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Berdawni - Zahle, Lebanon

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Berdawni, Lebanon

The Berdawni is a river that flows out of Mt. Sannine and down through Zahle. It is also a name synonymous with Lebanon’s famous mezze and the delights of outdoor dining.

The Berdawni restaurant tradition began over a hundred years ago with a few simple riverside cafes. Today it is a virtual bazaar of tree-shaded eating places known as “casinos”, every one more inviting than the next. Not surprisingly, competition is fierce, so each establishment outdoes itself with fountains, pools, and cooling shade to tempt potential customers.

Here you can enjoy the traditional Lebanese mezze as it is served nowhere else. To add to the sense of timelessness, delicious mountain bread is baked before your eyes and a man in baggy trousers and fez is on hand to pour Lebanese coffee. He can also provide diners with a hubble-bubble (water pipe).

On the cliffs above the Berdawni are the restaurants of Kaa el Reem, also known for their excellent food and atmosphere.

Wine And Arak

Zahle’s association with the grape is pervasive, for it lies at the heart of an area that has been making wine since early antiquity. At the city’s southern entrance the statue of a graceful female personifies wine and poetry, but you don’t have to look far to see evidence of the real thing. The hills north of town with names like Wadi Hadi, Harqat, Bir Ghazour and Tell Zeina are covered with the neat rows of vineyards that supply Zahle’s wine and arak industries.

Many of the wines have been formally recognized abroad for their fine quality - equal to some of the best in Europe.

A tour of Zahle’s Ksara winery is a good way to see how wine and arak are made. Of special interest here are the extensive underground caves built around a natural grotto known and enlarged by the Romans.

Zahle, Lebanon

A red-roofed town set among the eastern foothills of Mount Sannine, Zahle enjoys a prime location in the Beqaa valley. Snowcapped mountains tower above it in winter, while in summer its 945 meter elevation keeps the air light and dry.

 
Zahle, Lebanon
 

The city center spreads along both banks of the Berdawni River, with the older section of the upper elevations of the west bank. At the northern end of town is the Berdawni river valley known as Wadi el-Aarayesh (Grape Vine Valley) - the site of Zahle’s famous outdoor restaurants.

Zahle styles itself “The city of Wine and poetry”, and with good reason. In this century alone some 50 poets and writers were born here and almost as many excellent wines and araks have been produced in the area.

The romance of wine and poetry is balanced by Zahle’s more business like position as the administrative and commercial capital of the Beqaa valley (42.27% of Lebanon’s territory) as well as its rank as the country’s third largest city (population 150,000). Zahle is also an agricultural town which produces vegetables, fruit, grains and most importantly, grapes.

 

 

 

Information From the Ministry of Tourism

Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

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