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Old Cistercian Monastery
(12 km from Amioun)

    Built by the monastic order of the Cistercians during the Crusader period in the 12th and 13th centuries, this monastery has been under the authority of the Orthodox Church since the early 17th century. It can be reached by turning east off the highway about 8 kilometers south of Tripoli. A sign marks the turn.

    The arrangement of structures around the cloister's courtyard is characteristic of a Cistercian monastery plan. Both the church of Our Lady of Balamand with its unique bell tower, and the present entrance to the monastery, originally the refectory, were built in the 12th century.
    In the 13th century the Cistercians constructed the Great Hall of the Monks that today serves as an attractive concert venue. The Chapter House, also built in the 13th century, was reconstructed sometime after 1604 by the Orthodox monks, who found that most of its vaults had collapsed after the fall of the County of Tripoli in 1289. The structure was made into a church dedicated to Saint George between the 17th and the 19th centuries.
    The monastery possesses many manuscripts and beautiful icons, some painted by masters from the region. The altar screen of the Church of Our Lady of Balamand, probably dating to the end of the 17th century, was carefully restored in 1994.
    Today a well known seminary with a distinguished library operates on the premises. The University of Balamand (opened in 1988) is located nearby.

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