The Perfect Summer Escape
April 01, 2017
Bkassine is a charming, scenic and relaxingly peaceful Lebanese village with its red-tile roof houses and narrow streets. Located 70km away from Beirut, and at an average altitude of 950m, it lies south of Jezzine on a small hill surrounded by a magnificent 2.5 million- square-meter forest -- the largest pine forest in Lebanon and the Middle East and the last to the south of Turkey.
Being a great summer spot, the town is abuzz with activity between the months of June and September when most of its residents are there and when Lebanese and foreign tourists stop by for a visit.
A piece of history is within your reach with sites like the church of Our Lady of Salvation, built in 1855, and Saint Takla Church, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in Lebanon. Bkassine is also known to be home to a host of great men, artists, writers, poets, painters and sculptors.
Olive trees are widely cultivated in the village, providing one of the best oils produced in the region. In 2001, the National Institute for Heritage, presided by Mrs. Mona Hraoui, awarded Bkassine the first prize for its preservation as a typical traditional village.
The a hike
Planted under the rule of Fakhreddine in the 16th century, Bkassine’s greatest pride is its pine forest, the village’s primary source of income. The forest makes for a great hiking trip with a wide range of tours in the breathtaking nature, allowing you to discover a beautiful, pollution-free setting.
Hiking trips include visits to the Bissri plain, near the Bissri River, which separates the cazas of Jezzine and Shouf. Another itinerary leads hikers through Aaray to Jezzine. This tour can be extended by hiking in the direction of Wadi Jezzine and its cave, which once served as a refuge for Fakhreddine against the Ottomans.
On the heights of Bkassine, at an altitude of 1173 meters, hiking down the hill of Nabi Misha is well worth the trip. Two temples, one named Nabi Micha and the other Nabya Zalikha, stand atop two hills overlooking the Shouf, Iklim el-Kharroub and Iklim el-Tuffah.
A home away from home
The village of Bkassine will envelop you in the traditional warmth of Lebanese hospitality in its guesthouses, where you can experience the ultimate Lebanese village lifestyle and spend some time among the village residents.
Rooms have been designed to accommodate visitors in many traditional houses providing service and hospitality in true Lebanese village style. A hearty breakfast of homemade products will start you off for a morning of fun rural tourist activities.
The Bkassine Festival Three decades of fantasy!
The highlight of a trip to this village is most certainly the Bkassine festival, a three-day community-based, volunteer-driven extrav- aganza that takes place on an annual basis at the end of the month of September. In September 1972, with great ambitions and a contrastingly tiny budget, the Bkassine special events commission launched the first Bkassine festival.
Since its inception, the festival has been a spectacular success, thanks to the commission that envisioned it and worked hard along with an enthusiastic organizing team and an army of volunteers who helped turn the vision into reality.
Over the past five years, the festival has experienced unprecedented growth in every aspect of its operations, including atten- dance and financial support from individual patrons and the corporate community. The festival, which celebrates traditions through entertainment, has become one of the most popular events in south Lebanon.
The Bkassine festival offers you exceptionally magical moments from the minute you walk into the venue; you can’t but be surprised and delighted with the outstanding set-up and atmosphere. You will simply be captivated by the music, street performers and the multiple activities happening all over the village’s square offering the most innovative, creative and distinctive concepts in design and entertainment.
Few experiences will get your pulse racing like the festival’s spectacular fireworks show, choreographed to music and integrated with confetti, sky trackers and pyrotechnics - it serves as a perfect way to launch the festivities, which welcome thousands of people coming to dance to the sound of a wide variety of bands and DJs performing different musical genres including Disco, Pop, Rock, Funk, Oldies, Latin and Oriental music.
Children can come along with their parents for the fun too! Over the past few years, kids’ zones have grown with an exciting array of fun activities such as interactive inflatable attractions consisting of bouncing houses, obstacle courses and wall climbing. What makes the festival truly unique is that everyone becomes a participant; everyone is invited to eat, drink, dance, rejoice and most importantly, share moments that are truly unforgettable with loved ones and perhaps new friends.
Whether you are home for the summer holidays or just looking for a fun weekend away from the heat, hustle and bustle of the busy city, you absolutely must make Bkassine one of your stops. No matter how long you stay, even only an hour in Bkassine with its stunning scenery, fresh air, and inviting atmosphere will leave you relaxed and revitalized, and every experience will be etched into your memory and cherished for years to come.