Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) (LEBANON)
- Keywords: Lebanon, Cultural Landscape, Ouadi Qadisha, Holy Valley, Forest of the Cedars of God, Horsh Arz el-Rab, Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve, Tannourine Nature Reserve, Maronite eremitism, mummies, monasteries, St Anthony of Quzhayya, Our Lady of Hauqqa, Qannubin, Mar Lichaa.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) is in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, considered as a Cultural Landscape, with date of inscription: 1998, criteria: (iii)(iv) and ref: 850. “Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve”, situated in the mountains beside the stunning Qadisha Valley, is a veritable Eden, particularly in spring. Although Horsh Ehden consists of less than 0.1 percent of Lebanon’s total area, it is home to an impressive array of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the reserve. The reserve is also classified as an Important Bird Area. Another area with cedars, near to the Qadisha valley, the “Tannourine Cedar Reserve”, is also protected by the Government.
- World heritage list of UNESCO
- Protection Figures
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
Associative cultural landscape1
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
The Qadisha Valley and the remnant Cedar Forest on the western flank of Mount Lebanon form a cultural landscape of outstanding universal value. The steep-walled valley represents the combined work of nature and humankind and it has long been a place of meditation and refuge and it contains an exceptional number of Christian eremitic and cenobitic monastic foundations, some of them from a very early phase of the expansion of Christianity. It bears unique witness to the centre of Maronite eremitism. Med-O-Med agrees the UNESCO classification, considering the site as Cultural Landscape (associative and relict landscape), taking into account its natural and cultural heritage (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008): -Its Natural Heritage Components: the natural caves of the valley, carved into the hillsides – almost inaccessible, scattered, irregular, and comfortless – provide the material environment that is indispensable to contemplation and the life of mortification. In this way a specific spiritual relationship can be built up between this rugged landscape and the spiritual needs of hermits. Traditional land-use in the form of dramatic terraces continues, where is growing grain by the monks, hermits and peasants who lived in the region. These values are complemented by its Jurassic origin, including caves with limestone features, and the valley supports a wide range of flora and fauna, contributing to biological diversity. The trees in the Cedar Forest are the survivors of a great forest that was renowned in antiquity.The ancient text known as the Epic of Gilgamesh, found in central Mesopotamia, makes reference to this forest and describes the Cedars of Lebanon as sacred trees. The cedar is so much the symbol of the devotion of the Lebanese people to their land and to their country that it has been adopted as the emblem on the national flag. Also, the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve, situated in the mountains beside the stunning Qadisha Valley, is a veritable Eden, particularly in spring. The 3,500 hectares of land, ranging in altitude from 1,200 to 2,000 meters, are blissfully silent save for the sound of the wind in the trees. Tannourine Cedar Reserve, near to the valley, is another source of cedars. -Its Cultural Heritage Components: The rocky cliffs of the Qadisha Valley have served over centuries as a place for meditation and refuge. The Valley comprises the largest number of monasteries and hermitages dating back to the very first spread of Christianism. The main monasteries are those of St Anthony of Quzhayya, Our Lady of Hauqqa, Qannubin and Mar Lichaa. This Valley bears unique witness to the very centre of Maronite eremitism. Its natural caves, carved into the hillsides, occupied by the Christian anchorites had been used earlier as shelters and for burials, as far back as the Palaeolithic period, are still decorated with frescoes testifying to an architecture specifically conceived for the spiritual and vital needs of an austere life. There have been found 8 natural mummies. Also Tannourine hosts a remarkably large number of archeological sites dating from the Roman-era onwards.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Qadisha Valley, Wadi Qadisha, Ouadi Qadisha), the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab).
- Current denomination Qadisha Valley, Wadi Qadisha, Ouadi Qadisha), the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab).
- Original denomination Ouadi Qadisha (وادي قاديشا in Arabic), (Horsh Arz el-Rab).
- Popular denomination Qadisha Valley, Wadi Qadisha, Ouadi Qadisha), the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab).
- Address: Qadisha Valley, Becharre District, Governorate of North Lebanon.
- Geographical coordinates: N34 14 35.988 E36 2 56.004
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: The Qadisha Valley site and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) are within the Becharre and Zgharta Districts of the North Governorate of Lebanon. The Qadisha Valley is located North of Mount-Lebanon chain, at the foot of Mount al-Makmel and West of the Forest of the Cedars of God. The Holy River Qadisha, celebrated in the Scriptures, runs through the Valley. The Forest of the Cedars of God is located on Mount Makmel, between 1900 and 2050 m altitude and to the East of the village of Bcharré. The valley is a deep gorge carved by the Kadisha River, also known as the Nahr Abu Ali when it reaches Tripoli. Towns, villages, and monasteries of the valley: -In Bsharri District: Bsharri, Dimane, Bane, Tourza, Hasroun, Bazaoun, Bqarqasha, Bqaa Kafra, Brissate, Hadchit, Blaouza, Hadath, Monastery of Qannoubine, Monastery of Hawqa, Monastery of Mar Elisha -In Zgharta District: Arbet Qozhaya, Ehden, Kfarsghab, Hawqa, Aintourine, Sereel, El Fradiss, Mazraat En Nahr, Beit Balais, Monastery of Qozhaya, Monastery of Mar Sarkis Ras Al Nahr.
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Lebanon's Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Lebanon's Government.
- Legal protection: The Qadisha Holy Valley is protected by Ministerial Orders 13/1995 and 60/1997 enacted by the Ministry of Culture, by Order 151/95 enacted by the Ministry of the Environment, and by the Antiquities Law 166/1933. A new town and building plan has been approved. Currently, the Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) and the Ministry of the Environment are the official responsible organisms of the property. The COSAQ, the body comprising the land owners (Maronite Patriarchate, religious orders etc.), the regional municipalities and private associations, take care of the management of the property. Two coordination commissions, administrative and scientific, should be created to assist in the management of the property and this included in the framework of the management plan submitted to the World Heritage Centre at the time of inscription. This management plan was updated in 2007-2008. The creation of a Regional Park and the development of a detailed management plan to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the property is recommended by the World Heritage Committee. A programme of interventions will enable, among others, the implementation of work on the built heritage, improvement of the road network and that concerned with excursions, strengthen security and control in the Valley, support ecological tourism and biological agriculture, written studies and creation of databases. The area of the Cedars is considered a national natural site and is subject to the following protection texts: Law 8/7/1939 concerning landscapes and natural sites in Lebanon, Decree NI434 of 28/3/1942 that indicates the geographical boundaries and standards of the Cedar Region, Decree K/836 of 9/1/1950 concerning the organization and development of the Cedar Region, Decree 52 of 7/11/2005 concerning the organization and development of the Cedar Region, Decree Law 558 of 24/7/1996 concerning the protection of the forest of Lebanon under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture. The protection of this site is ensured by the joint action of the Maronite Patriarchate, the Municipality of Bcharré, the Lebanese army and the Committee of the Friends of the Cedar Forest. The Ministry of Agriculture and the DGA are the official managers responsible of the property. The Committee of the Friends of the Cedar Forest manages the Forest in accordance with an Action Plan. Some protection measures must be envisaged, notably to clear the areas around the Forest and the removal to a more appropriate area of the souvenir kiosks. A continuous ecological recording is indispensable to ensure monitoring and control.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: Qadisha Valley and the cedar grove ahead are not covered by any form of management plan or conservation programme. UNESCO and IKOMOS recommend hat the management plan for this property should take account of the cultural values and also of the natural values, clearly identifying the indigenous flora and fauna and addressing, interalia, their conservation, the approach to visitor use in the Valley, especially in relation to vehicle use, visitor access within the cedar grove, and plans to establish an expanded area of Cedrus lebani in as near a natural manner as possible. Because of the vulnerability of the natural elements and the visual impact of buildings on the Valley rim, it was essential that there should be an effective buffer zone around the nominated area. The Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve Committee is implementing a project on” Climate change effects on the Biodiversity of Horsh ehden and ways to adapt the negative impacts on its environment/ Lebanon”, which aims at strengthening the nature reserve and its administration, and to make the ecosystem more resilient to climate change. This project is supported by the Environmental Fund for Lebanon (EFL) funded by the German Government through the German International Cooperation (GIZ) and coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR). Technical Assistance is provided through GFA Consulting Group and ELARD Consulting Group.
Historical Description: Many of the caves in the Qadisha occupied by the Christian anchorites had been used in earlier as shelters and for burials, back as far as the Palaeolithic period. Since the early centuries of Christianity the Holy Valley served as a refuge for those in search of solitude. Syrian Maronites fled there from religious persecution from the late 7th century onwards, and this movement intensified in the 10th century following the destruction of the Monastery of St Marun. The Maronite monks established their new centre at Qannubin, in the heart of the Qadisha, and monasteries that combined eremitism with community life quickly spread over the surrounding hills. At the end of the Crusades the Qadisha caves witnessed dramatic actions against their supporters, the Maronites. The Mameluk Sultans Baibars and Qalaoun led campaigns in 1268 and 1283 respectively against these fortress-caves and the surrounding villages. Despite these attacks, the Deir Qannubin monastery was to be become the seat of the Maronite Patriarch in the 15th century and to remain so for five hundred years. In the 17th century the Maronite monks’ reputation for piety was such that many European poets, historians, geographers, politicians, and clergy visited and even settled in the Qadisha. The Holy Valley was, however, not merely the centre of the Maronites. Its rocky cliffs gave shelter to other Christian communities over the centuries – Jacobites (Syrian Orthodox), Melchites (Greek Orthodox), Nestorians, Armenians, even Ethiopians. The cedar (Cedrus lebani) is described in ancient works on botany as the oldest tree in the world. It was admired by the Israelites, who brought it to their land to build the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Historical sources report that the famous cedar forests were beginning to disappear at the time of Justinian in the 6th century AD.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Archaeological
- Geography: Valley
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: No specific information is available.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: The long, deep Qadisha Valley is located at the foot of Mount al-Makmal in northern Lebanon. Through it the Holy River, Nahr Qadisha, runs for 35 km from its source in a cave (grotto) a little way below the Forest of the Cedars of God. The sides of the valley are steep cliffs that contain many caves, often at more than 1000m and all difficult of access. The most scenic section of the valley stretches for approximately twenty kilometers between Bsharri the hometown of Kahlil Gibran, and Tourza.
The Qadisha Valley is nearby the Forest of the Cedars of God, survivors of the ancient Cedars of Lebanon, the most highly prized building materials of the ancient world. The forest is said to contain 375 individual trees, two claimed to be over 3000 years old, ten over 1000 years, and the remainder at least centuries-old. The Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus Libani) is described in ancient works on botany as the oldest tree in the world. It was admired by the Israelites, who brought it to their land to build the First and the Second temples in Jerusalem. Historical sources report that the famous cedar forests were beginning to disappear at the time of Justinian in the 6th century AD. Horsh Eden Nature Reserve: 1030 species of higher plant species in Lebanon, and 39 species of trees have so far been recorded in Horsh Ehden Reserve. 70 species were given the name of Lebanon such as: Cedrus Libani, Salix Libani, Berberis Libanoticum, and 22 species carried names from Lebanon such as Dianthus Karami (after Youssef Bey Karam, a 19th century national figure) and Astragalus Ehdenensis (after the village of Ehden). The reserve is also considered the southern most limit to Ciliciam Fir. The main forest communities of highest conservation importance are: -The Lebanon cedar Cedrus Libani forest community which represents about 20% of the remaining cedar forests in Lebanon and is thus significant at the national level. -The Ciliciam Fir Abies Cilicica forest community. -The Greek juniper Juniperus Excelsa forest community which is considered a resource and a gene pool for possible reforestation projects at higher altitude. It is considered nationally significant as a gene stock for the reforestation of the high peaks of Mount Lebanon above 2000 m altitude line. -The Lebanese wild apple Malus Trilobata forest community Tannourine Cedar Reserve, near to the valley, is also full of cedars and otther companion trees like Cupressus, Pinus, Abies, Populus and others constitute a very rich ecosystem in planter species.
Horsh Eden Nature Reserve: -Mammals: More than 27 mammals have been sighted in the reserve (not including bats), representing a third of the mammals in Lebanon. There are mainly six big families of mammals in this reserve: Insectivores, Carnivores, Rodentia, Lagomorpha, Chiroptera, Artiodactyls. 13 Species are globally threatened and 1 species is locally threatened and highly endangered ( Gray wolf, Canis lupus), 1 species is endemic to Horsh Ehden (Lesser white-toothed shrew, Crocidura suaveolens), and 4 species are considered threatened at global level. Among the species recorded are: Cape hare (Lepus capensis), Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), Eurasian badger (Meles meles), Southern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), Indian porcupine (Histrix indica), Caucasian Squirrel (Sciurus anomalus), Striped hyena (Hyaena hyanena), Least weasel (Mustela nivalis), Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Gray wolf (Canis lupus), Marbled polecat (Vormela Peregusna). The reserve may hava also been home to many extinct species in Lebanon such as : Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica), Anatolian leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana), Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus), and the Aurochs (Bos primigenius). -Birds: Horsh Ehden Reserve is rich in bird life, since it provides a number of different habitats which allows different species to live in it. Among the species recorded 4 species are considered threatened at global level, 5 species are considered vulnerable at regional scale, 18 species are facing unfavourable conditions in Europe, and 57 species are rare in Lebanon. The species recorded include: Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Blue tit (Parus caeruleus), Corn Crake (Crex crex), Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter Brevips), Saker falcon (falco cherrug), White pelican (Pelecanus Onocratalus), Black stork (Ciconia Nigra), Egyptian vulture (Neophron Perenopetrus), European Bee-eater (Merops Apiaster), Sand martin (Riparia Riparia), White stork (Ciconia Ciconia), Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba Polumbus), Great spotted cuckoo (Clamator Glandarius), Barn owl (Tyto Alba), and the Syrian woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus). -Amphibians and Reptiles: There are 23 species recorded in Horsh Ehden, 4 Amphibians and 19 reptiles,1 species is globally threatened (Mediterranean chameleon, Chamaeleo Chamaeleon), 1 subspecies is unique, and 19 species are threatened in Lebanon. The species include: Lebanon Viper (Montivipera bornmuelleri), Palestinian viper (Vipera palaestinae), Green Whip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus), Bridled Mabuya (Trachylepis vittata), Schreiber’s Fringe-fingered Lizard (Acanthodactylus schreiberi), Desert Black Snake (Walterinnesia aegyptia), Common Toad (Bufo bufo).
Land uses and economical activities:Agriculture. Spiritual activities. Tourism.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:Around the caves there are terraced fields made by the hermits for growing grain, grapes, and olives.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
The Qadisha Valley and the remnant Cedar Forest on the western flank of Mount Lebanon form a cultural landscape of outstanding universal value. The steep-walled valley represents the combined work of nature and humankind and it has long been a place of meditation and refuge and it contains an exceptional number of Christian eremitic and cenobitic monastic foundations, some of them from a very early phase of the expansion of Christianity. It bears unique witness to the centre of Maronite eremitism.The Valley comprises the largest number of monasteries and hermitages dating back to the very first spread of Christianism. The main monasteries are those of St Anthony of Quzhayya, Our Lady of Hauqqa, Qannubin and Mar Lichaa. The Natural Heritage can be observed in the Horsh Eden Nature Reserve, or in Tannourine Cedar Reserve and, in general, in the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab). The trees in the Cedar Forest are the survivors of a great forest that was renowned in antiquity.
5.2. Cultural Heritage
A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general
Architectonical elements /Sculptures:
The long, deep Qadisha (Holy) Valley is located at the foot of Mount al-Makmal in northern Lebanon. Through it the Holy River, Nahr Qadisha, runs for 35km, from its source in a cave a little way below the sacred cedars. The slopes of the valley form natural ramparts, and their steep cliffs contain many caves, often at more than 1000m and all difficult of access. The hermitages, consisting of small cells no more than the height of a man and sometimes with walls closing them off, take advantage of irregularities in the rock, which explains their uneven distribution. Some have wall paintings still surviving. earliest documentary records date back only to around 1000. It was destroyed in the 16th century but quickly restored: it comprises a corridor, meeting room, and chapel, with a mill and a number of hermitages, cut into the rock, nearby. The main monasteries are: -The Monastery of Our Lady of Hauqqa (Saydet Hauqqa) is situated at an altitude of 1150m between Qannubin and Quzhayya, at the base of an enormous cave. The hermitage appears to have been located on a wide platform at mid-level, where there is a water reservoir fed by channels. The upper level, only accessible by ladder, is a cave some 47m long, where the wealth of medieval pottery and arrowheads that have been found suggest its use as a refuge. It was founded in the late 13th century by villagers from Hauqqa. -The Monastery of Mar Lichaa (Mar Lisa or St Elisha), mentioned first in the 14th century, is shared by twocommunities, a Maronite solitary order and the Bare-foot Carmelite order. It consists of three or four small cells, a refectory, and some offices, the communal church includes four chapels cut into the rock-face. -Other monastic establishments in the Qadisha are the Monastery of Mar Girgis, with the Chapel of Mar Sallita, the Monastery of Mar Yuhanna, and the Monastery of Mar Abun, with the Hermitage of Mar Sarkis. -There is another group of monasteries in the adjoining Hadshit Valley (Ouadi Houlat). These were founded by Ethiopian Monophysite monks expelled from the neighbouring town of Ehden and occupied by them before their communities scattered elsewhere. They nclude the hermitage-monastery complexes of Deir es-Salib, Mar Antonios, Mar Semaane, and Mar Assia, along with the isolated chapels of Mar Bohna and Mar Chmouna. In the village of Ehden, the visitors can visit some historical churches and monasteries, as well as the old souk (market place) in the historic part of the city. For example, the Church of St. Mamas (Mar Memas) is considered to be the first Maronite church constructed with stones in Lebanon. Tannourine is well known for its ancient Maronite monasteries, specifically the convents of Saint Shallitah and Saint Antonios Houb, the latter being located in the village of Wata Houb. Also, among the rocky outcrops of Tannourine-Al-Tahta is located an ancient 500-year-old Lebanese house, believed to be one of the earliest examples of Lebanese architecture.
Art pieces, artesany, furniture and other elements:
See previous point.
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
B) Related to ancient remains
- Archaeological components:
-The Qadisha mummies: Eight well preserved natural mummies of Maronite villagers dating back to around 1283 A.D. were uncovered by a team of speleologists in the Qadisha Valley in 1991. These were found in the ‘Asi-al Hadath cave along with a wealth of artifacts. A group of natural mummies was discovered in the ‘Asi-al Hadath cave located in the Qadisha Valley of Lebanon. The initial discovery of one infant’s mummy took place on July 13, 1990, and was made by a group of speleologists (members of the Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches Souterraines du Liban, GERSL) who had been excavating the cave for two years. During the next five months, seven other mummies (four infants and three adult females), one fetus, and one male skull were uncovered. These natural mummies were produced by the low humidity of the cave. These are the first (and perhaps the only) mummies of the Maronite people ever to be discovered. Perhaps the most interesting artifacts are the textiles. These were not only worn by the mummies, they were also scattered about the cave. Their robes, made from heavy cotton, are embroidered with squares and diamonds of crosses and flowers, which strongly resemble kilim patterns of Turkish nomads. The mummies are on display at the Lebanese National Museum in Beirut. However, the conditions of their exhibit are less than ideal and they are in danger of decaying. Scientists and scholars who know about the mummies hope that funding will be made available both to preserve and study these remarkable medieval mummies. -Archeological sites: Tannourine hosts a remarkably large number of archeological sites dating from the Roman-era onwards. In the valley of Tannourine-Al-Tahta lies a nearly-intact Roman aqueduct and a decrepit reservoir and Roman Cistern at its side. It is a testament that the fertility of that valley was being exploited since at least the 1st century AD. Higher up in the mountains, in the now abandoned village of Ain-Al-Raha, are found a number of 6th century and Crusader-era churches that many scholars believe to be one of the earliest known proofs of the presence of Christianity in the upper Levant. Indeed, according to the legend, Ain-Al-Raha (literally: source of relief) was during the 11th to 13th century a safe haven for defeated crusaders. Traces of fortifications have also been found in the Aassi Hauqqa (cave) at 1170m altitude. Archaeological finds show that this cave was in use in Palaeolithic, Roman, and medieval times.
- Traces in the environment of human activity: Agriculture in terraces. Archaeological remains, monasteries, mummies.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Languages and dialects: Arabic
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: The Sacred Valley is in itself an Invitation to the forgetfulnes of self, to meditation, and to Prayer. In the Sacred Valley, the Maronites heard the Gospel and Lived by it. The Caves in the Valley became the retreats of hermits devoted to the inner life of union with the creator. The Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) contains 3000-year-old trees, the last witnesses to Biblical times. They are mentioned 103 times in the Bible, and the Prophet Ezekiel said of the Cedars of Lebanon “God planted them, and it is He who waters them.” These giant trees, contemporary with the kings Hiram of Tyre and Solomon of Jerusalem, know the history of humankind and are worthy of international protection.
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:The integrity of the Valley is at risk due to encroachment of human settlements, illegal building and inconsistent conservation activity. Although it is not yet on the UNESCO "in danger" list, there have been warnings that continued violations may lead to this step. The mummies are on display at the Lebanese National Museum in Beirut. However, the conditions of their exhibit are less than ideal and they are in danger of decaying. Scientists and scholars who know about the mummies hope that funding will be made available both to preserve and study these remarkable medieval mummies.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:The Holy valley is a perfect place to keep atach with yourself, to breath in silence and to observe the stars.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:
-Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab). -Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve and Tannourine Cedar Reserve. -All the monasteries mentioned in the files. -The archaeological sites and the mummies. -The multiple caves, terrace of crops, etc.
- Living heritage
Authenticity:The original character of the ancient monastic troglodyte habitats is still visible. The monastic architecture and the agricultural habitats of the Valley have not yet been modified or altered by substitution interventions. In addition, they have not been hampered by activities incompatible with the spirit of the place. Over time, some sites have lost certain of their characteristic elements such as frescoes or structures. The global authenticity of the Christian vestiges is consequently vulnerable. The Forest of the Cedars of God has maintained its authenticity as related to the survival of its trees. The authenticity of the religious structures within the Qadisha Valley is high, not least because they have been relatively isolated for a long time, with caves dif- ficult of access, and so have not been subject to unsym- pathetic or inappropriate conservation or restoration work. Comparative analysis Other regions of early monasticism include the Sinai peninsula, the Egyptian desert, and Ethiopia. The Qad- isha group is probably the most extensive and most densely distributed. The cedars are, of course, unique because of their significance as a cultural feature rather than as a natural one, as there are other stands of Cedrus lebani elsewhere in Lebanon (eg the Al-Shouf cedar reserve), and especially in Turkey in the Olympus Beydaglari National Park.
Universality:UNESCO's Justification: The Qadisha Valley and the remnant Cedar Forest on the western flank of Mount Lebanon form a cultural landscape of outstanding universal value. The steep- walled valley has long been a place of meditation and refuge and it contains an exceptional number of Christian eremitic and cenobitic monastic foundations, some of them from a very early phase of the expansion of Christianity. Traditional land-use in the form of dramatic terraces continues. The valley's cultural values are complemented by its Jurassic origin, including caves with limestone features, and the valley supports a wide range of flora and fauna, contributing to biological diversity. The trees in the Cedar Forest are the survivors of a great forest that was renowned in antiquity. Respecting the mummies, these are the first (and perhaps the only) mummies of the Maronite people ever to be discovered. According to Guita G. Hourani, who has written about the discovery, "the degree of preservation of some of the mummified bodies" is "astonishing." Also, Med-O-Med subscribes the UNESCO criteria: iii): Since the beginnings of Christianity, the Qadisha Valley has given shelter to monastic communities. The trees of the cedar forest are the survivors of a sacred forest and one of the most prized building materials in ancient times. iv): The rugged Valley has long been a place of meditation and refuge. It comprises an exceptional number of coenobite and eremitic monastic foundations, some of which date back to a very ancient period of the expansion of Christianity. The monasteries of the Qadisha Valley are among the most significant surviving examples of the strength of the Christian faith.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
*** “Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)” is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Lebanon which are included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850 http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/gallery/ http://whc.unesco.org/en/events/283 http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/164 http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/319 http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/850.pdf http://www.lebanon-tourism.gov.lb/ http://www.qadisha.org/ http://old.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/0/1CF5E168A06E682FC2257729001B17A8?OpenDocument http://www.qozhaya.com/default.html http://www.qozhaya.com/default.html http://www.horshehden.org/1/ http://www.moe.gov.lb/Sectors/Biodiversity-Forests/Sub-Sector/Sub-Sector/Protected-Areas-in-Lebanon.aspx?lang=en-us http://www.parks.it/world/LB/Eindex.html http://tannourinevillage.com/w/content.php?id=6&type=natural http://www.arztannourine.org -GERSL. (1993). Momies du Liban: Rapport préliminaire sur la découverte archaéologique de ‘Asi-al-Hadat (XIIIe siècle). France, Édifra. -ICOMOS and IUCN. (1998). World Heritage List. Qadisha (Lebanon). No 850. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara , Italy.
Practical Information:Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve: +961 6 660120 +961 6 663120 http://www.horshehden.org
Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.