Zahle, Lebanon

The name Zahle is Syriac and means "shifting or moving" in reference to its soil erodibility. Zahle town, 57 km (35 miles) east of Beirut, is notable for its traditional red-roofed houses, arcades and decorated facades typical of 19th century architecture. The town is also the home of 38 churches and 7 mosques. It is renowned as "The City of Wine and Poetry" and with good reason, for it is rich in both: vineyards that grow abundantly and feed the famed Zahle araq, wine industries, and poets who enjoy International repute. Zahle is also famous for serving a relishing array of mezze that has earned the appellation mezzeh Zahlawiye (Zahle mezze).

The area of Zahle has a long history of wine making that can be traced back to early antiquity. The industry was revived with the arrival of the Jesuits in the year 1864, who settled in Ksara on the southern part of town and re-opened the extensive underground caves built around a natural grotto by the Romans. Each year, in the month of September, Zahle celebrates the Festival of Vine. The week-long festival encompasses many cultural and musical events. The festivities are crowned with the election of "Miss Vine" in a carnival-like atmosphere, and cars are decorated with flowers representing national symbols.

Tomb of Prophet Noah

In the village of Nuh Karak, 1 kilometer away from the center of Zahle, is the grave of Prophet Noah (pbuh) according to local tradition. Yes, the one who saved all the animals in his ark when God flooded the Earth. The village mosque was built from the ruins of a Roman aqueduct of which some arches remain, and decorated with ancient Arabic inscriptions. The Tomb of Prophet Noah, which is around 30 meters in length and 2.5 meters wide, is covered by prayer mats and located in a room adjacent to the mosque.