Located in the district of Baabda, 1,200 meters above sea level, Hammana makes a lovely afternoon “balade”. A bouquet of red-tiled houses nestled in green nature and surrounded by a valley, the typical Lebanese village calls for a journey to an era that was praised, if not by too many, by French novelist and poet Lamartine himself.
Your visit to Hammana should definitely include the following stops:
- Hammana’s Waterfalls
Hammana is known for its many water sources. A nice one can be seen from the famous Chaghour restaurant. A 30-minute hike up can take you to more impressive falls than the one I’ve seen (pic below). I did not venture as the waterfalls were naturally dry in July. Try to schedule your visit in the Spring to enjoy beautiful sights.
- The Souks and Square
Take a walk in the souks of Hammana to discover the cute little shops centered around a fountain, with a traditional cachet so well preserved. You’ll definitely feel you’ve taken a trip down memory lane, back to the old days of Lebanon.
- Al Mezher Palace
Hammana is definitely home to beautiful traditional palaces and villas but there is one you should absolutely not miss. Standing majestically on a rock overlooking the valley of Hammana is the 700 year-old Mezher Palace which once hosted the French poet Lamartine, his wife, and daughter Julia. Enthralled by the magic of this place, Lamartine writes about it when describing his voyage in the Orient in 1832: “The Mezher castle of the Sheikh of Hammana surpasses in elegance, grace and nobility all that I have ever seen of its kind..” Today, a commemorative plaque is placed in the room where the poet used to sleep.
PS: Do not hesitate to go inside the house. If you’re lucky enough as I was, you will be welcomed and showed around by the lovely Soha Mezher, granddaughter of Sheikh Mezher of Hammana.
Next to the main Mezher Palace was built another one, also pertaining to the extended family and depicting the same architectural style, inside which I was offered a guided tour by the lovely Soha.
- The Old Cinema
In the souks of Hammana, a big signage steals your attention reading “Roxy Center, Cinema Theater, Amusement Center”. And guess what? It’s all still there, both the cinema theatre and the amusement center. Apart from offering ice cream and popcorn, the place displays some game machines for kids and a space for ping pong tables. Climb the stairs of the building and you’ll reach the old cinema theatre where probably your grandparents and mine used to sit. It’s amazing to see that the room hasn’t changed a bit after all this time. Take the stairs to the rooftop and here, in a small storage room, you will find a rusted projection machine, still trying to resist the burden of time.
Hammana is known for its delicious cherries. Every year in the month of June, the village attracts flocks of people to its annual cherry festival, organized by Hammana municipality and Souk el Tayeb. Apart from cherries, the event celebrates local produce and specialties across Lebanon.
Given that Hammana has a river that runs through one of the deepest valleys of Lebanon, it offers an ideal environment for canyoning. If you wish to combine hiking and canyoning, you can start with an amazing 9km trail, from the famous bridge of Mdeirij passing through the cedars of Hammana, all the way down to the valley where you can swim or do your canyoning.
- Hammana Artist House
Recently launched under the direction of Collective Kahraba, Hammana Artist House is the new space dedicated to all kinds of performing arts. The new house strives to become the residency of local and international artists who can meet, create and perform there. Check the initiatiave’s facebook page here.
How to get there:
There are mainly two roads that lead to Hammana, the first from the Damascus Road, passing by Alley, Bhamdoun and Sawfar, the other from Metn, passing by Bois de Bologne and Bzebdine (which I totally recommend you to try for all the amazing scenery you will have the chance to see on the way!)