Els Slots (The Netherlands):
Although this sounds like a natural WHS, the proposed area also includes the monuments and archeological sites in the region. Among these are Beiteddine Palace and Deir al-Qamar, two sites that have been on the T-List before on their own merits.
I went to both places on a half-day trip from Beirut. It is only a short drive from the Lebanese capital, and surely in the weekends it is a popular outing among locals. After having seen much of Lebanon already during the past week, I was still surprised by the originality of this region. Many Druze live here too, the most religious of them still wearing their traditional black and white costume.
Deir el-Qamar has a well-preserved town center, with a pretty little mosque dating from 1493. We visited the local wax museum in an old palace. Here all the great leaders of Lebanon and the World have been put together. Mubarak is still going strong here, and the older Bush stands brotherly beside Hezbollah-leader Nasrallah.
The highlight of this mountainous region I found the Beiteddine Palace. Room after room is decorated in an exuberant Arab-Italian style. It has a wonderful luxurious hammam. And the former horse stables are now used for the safekeeping of dozens excellent Byzantine mosaics (originally from the southern coast). A site not to be left out of any Lebanon itinerary, and it would make a nice new WHS because it focuses on a different period in Lebanese history.
Date posted: April 2012
Have you been to Ensemble du site naturel de la region du Chouf? Share your experiences!