Undis­cov­ered Jezzine You will dis­cover a palace, the un­fin­ished dream of a Jezzi­nite

Jane Glea­son, chief of par ty of the Le­banon In­dustr y Value Chain Devel­op­ment Project (LIVCD), ex­plores Jezzine’s lesser-known faces from its tran­quil vil­lages to a lo­cal ec­cen­tric’s palace

Lebanon Traveler - - READERS EXPERIENCE -

Jezzine’s trea­sures are many; from the dra­matic wa­ter fall that drops from a great height, guard­ing the en­trance to the town, to its ma­jes­tic pine for­est that forms a green blan­ket from the top of a wellde­fined r idge to the Wadi Jezzine be­low. And, hid­den be­yond the main tour is­tic sites of the town of Jezzine and its sur­round­ing re­gion that vis­i­tors are most likely to seek, are trea­sures that re­quire a bit more ef for t to find. The Jezzine re­gion has many small vil­lages tucked into val­leys and moun­tain­sides, all pic­turesque with a slow pace of life. One such vil­lage, Qay­touli, is lo­cated a few kilo­me­ters of f the main Saida-jezzine road. Like most small vil­lages, it is a bub­ble of tran­quil countr y living. Nar­row streets wind through the large stone build­ings and the tall steeples of two old churches r ise high above the olive trees, com­pet­ing with the pines. Res­i­dents lan­guidly sip cof fee and smoke shisha on the quiet street cor­ners. I first vis­ited Qay­touli dur­ing my first months in this coun­try with a col­league and was in­tro­duced to a side of Le­banon that is so dif­fer­ent to the typ­i­cal touris­tic des­ti­na­tions of Beirut, By­b­los and Baal­bek. The down­town area of the town of Jezzine con­tains a num­ber of sou­venir shops, many of which sell the fa­mous Jezzine firebird cut­ler y. In­stead of vis­it­ing the re­tail­ers, I rec­om­mend vis­it­ing the work­shops to see cut­ler y man­u­fac­tur ing first-hand. Bou­los Bou Rached has been mak­ing Jezzine cut­ler y for decades. He has a small work­shop on the ground floor of his home, where he wel­comes vis­i­tors to watch the pro­duc­tion. It is sur­pris­ingly sim­ple. He re­quires ver y few tools – a rasp, electr ic dr ill, vise, and pol­ish­ing ma­chine – to form the dis­tinc­tive han­dle for the cut­ler y. Af ter watch­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing process, vis­i­tors are in­vited to have a cof fee or tea.

The Dr. Far id Sarhel Palace is an­other intr igu­ing des­ti­na­tion of f the beaten track. To get there, take the Far id Sarhel Road nor th east out of the town of Jezzine. Be­hind an area of thick veg­e­ta­tion, you will dis­cover a palace, the un­fin­ished dream of a Jezzi­nite who wished to build a spe­cial place in his home­town. The palace en­trance is Ot­toman style, with a pointed arch and multi-colored stonework. Upon en­ter ing, the ex­tent of Dr. Sarhel’s am­bi­tion is ob­vi­ous, yet the rub­ble and dir t-cov­ered floors show a dream not com­pletely re­al­ized. The main rooms con­tain an eclec­tic mix of cul­tural images rem­i­nis­cent of land­marks in Iran, Egypt, Iraq, an­cient Greece and, of course, Le­banon. There is a Turk­ish bath and in an­other room an im­age sim­i­lar to the Tree of Life, em­bed­ded with a star. In sev­eral lo­ca­tions there are car vings il­lus­trat­ing the pro­duc­tion of arak, and the in­evitable con­se­quences of dr ink­ing too much. One can only won­der, with this mish­mash of images, what mes­sage Sarhel hoped to con­vey. The work on the palace carr ied on for three decades, un­til his death. On the ground floor ter­race, there is an old bat­tered Amer­i­can car and all the equip­ment used for the con­struc­tion of the build­ing. It ap­pears that the mo­ment he passed away, the work­ers aban­doned their jobs, leav­ing be­hind an in­com­plete master­piece. But with that half re­al­ized dream, there re­mains an intr igu­ing mon­u­ment to one man’s am­bi­tion that is for­ever stuck in the fi­nal mo­ments of its con­struc­tion.

The Dr. Farhid Sarhel Palace (top lef t) and in­te­rior (bot­tom right). Pho­tos: Jane Glea­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.