The town of
Hasbaya is the center of the Caza and can be reached from
Marjeyun across the Hasbani bridge.
It is one of the most important and oldest towns of the
Mount Hermon area. This
mountain peak, also called Jabal al Sheikh, rises east of
Hasbaya. The town is
watered by a small tributary of the Hasbani River.
Hasbaya is an
important historical site, but little of its ancient monuments
survive. The oldest
standing ruins date to the Crusader period.
After the conquest of the area by the Shehabs in 1173,
they fortified the square tower of the Crusader fort and
transformed it into a big palace similar to Italian palaces
and citadels of the Renaissance.
On both sides of its main entrance is the lion, the
emblem of the Shehab family. The
upper floor has 65 rooms, and the largest is decorated with
beautiful wall paintings. The
mosque was built in the 13th century and has a beautiful
Hasbaya keeps its
traditions alive and its workshops are still producing
traditional clothing such as abayas, caftans and turbans.
Leave Hasbaya and
drive in the direction of Marjeyun.
After 3 km, you reach Souk al Khan, which is located
inside a pine forest at the crossing of Hasbaya, Rashaya,
Kawkaba and Marjeyun roads. There lies the ruins of an old khan where Ali, son of
Fakhreddin Maan, is said to have been killed.
In this khan, a popular weekly market held very Tuesday
is visited by traders and visitors from all over the area. Near
this site flows the Hasbani, a tributary of the Jordan River,
which is presently under Israeli Control.
On the banks of this river are scattered outdoor
restaurants serving delicious Lebanese food and trout.
From Souk al Khan
drive 6 km to the south-east and come to Rashaya a Fukkhar, a
village famous for its pottery production.
From there continue on the road to Habbariye, in the
midst of vineyards and orchards.
Near the village, on the slopes of Mount Hermon lie the
ruins of a Roman temple. A
rectangular building 17 x 9 m, some of its walls are preserved
to a height of 8 meters.
Continue to the village of Shebaa famous for its caves,
springs and breathtaking scenery.
north-east of Hasbaya is the village of Mimes.
From there the visitor goes to the most famous
religious center of the Druze community: the al Bayyada
praying halls, where thousands of Druze believers come each
Thursday night to pray and to meditate.
The compound is made up of 40 halls or khalwat which
have deliberately been left unrestored.
al Bayyada, go north to the villages of al Kfayr and Nabi Shit
where lie the ruins of an old temple, oil presses, stone
basins and a rock-cut tomb believed to be that of the founder
of the Druze faith, Muhammad ben Ismail al Darazi.