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   To go to Nabatiye, drive from Sidon to Zahrani, Msayleh, Zefta, Dayr Zahrani, and Habbush. Nabatiye is the most important town of the Jabal Amel area and the chief center of both the mohafazat and the caza. Nabatiye enjoys an important economic and cultural positoin.
   Every Monday is market day and traders and visitors from neighboring villages gather in the city center to exchange their goods. In Nabatiye are branches of several banks, hospitals, restaurants and cultural and touristic clubs, like the al Shqif Club. Every year Nabatiye commemorates the Battle of Karbala to remember the martyrdom of Iman al Husayn. On this occasion, tens of thousands of visitors, mainly of the Shiite community, come to participate in this religious ceremony.

Spring in Jbaa

Beaufort Castle

   Nabatiye is the hometown of several learned men of international reknown. The theologian, sheikh Aref al Zein, and the scientist, Kamal al Sabbah, are among the most famous. Nabatiye has two historic mosques: the first one was built in the 16th century and lies in the town center; and the second one, known as “the Mosque of the Prophet,” dates to the Mamluk period and is located in Nabatiye al Fawqa.
   Arnun lies 7 km south-east of Nabatiye. On top of a hill overlooking the southern Beqaa to Damascus stands a fortress known to Arab travellers as Shqif Arnun, Shqif being a Syriac term meaning high rock. Western travellers call it Belfort or Beaufort. At first sight, it seems inaccessible, but it can be easily reached from the village of Arnun.  In front of the fortress the visitor will see a large water cistern and the ruins of an ancient village contemporary with the citadel. There is no direct evidence of the building date or the builder of this castle. According to William of Tyre, it was erected by the Crusaders, but some scholars are of the opinion that it is older. It has been suggested that the monument was already standing when the Crusaders arrived. It has also been argued that it was first built in the Late Roman or Byzantine period, later restored and enlarged by the Arabs. The Crusaders restructured and fortified it and it became the important fortress in Lebanon. The Crusader king, Foulques d’Anjou, conquered it from the ruler of Damascus and gave it to the Crusader rulers of Sidon in 1138. Salaheddin besieged it for two years and was able to storm it in 1140. The Crusader regained control of the citadel in 1190 after they had signed an agreement with Al Salih Ismail, ruler of Damascus. In 1260, it was bought by the templars from the Sidonian prince and it remained their property until its conquest in 1268 by the Mamluk Sultan, Al Zahir Baybars. The Templars built there a small fort called Ch­teau Neuf. Fakhreddin restored and fortified it at the beginning of the 17th century, but the governor of Damascus, Hafez Pasha, besieged it and partly destroyed it with his artillery.

The restoration of the monument was initiated by the Lebanese Directorate of Antiquities in the late 1970’s but it soon had to stop because of repeated Israeli bombardments. The Crusader castle has been under Israeli occupation since 1982. The fortress lies on a 700 meters high rocky mound. Its plan had to follow the relief and topography of the site and resulted in a quasi-rectangular shape. To the east, it overlooks the 300m deep Litani River valley. On the other three sides, it is surrounded by a moat. In spite of its very bad state of preservation, some of its elements are sill standing and easy to identify. On both ends of its well-preserved southern wall rise two beautiful towers. The wall is built on top of a glacis covered with flat stones and covering all the rocky platform on which the fort stands. The monument originally had three stories, but the third one has been totally destroyed.
   The main entrance leads to the ground floor and is located on the eastern side of the building. It is protected by three towers, on top of which a large number of fighters could stand. In the south-eastern corner is a second entrance leading to the upper floor and, finally, a third entrance in the south-western angle surmounted by machicolations leads to the center of the main courtyard. Inside, the castle is almost completely ruined and only the eastern wall, entrance and staircase of a big tower in the middle of the western side survive. On the eastern side is a 13th century vaulted building, either a church or an assembly hall. On the northern side are the remains of two towers and of a large cistern which occupies part of the moat surrounding the fortress

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