Kfarshleiman: Smallest village in Batroun district, yet an attraction to Heritage and Religious Tourism

Wed 17 Oct 2012 at 12:20 Know Lebanon


Translated by: Lina Yehya Reidan
 "Best perfumes come in the smallest bottles,” this expression applies to Kfarshleiman village; for it is the smallest village in Batroun district, yet still  embraces lots of spiritual, humane and cultural fountains that place Kfarshleiman on the list of international tourism. They also draw religious and cultural attention to its landmarks.
Kfarshleiman has a rich cultural history embodied in the many ruins found in it such as the temple of Sidnaya, "Bir Al Ras" (the head well), a Church named after the village's patron Saint , St. John and was built on the rubbles of the temple of St. Sarkis and Bakhos.
Kfarshleiman is getting ready to reveal its ancient historical ruins, which will entitle it to be not only religious, but also an environmental tourism destination.
Location and Name:
Kfarshleiman, measuring 100 Hectares only, is located at the center of Batroun district at an altitude of 700 m; and is 68 Km away from Beirut and 46 Km away from Tripoli.
 "Shleiman" which is derived from the name Suleiman. Duly, Kfarshleiman means "Land of Suleiman ". It is said that the wise King Suleiman came to the village. Lived and built a kingdom there. Accordingly, it was named after him.
Kfarshleiman has a population of 100 people. Its most known families are: Bassil, Elias, Yaacoub and Youssef.
Historical Heritage:
Visiting Kfarshleiman, the village and castle, an observer feels awe when contemplating its temple, Sidnaya. Archeologists expect that the temple was previously a cemetery.
Sidnaya, is a one room temple of a rectangular shape: (L, 2.75m length, 1.48 m width and 1.8 m height) engraved in rock. Its ceiling and walls are covered by inscriptions hidden under a layer of black ashes which is said to result from incense burning or setting fire to the place, amid the 20th century.
Murals and Restoration:
Thanks to the Italian specialist, Eva Liberty, who had worked, upon the request of the Lebanese Association for preserving Murals of Old Churches in Lebanon, for four years in collaboration with the two professionals Naela Bilan and Alyssa Felitchy, on restoring and revealing the murals in the temple. Luckily, the restoration works resulted in showing spectacular engravings  of Jesus the Christ and his students, the Virgin Mary and a warrior (said to be St. Georges ) riding his horse.
 "Sidnaya" temple is considered one of the first Churches in which restoration works took place and revealed awesome inscriptions.
Stories mention that the Church was named Sidnaya after the "Saydnaya" convent in Syria which dates back to about 547 A.C.
Historians say that when the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I, led his armies out to attack the Persians, he had to pass through "Naya", a desert region in Syria. After marching for a certain period of time, they ran out of water and became very thirsty, when suddenly a deer appeared before them out of nowhere. Justinian started chasing it. Not giving him an opportunity to shoot it, the deer led him to a pure spring. Then, it was transformed to an icon of Virgin Mary which asked him to build a Church for her at that hill and disappeared.
Later Emperor Justinian saw that same deer again in his dream. It drew for him a plan for a gorgeous convent. The plan was exactly the same as the one used later for building the convent which still carries its grandness and Byzantine beauty.
"Sidnaya”, is a two-Syriac word which means "Our Lady". It also means "the land of hunting”. Nowadays, people celebrate every year the birth of Virgin Mary on September 8. This ritual is considered one of the oldest rituals that were held for Virgin Mary; and Kfarshleiman takes prides in being the oldest village in Batroun district that celebrates it.
Stories mention that after Patriarch Youssef Al Tayyan resigned from heading the patriarchate in 1809, he used to stay alone at the temple praying for a period of two days. Then, the Patriarch accepted, upon the request of his friend (one of the village citizens), to stay in the village. Later, his friend arranged to build a room for him to live in, next to Sidnaya Church.
The Kingdom's Ruins:
Archeologists consider that the Kingdom (Suleiman's Kingdom) of which some of its basis and walls are engraved in stones, had formed an extension of intricate stone inscriptions for Kfarshleiman hills to the neighboring Rashkedda village. There also existed an engraved stone stairs that extended amid the Kingdom next to the temple, up the village, and then towards Rashkedda village. Some ruins of those stairs are still found, while the rest lie under the surface of the ground.
Scientists expect that the Kingdom, if excavated and revealed, would have a historical and cultural role, not to mention its tourism role.
Bir El Ras  
In addition to the burial rooms, lanterns and mills which spread all through the Kingdom, Bir El Ras also receives a big number of believers. According to an old ritual, Bir El Ras was mostly visited by parents and families who have a child whose brothers and sisters die after birth. The ritual stated that the child has to step over the well and repeat certain expressions to save the newborns from death.
This is Kfarshleiman, the small village which became a destination for tourists, believers and researchers.
The people of Kfarshleiman hope that after the restoration of murals, their village will witness a prosperous tourism future. They also call upon authorities to work on excavating and revealing the ancient heritage that lies hidden in their village.

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