Batroun and Surroundings
Situated about 55 kilometers north of Beirut, the charming coastal Maronite town of Batroun is most attractive in summer, being highly popular for its beach clubs, water sports (surfing!) and nightlife. The traditional Ottoman houses and cobblestoned streets of the old town and Phoenician fishing port provide a pleasant environment for a stroll along its historical sites or to enjoy a lunch or dinner.
Little is known about the history of Batroun, even though this is one of the most ancient cities in the world. There was hardly any excavation performed there and early written documents are absent. Once a flourishing city and port in Phoenician times (3000 - 64 BC), Batroun is likely the ‘Batruna’ mentioned in the 14th-century BC Tal el-Amarna tablets of Egypt. The Greeks gave it the name Botrys, ‘bunch of grapes’, referring to the vineyards that covered the area. Both the name and the vineyards were maintained during Roman (47 BC - 395) and Byzantine times (until 636). The town suffered greatly from Lebanon’s coastal earthquake and tidal wave in 551. It were the Arabs who gave it the name Batroun, while during Crusader times (1104 - 1289) it was known as ‘Le Butroun’ as part of the Country of Tripoli. The best-known period in Batroun’s history was under Ottoman rule from 1861 - 1918, during which it flourished in religion, culture, architecture and economics, as still shown by the beautiful Ottoman houses, and Saint George and St Stephen Cathedral. During this time, Batroun also prospered from its surrounding trees (mulberry, olive, almond and fig), vineyards, wheat and tobacco, and became the birthplace of some famous writers and poets. During the 1960s and 1970s, the main street of Batroun was part of the old Beirut - Tripoli highway and traffic passed right through the city.
The traditional Ottoman houses and cobblestoned narrow streets of the old town and Phoenician fishing port provide a pleasant environment for a stroll along its well signposted historical sites or to enjoy a lunch or dinner in one of its seafood restaurants. Outside the old town, one can easily spend a day at one of Batroun’s southern beach clubs or experience some culture at the Mousaylaha Castle north of Batroun. Since 1998, there is also the opportunity to enjoy a wine tasting tour at one of the wineries located in the mountains surrounding Batroun.