Zgharta Travel Guide

Edit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
The new cultural center in Merdashia Zgharta

The new cultural center in Merdashia Zgharta

by zgharta.com

Zgharta is 150 metres above sea level and lies between the rivers of Jouit and Rashein. It is 23 kilometres from Ehden, 7 kilometres from the coastal city of Tripoli, 91 kilometres from the capital of Lebanon, Beirut and 82 kilometres from the nearest Syrian city, Tartous. Its history and people are closely associated with the village of Ehden, see separate page for the history of Ehden.

Origins of the name “Zgharta ”

Various explanations have been given as to the meaning of Zgharta. The majority are of the opinion that it relates to meanings relating to fortresses, citadels, barricades and the like. One writer has suggested that it derived from the Aramaic word “zaghar” meaning the fortress or alternatively from the syriac word “zeghartay” meaning the barricades.

The creation of Zgharta

There is some evidence that the area of Zgharta was inhabited in 200 BC and that in the 2 nd and 3 rd centuries there were fortifications. Its present day existence and its close association with the village of Ehden begin in the16 th century.

The story of that beginning is recorded in a manuscript in the Syriac language, which belonged to Romanos Afandi Yammine son of Father George Yammine and is now held by his grandson Youssef Boutros Romanos Yammine. It describes how people of Ehden had acquired “the farmland of Zgharta”:

“ On the eve of the 24th of January 1515, Al-Ghazali, Governor of Damascus along with Sannan Pasha, Minister of Sultan Salim, had reached Ehden travelling along the route of Damascus-Beqa Valley-Dahr al-Kadib-the cedars. They were transporting funds to Sultan Salim who was in Egypt. They were welcomed as guests by Sheik Iskandar son of Ehden’s leader, whilst other members of their travelling entourage were guests of the people of Ehden. Heavy snow falls and extremely freezing conditions lasted two full days prompting them to stay five days in Ehden where Sheikh Iskandar and Bishop of Ehden Kiriakos Douiehi provided for their guests great hospitality, generosity and kindness. Responding to a request by their guests, the people of Ehden endeavoured to clear the heavy snow off the road as far as Hayrouna valley overlooking the coast, accompanying their guests to safety where they made their farewells to them with fitting accolades”.

In April 1516, Bishop Doueihi and Sheik Iskandar received a letter from Al-Ghazali, saying on being told by his minister, Sannan Pasha of their and peoples hospitality and assistance, Sultan Salim asked that he rewarded them which he promised the Sultan he would. On his return to Damascus Al- Ghazali invited the people of Edhen to meet him in Tripoli.  At the request of Sheikh Iskander he agreed to provide the people with a place to live away from the harsh winter conditions, which they faced in Ehden. Al- Ghazali readily agreed to this request. Accompanied by his officials Sheikh Iskandar and Bishop Douiehi went to choose a suitable place in the Al-Zawiyi region. They chose a derelict farm, which contained a few demolished houses and a tower in the middle, situated between the rivers Joueit and Rashein. Al-Ghazali, on the return of his officials with the measurements of the site, promised to obtain a “Shahani firman” (decree) from Sultan Salim whereby ownership of the land would pass to the people of Ehden.

Some eight months later, 1517, the “Shahani firman” was granted but it was addressed to Sheikh Iskandar. Having collected the firman in Damascus and returning to Ehden the people there were aggrieved that the firman was addresses solely to Sheikh Iskandar, fearing that he and his relations could claim sole ownership. Bishop Douehi representing the people put this to Sheikh Iskandar and as a result he swore at the Mar Mama church that the given land known as “ Zgharta would be distributed equally between the people of Ehden”. 

In the next century a visitor to Zgharta recorded

“Zgharta is strictly a Maronite town. It represents a horrific nightmare for its enemy. Its youth is dressed in traditional clothing; white shirts decorated with yellow stitched embroidery, strongly tied “sherwal” pants along with long boots and topped by headband reflecting enormous heroism. Zgharta is a small village surrounded by an enclosure, and has a fortress beside the church of Virgin Mary. Zgharta used to be a drawn line between danger and worship, situated between Tripoli and the mountain. It would receive initial attacking strikes, then reply by returning those strikes back hitting the hearts of their enemy, and therefore, its people have been renowned and recognized as excellent fighters” 1602 Father Ghodar, Jesuit Priest.

Another later visitor in 1831 records that “From Tripoli I left for Zgharta, which is two hours away. Its land ids full of olive, mulberry, vines, apricot and lemon trees”   

In 1885 Zgharta incorporated the village of Ardate.     

The town of Zgharta was divided into five sectors in 1932: Saydeh Sharki (the area to the east side of Notre-Dame of Zgharta church), Saydeh Gherbi (west of the Church), Slayeb Shemali (northern side of the crossroads), Slayeb Janoubi (southern side of the crossroads) and Maaser . To be a citizen of Zgharta, you have to be registered in one of these five sectors.

Contributors

June 20, 2005 change by giorgio

Where World66 helps you find the best deals on Zgharta Hotels