• Photographs from Qadisha
    1997-1999, Børre Ludvigsen
  • Qadisha gorge, Mseilha castle...
    Fareed Abou-Haidar's pictures from Lebanon

    One of the deepest and most beautiful valleys in Lebanon, is indeed a world apart. At the bottom of this wild-sided gorge runs the Qadisha River whose source is in the Qadisha River at the foot of the Cedars. And above the famous Cedar grove stands Qornet es Sawda, Lebanon's highest peak.

    The word "Qadisha" comes from a Semitic root meaning "Holy" and Wadi Qadisha is the "Holy Valley". Filled with caves and rock shelters inhabited from the 3rd Millennium BC to the Roman Period, the valley is scattered with cave chapels, hermitages and monasteries cut from rock. Since the Early Middle Ages generations of Monks, hermits, ascetics and anchorites found asylum here. These religious men, who belonged to the various confessions that grew out of medieval controversies over the nature of Christ, included the Nestorians, Monophysites, Chalcedonians and Monothelites. Even Moslem Soufis were found in this valley. They prayed in many languages: Greek, Arabic, Syriac and Ethiopian.

    At the town of Tourza the valley divides into two branches, each named after a Monastery: Wadi Qozhaya leading to Ehden and Wadi Qannoubin leading to the Cedars. A path goes along the bottom of the valley through an area called, "Bain an-Nahrain" (between the Two Rivers) where Wadi Qannoubin meets Wadi Qadisha. From here trails lead to the various sites. You can also start from the top of the valley and take one of the numerous paths to the bottom.