Where to eat
It is inland, 120km from Beirut and 25km from Tyre, in the Nabatiyeh district, that Tibneen lies. Set in the heart of the Jabal Amel plateau, the village was named after the Phoenician god Tabnet, who symbolized strength and protection. Later it was called Tibneen by the Arabs and then Toron by the Crusaders, using an archaic French word for isolated hill or high plateau.
Vestiges of Tibneen’s immense history still exist, with archeological findings dating from the early Stone Age preserved at the American University of Beirut, and Stone Age megaliths discovered on the road connecting Tibneen to Beit Yahoun in Nabatiyeh housed at the Institut de Paleontologie Humaine in Paris. Tibneen has been an important landmark for many conquests and civilizations, spanning from ancient history onwards. Set at between 700 and 800 meters altitude and extending over approximately 748 hectares, the town once acted as a crossroads between Tyre, Damascus and Jerusalem. When the Crusaders came and established rule, the locals enjoyed a certain amount of stability and autonomy, with their own coinage forged from red copper. At the time, the surrounding land was a fertile base for olive and wheat production, giving rise to Jabal Amel’s status as one of the Crusaders’ granaries.
A cornerstone of Tibnin’s Castle is believed to date back to 850 B.C., but it was in 1106 that it took its most well-known form as a major Crusader castle. Wars and sieges played out in the following years, with the castle conquered by Saladin in 1187, recaptured by Crusaders in 1229, later destroyed and then rebuilt in the mid18th century by a local sheik. From its hilltop vantage point today, the castle offers a 360-degree vista across the neighboring villages of Haris, Baraashit and Chakra, whose ancient remains are also worth stopping by to see.
On a walk through the town, look out for the old paved alleys, known as zakouk, weaving their way between clusters of old houses. Visit on a Friday and you’ll find the traditional market Souk El Jomaa in full swing from 8am to 1pm. The market, dating back to 1892, draws farmers and traders from different parts of the region to show off their wares. Stay until evening and you’ll catch the locals indulging in a favorite pastime, taking a stroll along the Kazdoura, the long stretch of sidewalk embracing the hilly eastern area of the town. More online lebanontraveler.com A variety of welcoming restaurants can be found in the area, including Tallet Al Kashef (03 770587, 07 325991), Hamoud, El Day’ah, and Cafeteria El Ghouroub. Fast food lovers can head to Goody’s (07 326275) for a tasty bite. A picnic is another option, with 50 hectares of pine and cypress trees as a backdrop.