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    Baaqline in the Shouf District holds an important place in Lebanon's history. The town is said to date back to Emir Maan, who came from Aleppo with his people in the 12th century to fight the Crusaders. He was the one who laid the foundations of Baaqline in 1120 AD. Later on Emir Maan established the Maan dynasty that lasted until the late 17th century.
    Fakhreddine II was also born here. Considered one of the founders of modern Lebanon, Fakhreddine used Baaqline as his capital before moving the administration to Deir el-Qamar. Baaqline was also the seat of the Mount Lebanon government during Ottoman times.
    Unfortunately, the great feudal palaces of Fakhreddine and other rulers that once stood here have disappeared with time. But one building remains to give us a hint of old Baaqline, This is the Grand Serail--the beautiful government building constructed in 1837. It was from these grand halls that the governor of Mount Lebanon ruled before the capital was moved to Baabda.
    The Serail sits a spacious square in the west part of town and has a graceful porch supported by three classical columns. The building was carefully restored in 1987 and transformed into a library with reading rooms and a collection of books in Arabic, French, English and other languages.
    You will enjoy this pleasant quiet town, tucked away in the heart of the Shouf at 860 meters elevation. Baaqline is known for its olives which can still be seen growing in mountain terraces. It is also famous for beautiful needlework.
    If you feel adventuresome, ask about the footpath that leads down into the valley for some 12 km. The route goes past a large sinkhole, a kind of underground cave, and continues on to two swimming pools on the Nahr al-Hamman.

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