Bhamdoun

District of Aley

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Bhamdoun

Arabic: بحمدون
Located in the District of Aley, Bhamdoun is once again famous for its world-class wines.

Etymology

Origins
Legend has it the name originated from two villages – Hama and Dun – and was merged into one to become Bhamdoun.

Location

Co-Ordinates
Longitude: 33 ° 48 ’35” N Latitude: 35 ° 39′ 19″ E Area: • City 6.97 km2 Elevation: 1150 m
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Discover Bhamdoun

Just ten minutes from Aley, Bhamdoun rises to 1,100 meters above sea level, overlooking the panoramic and pristine Lamartine Valley. Cradled by a soft, fresh breeze scented with the delicate aroma of linden blossoms in the spring and summer, Bhamdoun offers a return to the glorious days of yesteryear.

Tradition has it that the name Bhamdoun originated from two villages, one called Hama, the other Dun, and through construction became one. Bayt Hamdun became Bhamdoun.

Two separate villages compose the town – Bhamdoun-el-mhatta (literally meaning “Bhamdoun the station”) and Bhamdoun-el-day’aa (“Bhmadoun the village”). The Bhamdoun area is managed by two municipalities, Dayaa and Mhatta. The municipality of Bhamdoun Station broke away from the original municipality, that of Bhamdoun Village, more than 100 years ago, following the installation of the railway station and the creation of many shops in the area.

A railroad once linked Bhamdoun to Beirut, Aley and Sofar, with the train station being a prominent feature of the village for many years.

Bhamdoun was once one of Lebanon’s most renowned and favorite summer resorts. Today, the town has regained some of its past tourism industry as most of its hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers have been renovated or rebuilt.

Bhamdoun has preserved many of the assets that once made it one of the most popular resorts for Beirut and Gulf tourists. This beutiful village offers a happy medium between a spring that has yet bid farewell and a summer that looks (very) hot elsewhere. Linden trees in bloom embalm the streets, alleys and squares, impeccably clean. Between vineyards and orchards that extend as far as the eye can see, the sun beats down, certainly, but it is quickly counterbalanced by the refreshing, clean air, which is the prerogative of Bhamdoun.

Whether in Dayaa or Mhatta,  visitors can stroll through the ancient streets to discover the old buildings of the village, some of which are beautifully restored, while others still bear the stigma of decades of war.

Famous Places - Bhamdoun

Known for its wine heritage and famous for its grapes and “terroir”, the wine of Bhamdoun was once reserved for the happy few who visited it. There was a time when Bhamdoun alone produced 160,000 tons of grapes, of which 40% was devoted to the production of wine.

Today, thanks to the efforts of dedicated and passionate entrepreneurs, winemaking in Bhamdoun has undergone a renaissance, and its wines are now tasted and celebrated around the globe.

Chateau Belle-Vue was started in the spring  of 2000 when Naji and Jill Boutros planted their first vines. Apart from reviving the growing of vines in the region, they have helped restore the status of Bhamdoun wines as amongst the best in the world.

Chateau Cana, on the border of Bhamdoun and Ras el Harf, is the label of Fadi Gerges, a dentist and human rights activist with a passion for wine. With the aim of encouraging the families of 30 villages to return to their homes, he set about turning abandoned lands into vineyards and producing world-class wines.

The Bhamdoun synagogue, built in 1910, was one of three grand synagogues in Lebanon. It was abandoned shortly before the civil war which started in 1975, but the shell of the structure still stands. An example of one-of-a-kind architecture in Lebanon, it was built for the many Jewish tourists who spent summer in Bhamdoun. Access to the synagogue is by permit only.

Famous Faces - Bhamdoun

The great Lebanese photographer, Khalil Raad was born in Bhamdoun in 1854. He is one of the few photographers to whom we owe the image archives of Lebanon and Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dr. Ayoub Thabet (1885-1947) – Doctor and politician, he studied in the United States, supported French politics, and participated in the Arab Conference in Paris 1913. He survived hanging in 1913 because he was outside Lebanon when Jamal Pasha sentenced him to death. He fled Lebanon to France and then to New York during World War I, where he attacked the Turkish rule. In the US, he established an Association that raised money and helped Lebanese residents during the famine.

He returned to Beirut after the war and was elected as a minority MP, member of the First Representative Council 1922-1925, Senator 1926-1927, appointed deputy 1927-1929, elected deputy 1934-1937,
Deputy Appointed 1937-1939, Deputy Elected 1943-1947, Minister of Interior, Health and Ambulance 1928, Secretary of State 1936, Head of State of Lebanon from March 18 to 21, 1943, was the only Protestant who reached the Presidency of the State even by appointment, Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs.

Dr. Habib Tabet (1894-1953): Doctor and poet, Director of the Hekmeh University.

Dr. Michel Tabet, lawyer and university professor, born in Bhamdoun in 1944 – Ph.D. in Public Law,
Head of the Department of International Studies, Issues and Health Relations at the Ministry of Health 1983-1988 and then Head of the Department of The Treasury,
Head of Preparation and Training Department and Director of the National Institute of Management and Development of the Service Council
Civil until 1994, Government Commissioner to the General Disciplinary Council, Professor of Administrative Law at the Faculty of Law of the Jesuit University, President of the Disciplinary Council 1999.

Farid Habib: Diplomat, born in Bhamdoun 1947, held several positions – Diplomatic Ambassador and Head of Delegations, Director of Expatriates Commissioned 1983, Lebanon’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO 1984, Holder of Several Medals, with Research and Studies.

Ibrahim Saad Khairallah (1885-1971) – Lawyer, jurist, thinker and politician, Diploma in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, Professor of Higher Studies – 1904, President of the Political Chamber of Egypt 1916-1924, Member of the New York Bar Association – 1931, Beirut – 1932 . The author of the Law of the Protestant Community in Lebanon and Syria. He wrote several books in Arabic and English.

He was Mayor of Hamdoun 1920-1953.

Khalil Ibrahim Khairallah: Educator, founder of the Arab Institute in Bhamdoun,
Mayor of Bhamdoun for 45 years from 1953-1998.

Shawky Khairallah: Military, politician, thinker and writer, participated in the attempted coup of the Syrian National Social Party on the regime in Lebanon in 1961.
He was arrested, tried and imprisoned, then released. He wrote several books.

Dr. Nabih Amin Fares (1906-1963): University professor, researcher and author, Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Literature, taught at Princeton University and worked as a curator on Arabic manuscripts in that library.
Professor of Arab History at the American University of Beirut and President of the Graduate Council and its History Department.
He held 15 conferences on Arab studies at the AUB, and wrote many papers and books.

Dr. Ricardo Michel Al-Habr –
Environmental activist, scientific researcher and university professor, Ph.D. in science and biology, professor at the American University, founder of the Friends of Nature Association 1971
Member of the International Federation for The Conservation of the Environment, he has numerous lectures, studies and exhibitions on the subject of the environment.

The acclaimed artist Hafis Joachim Bertschinger was born in Bhamdoun in 1933. He lived in the village until the age of 12, when he moved to Zurich. He works primarily as a sculptor and painter, but also as a writer and designer. He has studios in Switzerland, Japan and Morocco.

Author and historian Kamal Salibi was born in the village of Bhamdoun in 1929. He wrote many controversial books, but Salibi is most known for his A House Of Many Mansions (published in 1988), a book that rewrote the history of Lebanon. 

Lebanese politician Violette Khaïrallah Safadi was born and bred in Bhamdoun, though she now resides in Tripoli. She is currently Minister of State for the Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth.

KHALIL RAAD
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History of Bhamdoun

As much as Bhamdoun is known for its grapes and wines, it is hrissé which is the signature dish of this village.

The tradition dates back to 1851.

Bhamdounis are very proud of this dish, and especially of all the history that revolves around it.

On the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, celebrated on August 15 of each year, a festival is organized in tribute to the Blessed Virgin. All the inhabitants gather, all religions combined, to prepare this hrissé.

More than 200 kg of wheat and 25 sheep cook in large cauldrons over a wood fire all night to prepare the  hrissé which will be distributed to all the locals  and visitors alike.

The story goes that in the 19th century, around 1851, an epidemic struck Bhamdoun and killed many people.

In Marjeyoun, South Lebanon, the Blessed Virgin appeared. She asked the faithful to transport an old church icon from this village to Bhamdoun. When the icon arrived in Bhamdoun, the plague disappeared. A few months later, the inhabitants decided to return the icon to its original village. The plague returned immediately and they had to bring it back. The icon is since in Bhamdoun and the hrissé is prepared every year.

"more words soon"

more info about Bhamdon coming soon

At a turn of an inner road in Bhamdoun, a sign declares: Le Telegraph.

Le Telegraph de Belle-Vue de Bhamdoun is no longer, today, as the old people of the village knew it. During the Second World War, what is today a restaurant was the seat of the communications station of the Free France of General de Gaulle, who, it is said, often went to the village in the summer. It was also, at a given moment, the place of residence of the French ambassador who was in this village especially because his son suffered from pulmonary diseases, and the climate of Bhamdoun relieved his ailment. Le Telegraphe building has been magnificently restored by Chateau Belle-Vue’s Jill and Naji Boutros.

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Bhamdoun Station

The stones tell better than anyone, perhaps, the story of Bhamdoun. The facade of the railway station, built in 1898, is still riddled with bullets, an impact that is not the only injury of the station. The suspension of its activity in 1983, in the wake of the Israeli invasion of 1982, is its greatest wound, ever open, taking into account that Bhamdoun al-Mhatta developed when the station was was opened and a major economic activity was formed around it. 
Even in the state in which it is, the station remains one of the historical sites of Bhamdoun and undoubtedly worth the detour. It is true that it no longer leads anywhere, but it is enough to go there to dive into the atmosphere of a glorious past.

Picture of Heather & Sami Eljurdi

Heather & Sami Eljurdi

Founders • Archivists • Editors

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