking Beirut with Damascus was built in 1892, it gained prominence and took on a new life.
The railroad provided the residents of Beirut easy means of transportation to the mountains, and this made Aley a popular destination to spend the summer months and enjoy its pleasant climate and panoramic views of Beirut and Sanine Mountain.
Aley became known as “The Bride of Summer” – “Arousat al Masayef” – a welcoming escape from the heat of the capital.
Ottoman governors of Mount Lebanon chose Aley as their summer residence, as did many Lebanese Presidents and Prime Ministers, Arab leaders and aristocratic families.
Luxurious hotels were built and Aley soon became an international destination for the rich and famous.
During the 1960s, Aley’s hotels and casinos hosted Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Farid Al Atrash, Asmahan, Sabah, Fairuz and many more.