My afternoon in the Silk Museum of Bsous was a pure voyage into the mysterious and extraordinary ways of nature and one into a once-upon-a-time prosperous era in Lebanon.
Nestled amidst yards of olive groves, grape vines and mulberry trees, the Museum, which was one of Lebanon’s 183 silk factories in the 19th century, is the last remnant of the country’s sericulture industry. Today, it stands as a cultural landmark that tries to preserve the glory of a past trade, reminding us of how the human-nature relationship can be harmoniously constructive.
Reaching your destination and before arriving to the museum building, you will walk a short and pleasant scented route amidst trees evoking the famous ‘Silk Road”, which represents the ancient network of trade routes through which exchanges of silk were made between the Land of the Cedar and the East and the West.
Opening in the month of May, the eco-museum (“term used for a space of culture that includes in its program the environment where men live and their relations with that environment”) comprises of a boutique shop welcoming you on the ground floor and an upper floor where all the magic is.
After watching a brief documentary about the life of a silkworms and the production of silk, you’ll be directed (by your designated guide) to the most impressive room of all where old images and 19th century machines await to take you back in time when silk constituted 45% of Mount Lebanon’s GDP, becoming the main activity for a large section of the population and creating great social and economic change in the lives of the Lebanese.
Besides learning about the detailed process of silk production, from worm to cocoon to silk thread, the museum is a chance to immerse yourself in a beautiful era of Lebanon, to travel back in time and get a taste of your own country’s ancestral rituals and traditions, and to discover an important part of its history where men, women, and foreigners had each a specific role in the silk industry.
A second room awaits to dazzle you with a permanent collection of silk clothes belonging to Alexandra Asseily, founder of the museum with her husband George Asseily. Alexandra reflects her own love of Oriental and European silks since she was a teenager through an elegant private collection where each timeless piece comes from a different corner of the word: China, India, Japan, Italy, France and Lebanon.
The museum opens Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm, and holds an annual exhibition featuring silk culture from around the world. It has also a very nice terrace where you can sip your tea and enjoy a breathtaking view.
So whenever you’re feeling bored and have few hours to kill, why not head to Bsous, minutes away from Hazmieh, and delve into this marvelous silk legacy so beautifully preserved.
How to get there:
Take the Hazmieh highway as if you’re heading to Aley. After driving just a few minutes, you’ll see a signage on the right indicating a road that can lead you to Bsous and the museum. With the many “Silk museum” signs you can see on your way, there is no chance to get lost.
Tel +961 5 940767