Kobayat

Tour Guide

En Cooperation avec UNESCO

Arabic Version - French Version - English Version - Spanish version

 

Kobayat at a Glance

 

 

The name

It is Aramaic name, that means the big pools of water for being very rich in water.

 

The position

Kobayat is located at the northeast of the Lebanese Republic, 140km away from Beirut, the capital. It is limited at the west by the village "Akkar el Attika", at the East by the line which separates the two districts of Akkar (North) and the Hermel (Bekaa).

It spreads along 70 km2 almost. Its limits are:

 

At the west: Kobayat - Akkar Attika - Halba.
At the East: Kobayat - Andaket - Chadra - the Syrian borders.

At the north-West: Kobayat - Halba - Tripoli.

At the south: Kobayat - Hermel - Baalbeck..

 

The Population

Kobayat had known many populations since a long time. And the populations of the historical periods had left their traces and signs indicating their passage. From the Phoenician to the Roman, to the Byzantine, to the Arabic, to the soldiers of the crusades, to the Ottoman until French.


All its population are all Maronites and they are the 12000 persons according to the civil state registers. (among them 8300 voters in 1992). It is usually full with people during summer but a few stay during the winter.

 
The emigration started since the last decade of the 19th century in direction of Brazil and Venezuela, it continues until our days toward all corners of the world.

 

The inhabited places vary in altitude of 550 meters height in altitude (Zouk district) to 900 meters (Katlabeh district). The inhabitants are distributed among seven districts, seven parishes and seven mayoralties. The districts-parishes are: Gharbiyeh, Martmoura, South-Zouk (Saydet), Zouk, Dahr, Ghowaya, Katlabeh.

 

Its History

Kobayat is a young city, fruit of the determination and the ambition. It is an authentic page of the history of ancient and modern Lebanon, a cultural stage in the depths of Akkar where one can find the nobility of history and the first fruits of modernity.

 

Its History is that of the "fertile valley" at very time and place; in other words, it has been a center of attraction for the peopleswho desired a stability based upon agriculture, and according to this principle was born the civilization.

 

One of the French consuls in Lebanon "Ducousso" described it in 1912 by the following words: "These valleys are foscinating by their surprising fertility". This is how Kobayat has been for a long time the residence of several peoples. Its ruins are the witness of its ancient people: cemeteries from the age of iron and copper (3000 years BC).

 

It is located on the silk road, between East and West Asia through the Mediterranean, towards Rome, the capital of the ancient world.

 

A phoenician and pagan altar in front of "St.Chahlo" church, Phoenician, Greek and Roman pieces of currency at "Ghassalet" church and "Chahlo", Roman tombs in every parts, as well as two luxurious Roman ruins are all witnesses of the great prosperity in the Roman age during the first centuries of Christianity: The first is the temple of the God "Ban", in Helsban Saint Valley, transformed in a church baptized under the name of st. Artimos-Challita. The second is one majestic castles to chouita, witness of the events of the omeyade-Byzantine duel in Orient. Be added to it, a third witness, the hill where is constructed the convent currently Mar Doumit of the Carmelite Fathers; considerable thanks to its vast place, to its subsisting bases and to the found jars.


Some Historic Stages

In 1557, a poet of "zajal" appeared from Kobayat, He is Sema'an Ibn Chama'a el Kobayati.

In 1589, two priests from Kobayat Simon and Sarkis participated to the aggregation of Kannoubine with the emissary of Pope Eliano.

In 1614, the brother Daniel el Akkari from the farm Chouita-Kobayat constructed the convent of St.Thomas in Hasroune.

The 17th Century: during this century the name of Kobayat began to appear in the documents of the legislative court in Tripoli as being the biggest village in Akkar paying the taxes of engagement.

 

 

The Administration
Kobayat has been the biggest agglomeration of inhabitants in Akkar since the Ottoman age and it continues to be nowadays. That's why it had one of the first municipalities of Akkar in 1912. In 1922, in the beginning of the French mandate, Kobayat became a center of "Caïm-macamiya". However, after the reunification of Akkar into one "Caïm-macamiya", Kobayat became again a municipal administration and became an official administrative center of attraction.

 

The Official Centers
The official centers are: a court, a civil states register, a state police, a center of General Safety, a center of social welfare, a public polyclinic, a post office and a telephonic center, a public laboratory of analysis, a center of civil Defense, a notary, an electrical station, water service of Kobayat, a center subordinated to the state control of tobacco and tombac.

 

Educational institutions
Public: kindergarten, primary, complementary and secondary classes, teachers college.
Private: kindergarten, primary, complementary, of the Carmelite fathers.
The kindergarten, primary classes, complementary of the Charity's sisters.
private technical School.
Nursery School belonging to the hospital Saydet el Salam.

 

Civil institutions
Agricultural cooperative, several groups Scouts of Lebanon, the guides, an environment council, a Caritas center, public Library,
les scouts et guides sainte moura.

 

 

Private medical institution
Hospital Saydet el Salam (Our Lady of the Peace) for the sisters Antonines.
Malta's knights polyclinic.
Pharmacies, many clinics covering all medical fields.

 

The Economy
It is particulary based nowadays on the employment, the trade, the agriculture then the industry.

 

The public Employment
Most of the employees are part of the military service (army, police state, general security, customs, civil defense). Others occupy administrative functions from the lower ranks until the rank of ambassador and general director; in the educational field from the academic professors, to elemetary teachers.

 

Free professions
Every field is occupied by many of: physicians, engineers, lawyers, business mans. Kobayat occupied some ministries of some governments whereas it is nearly represented continually at the parliament by a deputy.

 

The Trade
Very active since it is located at a crossing of roads and that it is a center for governmental departments.

 

The Agriculture
It prospered there the culture of the blackberries that disappeared today to be replaced by fruitful trees: grapevines, apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees and especially olive trees. Then the tobacco, the vegetables and the seeds.

 

There are also some farms of poultries, some herds of goats and sheep and some fishponds of fish. It was one of the richest regions of Lebanon in forests, but during the civil war, the fire has consumed a big part of it. Some forests of pines and oaks remain only which crown its hills and place Kobayat in a setting of greenery and brightness.

 

The Industry
Kobayat knew a big prosperity in the manufacture of silk son, and since the beginning of the 20th century, she included six closed factories in the middle of the century. The witness of this former prosperity is the big renovated factory (modern) of which the chimney, similar to an exclamation point of thirty meters of height in the middle of the city, rise the big buildings that can include more than hundred workers above.

 

Among the extinct industries and that returned good incomes for the city: Tar and wood. While its factories produce the housekeeping products, milk and its derivatives, currently, of the pastries. As well as of the yards of iron and aluminum.

 

The Factories
We speak below about silk factories (spinning-mill).

The industry of undoing the threads of cocoon has raised in the beginning on one wheel placed a in any place the only condition is a spring water and a shadow of a tree. Later on with the development of this craft the edifice has transformed into a wide hall surrounded by offices and stores, above it raises a high chimney. The hall has been widened more and more, its interior coincides with the modern criteria where it contains big caldrons wheels and corridors to allow more than a hundred of workers to work. From this new style, the factory of al Cazini remains whose tower raises up to 30m.

 

The industry of undoing the threads of cocoon has raised in the beginning on one simple wheel, placed at any place: Only were sufficient a deaf of water and the shade of a tree. Thereafter, and with the development of this profession, the building changed a large room surrounded with offices and stores, above it rises a high chimney. The room enlarged more and more, its inside answers the modern criteria where it contains big caldrons wheels and corridors to allow more than a hundred of workers to work.

From this new style, the factory of "al Cazini" remains whose tower raises up to 30 meters.

 

Other Services
Superior level restaurants: Morgan, Monte verde, Challal Essamaq (Torrent of fish), Due mila, Al-Jandoul (Gondola), other restaurants inside the city, Snack bar and pastries.

 

Cultural situation
The percentage of education is very high: it is very rare to find someone illiterate. The academic students are by hundreds and many of them have their Doctorate, among them people of letters and writers. The education constituted an important lever for the development that took place in the 20th century.

 

The institution of the organized education is due to the Italian religious mission of the Carmelite fathers who arrived to Kobayat in the middle of the 19th century undertaking a cultural and social activity beside the spiritual one. Since they established a free school for the poor in order to assure for them books, with some meals and clothes, especially for the orphans. This school activity propagated itself in the beginning of the 20th century when the main school has been divided into several branches in the districts moved away of the center. The fruits of which inhabitants of Kobayat has gathered later economically and socially: When the French mandate instituted a military barrack at the neighborhood, several young people joined it and they are educated in such a way they quickly progressed in ranks, and their incomes contributed to the development of their city whereas their propagation in the cities during the independence facilitated to their sons to join the universities to acquire a high education that allowed them to occupy the functions and the important jobs.

 

The Churches
From its beginning, the church started with looking like houses of dwelling. Then the art of construction of the churches developed itself with the development of the liturgy and according to the economic situations. It generated several changes as for example, in the beginning of the 20th century, the East wall was engraved vertically to put there, above the altar, a big picture for the Saint of the church, imported from Europe. So the church is itself transformed from a simple cubic room to a luxurious church with a complex architectural style like the church of the Carmelite Fathers in Kobayat: an example of wideness, splendor of the sculpture and ornamentation.

 

As for the pastoral churches, they are the following:

 

The church of the miraculous Saydet el Ghassalet (an old and a new building), Saydet el Habal (Zouk), Saydet el Intisar (Our Lady of the Victories in Katlabeh), Mar Charbel (Katlabeh), Saydet Moura (Martmoura), Saydet el Intikal (Dahr), Mar Gerges (Ghowaya), Mar Doumit (the convent of the Carmelite Fathers), Saydet el Chambouk, The 40 martyrs (Gharbieh).

 

In Andaket, the pastoral churches are: Mar Challita, Mar Maroun (new), Our Lady.

 

The monumental sanctuaries are: Mar elias (Oudine), Mar Elian, Mar saba, Mar Challita, Mar Sarkis and Bakhos, Saydet Kammah, Mar Gerges in Chouita, Saydet Ghazrata, Saydet Chahlo, convent of Saint Georges in Martmoura.

 

It is not necessary to forget the ancient ruins in Akroum most of which are churches and convents as well as the church Mar Challita and Saydat el Qalaa, in Menjez.

 

 

The Houses of dwelling
The Lebanese village home is known by its function: a chimney around which meets the family to warm themselves, to cook, to eat and to sleep next to a stall where regroup the beasts. In front of the house a big terrace extends where one can lay and can spend the summer season. The animal was precious, being a daily livelihood as for example, the dairy cow, the slipper of the builders and the camel who shared the home with its owner and specified the architecture of the house: the door of the cows was low and narrow whereas the one of the camels is large and high to permit their passage. A screen of rosebushes or sticks of oleanders with the mud separated the man from the beasts.

 

The house of the sheikh and the priest differentiated itself by the high room: a room of stones crammed with a door engraved with openings in the two sides to place some oil lamps there in order to illuminate the visitor's way. Under the high room, a cellar represented a garage for the notable's setting being a mare or a champion.

 

With the blooming of the commercial market and the arrival of the pecuniary capitals to Kobayat at the end of the 19th century, it came back to the sheikh of the parts the money of the silk production, more particularly: the administrators, mediators, and tradesmen. They benefited from this to invest in the construction of very luxurious houses with the help of the constructors the most clever and most famous in Orient from Aleppo and Dhour el Choueir. So they have decorated and sculpted the statuaries, especially the lions, the fruits, the flowers and all object of the nature, mingling the arts of local construction to those European.

 

Then the money of the emigrants contributed to bloom the elegant districts of tile while being inspired at the same time by the western and local style.

 

As for the incomes of the volunteers of the army and the police state, they added to the history of the construction in Kobayat, the wide houses, in stone, with facades of the Lebanese style of three or two arches and stairs of stone and ravens holding the balconies and the wide arches opening on big halls.

 

 

Conclusion
Kobayat is a beautiful rural city that springs toward the glory in full quietude. Embraced by the mountains, it looks toward its noble at past in all conscience and maturity but advances toward the future with confidence and ambition. It dreams for modernization under the care of its sons that cherishes it a lot and fights for its rebirth.

to be continued

Kobayat at a Glance

 

 Special thanks to Mr. Ken Cousins


 

Kobayat is the largest Christian village in the Akkar District of the North Governorate of Lebanon and covers approximately 70 km2. Kobayat is 145km the Lebanese capital Beirut and is bounded by:

Halba-Tripoli in the north

Andaket - Chadra - the Syrian border – in the east

Akkar Attika – Halba – in the west

Hermel – Baalbeck in the south

 

Roads connecting Qobayet to the surrounding villages are:

‐ Qobayet square – Katelbeh ‐ Morghan – Hermel

‐ Qobayet square – Aandqit ‐ Machta – Syria

‐ Qobayet hospital ‐ Akkar el Atika ‐ Beino

‐ Martmoura – Nahrieh – Aidamoun

 

Kobayat has 7 parishes which Gharbiyeh, Martmoura, South-Zouk (Saydet), Zouk, Dahr, Ghowaya, Katlabeh. Which range in altitude from 550 (Zouk) to 900 meters (Katlabeh)

 

The state registered population of 12,000 is Maronite, of which 8300 were registered voters in 1992.  Kobayat is at it’s busiest during summer when the weather is warm (average temperatures from May to October are low to mid 20degrees with low levels of rainfall).  During the colder winter months of November to March average temperatures are much lower and there is significant rainfall, during the middle of winter Kobayat can experience heavy snow cover.  During this period the village is much quieter with a population of 5000-6000 permanent residents..

 

In the 1890’s people from Kobayat started to migrate abroad primarily to Brazil and Venezuela.  Since those days a continued tradition of international trave sees sons and daughters of Kobayat in all corners of the world.

 

Etymology

Kobayat (Al Quobaiyat) Arabic : القبيات; is derived from the  Aramaic “Qbayya” which means large pool of water, the “at” in Kobayat denotes a plural and means a place rich in water.

 

Kobayat History

 

Kobayat has been populated for over 2500 years with evidence of cemeteries from the bronze age.  Artefacts from continuous inhabitation through the iron age, phonecian, Greek and Roman eras until today can be found within the village. Kobayat’s early history was influenced by two major factors, firstly the fertility of the valley and secondly it’s location on the silk road, a trading route between East and West Asia through the Mediterranean and on to Rome, the capital of the ancient world.

 

Kobayat has been the largest village Akkar since the Ottoman age The name of Al Qoubaiyat apears in documents from the legislative court of Tripoli during the 17th century recording it, at that time as the largest village in Akkar and a contributor of taxes.

 

Ducousso, a French consul to Lebanon described Kobayat in 1912 by stating "These valleys are fascinating by their surprising fertility" a reference to the historical and ongoing tradition of agriculture in the valley.  To this day market gardens, olive and fruit orchards dot the valley and surround many houses.

 

Traces of this Kobayat’s history can be found by the inquisitive visitor, a pagan Phoenician altar remains in front of "St.Chahlo" church, Phoenician, Greek and Roman currency is held at "Ghassalet" church and at "Chahlo".  Roman tombs exist in within the village boundaries, as well as two larger Roman ruins.  The temple of the God "Ban", in Helsban Saint Valley has been transformed in a church baptized under the name of st. Artimos-Challita. The second is the castle of Chouita, which bears witness of the events of the Umayad-Byzantine wars.  During the construction of the convent of Mar Doumit of the Carmelite Fathers on this site jars, jewellery and other artefacts were found.  The roman history of Kobayat is one of great prosperity particularly during the first centuries of Christianity.

 

Other references to Kobayat in history

1557, Sema'an Ibn Chama'a el Kobayati a poet of "zajal" appeared from Kobayat

1589, two priests from Kobayat Simon and Sarkis participated in the aggregation of Kannoubine with the emissary of Pope Eliano.

1614, brother Daniel el Akkari from the farm Chouita-Kobayat constructed the convent of St.Thomas in Hasroune.

 

Education.
Education is very important in Kobayat and has been important factor in the development of Kobayat during 20th century.  It is this education which continues to see people of Kobayat working across the globe.  Attainment levels in local education are high and travel to Beirut or to other countries for higher education is the norm.  Many inhabitants attend university with higher degrees such as masters and doctorates not uncommon.

 

The culture of organized education in Kobayat commenced with the Italian Religious Mission of the Carmelite Fathers who arrived to Kobayat in the middle of the 19th century.  This mission undertook significant cultural and social activity in addition to their spiritual role.  The mission established a free school for the poor and orphans, assuring them books, meals and clothes.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century the original school was divided into several branches which were established outside of the Zouk in Kobayat’s suburbs.  Today there are many educational institutions in Kobayat, these are:

Public: kindergarten, primary, complementary and secondary classes, teachers college.

Private: kindergarten, primary, complementary, of the Carmelite fathers.

A kindergarten, primary classes, complementary of the Charity's sisters,

A private technical School.

A Nursery School belonging to the hospital Saydet el Salam.

 

After the French mandate established a nearby military barracks this provided an employment opportunity for the educated youth of Kobayat.  Their ability to progress quickly through the ranks meant important incomes which contributed to the village’s development.  The ongoing benefit of a highly educated and mobile population continues today with many expatriates returning to build new houses and businesses after successful careers around the globe.

 

Public Administration
Kobayat was one of the first municipalities in Akkar established in 1912. In 1922, at the beginning of the French mandate, Kobayat became the center of "Caïm-macamiya". After the reunification of Akkar into one "Caïm‐macamiya", Kobayat became again a municipal administration center.  Municipal expenses depend on the required public works (roads and networks maintenance). Yearly salaries vary around 30 000 000L.L to 35 000 000L.L per year. Qobayat municipality gets around 400 000 000L.L from the government, as its annual budget.

 

Municipal Buildings
Kobayat has a court, a civil states register, a state police station,  a center of General Safety, a centre of social welfare, a public polyclinic, a post office and a telephonic exchange, a public laboratory of analysis, a centre of civil Defense, a notary, an electrical station,the water service of Kobayat centre and, a state control office for tobacco and tombac (tobacco for Nargile).

 

Educational institutions

Public: kindergarten, primary, complementary and secondary classes, teachers college.
Private: kindergarten, primary, complementary, of the Carmelite fathers.
The kindergarten, primary classes, complementary of the Charity's sisters.
private technical School.
Nursery School belonging to the hospital Saydet el Salam.

 

Civil institutions
Agricultural cooperative, several groups Scouts of Lebanon, the guides, an environment council, a Caritas centre, public Library, les scouts et guides sainte moura.

 

 

Private medical institution
Hospital Saydet el Salam (Our Lady of the Peace) for the sisters Antonines.
Malta's knights polyclinic.
Pharmacies, many clinics covering all medical fields.

 

Kobayat Economy
Kobayat has a variety of businesses and is the centre of a vibrant region.  Historically timber, tar production, metal work, silk production and hoursehold products formed part of the economy. 

 

Silk Manufacture was particularly important during 20th century, at its height, in the middle of the century, there were six working mills One renovated and working mill continued until late in the century employing  up to 100 staff, and it’s 30m chimney is a local landmark.

 

Public Employment – Up to 80% of the population is in public service. Many join the military and related service roles including the army, police,  state, general security, customs and civil defense organisations. Others are employed in administrative functions from the entry level municipal roles to political leadership, ambassadors and general directors.  Continuing the theme of education others work as teachers and educators in higher level academic roles.

Self Employment – Kobayat supports private physicians, engineers, lawyers, small business owners. Kobayat occupied some ministries of some governments whereas it is nearly represented continually at the parliament by a deputy.  The centre of Kobayat is a busy crossroads with many café’s and shops.

Agriculture (approximately 5%)– Originally a major centre for blackberries this is now centred around fruit (apple, pear and cherries) olives, tobacco, vegetables and the production of seeds.  In addition there are poultry farms, goats, sheep and fish hatcheries. Until the civil war when fire consumed large tracts of forest timber was grown, some pine and oak stands remain from this period on the peaks surrounding Kobayat .

 

Restaurants
Superior level restaurants: Al Wadi (Marchalita), Morgan, Monte Verde, Challal Essamaq (Torrent of fish), Due mila, Al-Jandoul (Gondola), other restaurants inside the city, Snack bar and pastries.

 

 

Churches
Early churches of the region were simple structures which resembled the houses which surrounded them.  Progressively the art of church construction developed, in the beginning of the 20th century, the east wall of churches evolved to accommodate large portraits of the patron saint, a trend imported from Europe.  As a result local churches transformed from simple cubic rooms to a more complex architectural style.  The church of the Carmelite Fathers in Kobayat is a fine example of the splendour and ornate style which developed.

 

Local Pastoral churches are:

 

The church of the miraculous Saydet el Ghassalet (an old and a new building), Saydet el Habal (Zouk), Saydet el Intisar (Our Lady of the Victories in Katlabeh), Mar Charbel (Katlabeh), Saydet Moura (Martmoura), Saydet el Intikal (Dahr), Mar Gerges (Ghowaya), Mar Doumit (the convent of the Carmelite Fathers), Saydet el Chambouk, The 40 martyrs (Gharbieh).

 

In Andaket, the pastoral churches are: Mar Challita, Mar Maroun (new), Our Lady.

 

The monumental sanctuaries are: Mar elias (Oudine), Mar Elian, Mar saba, Mar Challita, Mar Sarkis and Bakhos, Saydet Kammah, Mar Gerges in Chouita, Saydet Ghazrata, Saydet Chahlo, convent of Saint Georges in Martmoura.

 

It is not necessary to forget the ancient ruins in Akroum most of which are churches and convents as well as the church Mar Challita and Saydat el Qalaa, in Menjez.

 

Kobayat Houses

The heart of a Lebanese village home is the hearth, a chimney around which families meets to warm themselves in winter, to cook, to eat and to sleep and to talk.  Traditionally a stall for livestock was built next to this room.  Livestock was precious, core to a families livelihood and were kept close.  The animals kept defined architecture of this component of the house with low and narrow doors for cows and large and high doors if you owned camel.  Screens of rosebushes or mud coated oleander thatch separated these rooms.  The front of each house had a large terrace extends for cool in summer.  Many houses in Kobayat still have this terrace covered in grape vines fro shade and fruit.

 

Larger houses of local merchants and the priests were differentiated by higher ceilinged rooms, stonework, niches for oil lamps to light the dwelling.  These houses had a cellar for livestock – normally the notable's horse.  These houses are normally wid, made in stone, with facades of containing two or three arches.  Stairways were made of stone with ravens holding the balconies and the wide arches opening on big halls

 

With the blooming of the commercial market at the end of the 19th century the construction of luxurious houses with professional builders commenced.  These builders hailed from all over the orient, from places such as Aleppo and Dhour el Choueir.  As a result houses from this period are sculpted in a number of styles and decorated with statues and carvings of lions, fruits, flowers and all natural subjects.

 

Most recently the wealth of Kobayat emigrants has returned and contributed to a boom in modern stone constructions combining western and local styles.


Arabic Version - French Version - English Version - Spanish version

Preparation : Rev.Raymond Abdo ocd

Texts : Dr. Fouad Salloum - Dr. Cezar Mourani ocd

Translations : Sandra Chidiac - Nathalie Abi Rached - Georges K. Ghosn & wife - Ken Cousins

Design & support : webmaster Elie Abboud

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