the top of the village, the chapel sits at the back of a
grassy terrace. (Ask for Mar Butros. If the door is locked
enquire at one of the houses nearby.)
Entrance to the chapel is through an arched
doorway. A modern altar with a niche has been installed
against the north wall, while niches for sarcophagi are cut
into the other walls. The uneven rocky floor is evidently part
of the original cave. In the center is a rough stone pillar.
The Chapel of St. Simon (in the distance to
the right of the cave) can be reached by going south around
the great cliff of the cave chapel and following a trail
leading from the village outskirts. This small church has been
restored in modern times, but the foundations are still of the
Crusader era. The key is kept in the door.
Above the cave in the forest overlooking
the village are six Roman Forestry Inscriptions dating from
the time of Hadrian (117-138 AD).
While the modernized chapel of St. Simon is
somewhat disappointing, the location is superb, with
magnificent craggy landscapes and sweeping valleys below.
Continuing around the church you find a great gorge where a
river rushes in spring.
This roadway goes on to join the Roman Road
at a place called Draj Mar Sem'an leading over the mountains
to the town of Yamouneh in the Beqaa valley. Stone-cut steps
signal that you have found the place. Beside the steps a worn
inscription in the limestone proclaims the road open by order
of the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD. Sadly,
further exploration here is not recommended due to the
possibility of land mines.
Two km south of Aqoura on the east side of
the road there is a natural bridge across the two entrances to
the Roueiss cave, a favourite with speleologists. Below the
cave you'll find a pleasant restaurant with fresh trout on
High on the cliff above Roueiss is the
Chapel of Mar Youhanna (Saint John), which requires a stiff
climb to reach. The cave goes back for 500 meters and has a
small spring. Domestic remains left by cave dwellers from the
Bronze Age to the Medieval period have been found here.