(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.