Written by Ghassan Azar
Translated by Daisy Khalil
When you visit Kfaraabida village (Batroun) and cross its old sea road, excavation works on one of the village’s hills immediately draw your attention. Archeologists working on that excavation project believe that the village dates back to the old Bronze Age, almost 4000 years BC.
This all started when an American University (AUB) student passed by the village in 2004 and noticed the excavations. The student told his archeology professor, Hermann Genz, who later took the initiative and started with a team of 14 students the discovery of this archeological site, especially during summertime. Professor Genz says the excavations area is almost 105 hectares, eagerly waiting for “what this cultural treasure might be hiding.”
Kfaraabida is a touristic coastal village dating back to the old age. Several populations have crossed its coasts, among which the Babylonians, the Houthis, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Turks and others, all leaving behind archeology and culture.
This coastal village is the gate to Lebanon’s North, through Madfoun- Thoum bridge. It is cut in half by the Beirut-Tripoli highway which, back in time, was a passage for Romans, crossed in 1889 by the Spanish archeologist and historian, Velasco Octavio del Real, who was fond of travelling around the world and discovering its archeology. He wrote a book entitled “From Rome to Jerusalem” after his visit to the sacred land on his way to Tripoli, Batroun Jbeil and Beirut.
Kfaraabida, the amazing coastal village, links together two historical and archeological cities, Jbeil and Batroun. Its highest hills stand 273 meters above sea level. Whoever visits this village has the opportunity to watch the sun rise behind its hills and then descend in its blue waters.
Kfaraabida, with the size of 346 Km2 and the population of 1725 person (as per the statistics of 2006), has almost 200 expatriates spread over the globe and nearly 1200 electors.
It is 2 kilometers away from Batroun, the casa’s center, 30 kilometers away from Tripoli, and 48 kilometers away from Beirut, the capital. From the west, Kafaraabida is surrounded by Eddeh and Basbina, from the west by the Mediterranean Sea, from the north by Batroun, with Thoum village on its southern frontiers.
Kfaraabida village is known for its meandering coastline, rich nature, diversified products, spacious lands and new roads. It has been, since the dawn of history, and due to its location, a strategic mandatory crossing point for populations and travelers. The village was also known for its railway which stopped working in 1988.
In 1982, the traffic was directed to Beirut-Tripoli highway which cut the village in half with a bridge that connects together its upper and lower parts, hence activating the construction movement.
It is to note that this village was a major point of surveillance and control which looked over Berbara hill from the south and Kouba hill from the north.
Kfaraabida’s coastal part is garnished with natural swimming areas while the upper area became a center for buildings and construction. Chalets and resorts with amazing views make of this village a center of attraction for visitors to spend the summer.
Kfaraabida holds the church of St. Sarkis and Bakhos which was built in 1912 and topped by a 32 meters high dome. In 1988, Kfaraabida’s municipality head, Tannous Feghaly, built for the church a square that matches its architecture. The church is nowadays a site for religious tourism. There is also the church of Our Lady of the ditch, the church of St. Antonios Alppaduana built in 1816, and the church of St. Jospeh (Dawra) built in 1956.
The village’s archeology proves that it has been inhabited by populations since the beginning of time. It has a Romanian well which used to be used for storing water for horses and cattle.
It is also known for its old olive presses, such as Dahr Al-Khan located in south west Kfaraabida, carved in rocks with a water well by its side.
The first school in town was under an oak tree, with Priest Antonius Nader as a teacher. Priest Nader was also known as the “Sheikh” as he was the reference for reconciliation between the village’s inhabitants. A church named after the parish was founded in 1890 and lasted until 1941.
The town witnessed a cultural renaissance and brought to the world a number of wise men of thought such as Monsignor Boutros Feghaly, and Priest Maroun Shakkour who were also the teachers of the poet and writer Maroun Abboud. It is to mention that the Archbishop Boutros Feghaly was one of former Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir’s mentors.
Amongst the villages’ sons, many were worth being honored, among of whom poets and writers. Kfaraabida has also paid tribute lately to the retired Gendarmerie Chief, Brigadier General Antoine Shakkour, and to the Director of the National News Agency (NNA), Mrs. Laure Sleiman Saab.
Kafraabida’s inhabitants are known for their agriculture. The village is now known for planting grapes, figs, olives and almonds, yet in the past, it was also cultivated with wheat, grains and berries.
The inhabitants of this village have emigrated towards several countries, among which the United States, some of them not being able to come back due to the economic hardship.
It is worth noting that, years ago, Bannoura Daher who was born in Kfaraabida, had survived the Titanic tragic drowning and pursued her trip to Ohio whereby the US government allocated for her a monthly salary of 75$ for the rest of her life.
In 1964, Habib Feghaly was elected as Kfaraabida’s municipality head. 34 years later (1998), the municipal council elected Tannous Feghaly as head of municipality. Feghaly is currently the Head of Batroun municipalities’ union.
The municipality headed by Tannous Feghaly had worked hard to develop Kfaraabida, rebuild its roads, rehabilitate its infrastructure, exploit agricultural zones, and reconstruct its houses and old archeological sites.
The municipality had also pledged to offer annual financial aid for the village’s official school and provide scholarships for the poor families.
The municipal council and its Head Tannous Fegahly still have in mind various plans and projects to be executed for the best of the village. Feghaly is still keen on putting into action his promises for Kfaraabida’s inhabitants, at different levels.
All of the above perfectly described Kfaraabida, the touristic and archeological village which is now subject to exploration so that archeologists would uncover what hides beneath its beautiful nature, as well as what historical and cultural facts the insides of this village could tell the world.