Lebanon is a predominantly Muslim country but it is the most open-minded muslim country I’ve ever been to. Beirut, as a capital, is littered with Christian churches and mosques. People of two different faiths live in harmony. It’s a city where I didn’t feel like I have to watch out what I do. I never had that feeling of being paranoid. Sorry Dubai or Abu Dhabi but you still make me paranoid everything I go there (8 times in the past two years). There’s this constant feeling of being watchful – because you don’t wanna end up in jail by just accidentally touching a man’s hip, right? Beirut, on the other hand, has a carefree, relaxed air despite the horrible traffic in the city. The people are nice and the Lebanese men are – oh, boy, don’t get me talking about them. Let’s just say, they’re my type. 😀 LOL…
About Harissa. It is a small community on top of Mt. Lebanon where a huge statue of the Virgin Mary is watching down the city with open arms. To reach Harissa, you’ve got to go to Jounieh, a city just 27 kms outside Beirut. It would take an hour with the endless traffic. Or less. Once you reach Jounieh, take a 9-minute cable ride to the top of Mt. Lebanon. You can also drive up there by car but riding the cable would be more panoramic and satisfying.
Jounieh. This city is famous for its club and restaurants. In fact, it is the nightlife spot of Beirut. You can admire its stunning view of the bay when you’re up there in Harissa.
Biblical City. Do you know that Mary and Jesus used to live in Lebanon? It’s been said that Mary would wait for Jesus at a cave in Maghdouche while he preached in Sidon and nearby places.
Harissa – Where The Virgin Mary is Watching Down Lebanon
This is what Harissa on Mt. Lebanon looks like from Jounieh.
The best way to up there is through a cable car.
As you go up, the view on one side looks like this.
And the other side is like this.
Once you get off the cable car, you’re right in the grounds of Lebanon’s most important pilgrimage site.
This is the statue of Our Lady of Lebanon that stands tall on top of a small chapel below. It is a 15-tonne bronze statue painted in white and which was crafted in France. It’s like the country’s answer to Jesus The Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.
You can go up to her feet by climbing a circular stairs. It’s just too bad that some pilgrims splat the walls with graffiti.
It is important to note that both Christians and Muslims visit this religious site. Apparently, the Virgin Mary is both mentioned in the Bible and Quran.
Behind the statue, you’ll find the concrete and glass cathedral, Asia’s tallest church at 110 meters and 550 meters above sea level.
Pope John Paul II visited this site in 1997.
When you’re done exploring the religious side, it’s time for you to drink in the panoramic vista of the bay of Jounieh.
Before you go back down where you parked your car – and if you’re hungry, sit at a restaurant there with an incredible view of the city below. Sunset time would be the best time to be here.
If you’re not hungry, take selfies for your instagram followers in one of their well-manicured gardens.
WHERE TO STAY IN BEIRUT
Downtown Beirut is nice but there’s not much life there. Hamra neighbourhood is a great place to get to know Beirut through the busy street where locals come and go. Stay at Grand Hotel Beirut or Versailles Grand Hotel. They have a good size room and sparkly clean. You can book via HostelWorld, Expedia and B