What is it in villages, hills, and heights that makes us feel so connected to our roots and the heritage of our country and its people? Is it because we’re closer to the sky and the sun, closer to where nature still flourishes freely and happily and where the soil still gives generously?
Perhaps it’s all that, but perhaps it’s also because here, people are still attached to their lands and to the strong belief that ancestral traditions and heritage should be dearly respected, preserved, and nurtured.
Exactly like Karim, whom I met during my latest stay in Les Terrasses de Abdelli. When discovering the abandoned beauty of Abdelli, a small village in the region of Batroun that has survived the hardships of the First World War, Karim and his father Nabil envisioned a project in the heart of the village, inspired by its own traditions, landscape, and environmental ideologies; a project that would contribute in reviving the mountains of Abdelli and its community life.
ABDELLI TERRACES ⋅ A village inside a village
Nestled in the region of Batroun and perched over a horizon of mountains, vineyards, and beaches is Abdelli Terraces. Initially the project of a family home, “Les Terrasses” is born out of a passion to share the charm and richness of this beautiful village. Faithful to Abdelli’s scenery and landscape, the guesthouse seems like a reproduction of the village itself with its traditionally renovated stone houses and its endless stretch of green lanes.
A walk in the hectares of land surrounding the houses reveals the tremendous efforts and commitment of a team to make of this place a true green haven. Colorful flowers greet you everywhere you look while you climb up and down the stairs to discover the agricultural terraces, olive trees, and vineyards that translate the family’s ambitious vision of promoting sustainable development and encouraging rural tourism in Lebanon.
ABDELLI TERRACES ⋅ An unwavering commitment to sustainability
Creating an innovative project that encompasses accommodation, wine production, and culinary events stems from the strong desire of reviving a forgotten village and boosting life inside its community. By employing local people and striving hand-in-hand with them to engrain an environmentally-conscious mentality and to spread eco-friendly ideologies and trends, the project hopes to set example for a larger community and a way of life. By renovating existing stone structures, upcycling materials, using an advanced solar panel system, and resorting to the reservoirs that were once carved in rocks to collect rainwater, the guesthouse adopts a sustainable approach that vows to give back to nature more than it takes from it.
Did you know?
The village of Abdelli is more than 1200 years old. “Abdelli” is an ancient word that signifies “Worshiper of God” in the ancient Syriac language. Throughout the centuries, the inhabitants of Abdelli shaped their natural surroundings through agriculture whilst striving to preserve it. The stone terraces stand as a testimony to generations of hard working villagers. In the steep mountainous reliefs, terraces were necessary to meet the needs of the farmer. Indeed, steep slopes provoke an acceleration of the flow of rainwater, and increase its erosive impact on the soil while taking away sediments. The constructions of fields in terraces were hence necessary to maintain the soil on the slopes. In Abdelli, grapes, olives, cereals, greens and fruit-trees were grown.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Abdelli had grown in importance to become a small town. These golden years of the village, however, did not last beyond the beginning of the twentieth century. In April 1915, the cropland was ravaged by a swarm of locusts. This plunged the population of Mount Lebanon in starvation until 1918. The insufficiency of harvests, corruption and an embargo on the whole country, provoked famine and large-scale emigration. With time, the abandoned cultivated land was reclaimed by wild vegetation until it was noticed again at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
What to do around Abdelli?
Walks around Abdelli can lead you to the convents of Sant Rafka, Hardine, Kfifane, and Deir Mar Yaacoub, as well as to the beautiful villages of Tannourine, Assia, Douma and Nehla, minutes away by car.
My visit to Abdelli Terraces was beautifully “arrosée” by a pleasant encounter with a young and passionate winemaker in his hometown of Nehla, North Lebanon. After many years of studying and working abroad, mainly in France, Maher decides to return to his village to cultivate, in the land of his ancestors, a passion for wine that has been haunting him. A walk in Maher’s vineyards and a chat with him under his favorite corner shaded by a big tree transported me in the magical world of wine making. Maher’s passion for wine is felt not only in his pleasure of sharing his knowledge and experience about this world, but also in the way he works his soil, he touches his grapes and looks after them, and most importantly in how he respects the balance of nature in every step of the wine making process. For him, nothing should intervene in nature’s way of doing things. Nature should be trusted, respected, and harmoniously approached; this is the only way to obtain a balanced wine, one that leaves in your mouth a taste so full that you never want it to fade.
That’s exactly what I felt when I tasted Maher’s wines. His exceptional selection of white and red wines reflect the optimal conditions of a chemical-free Lebanese terroir spoiled by the sunny climate of the Mediterrean, the refreshing nights of Nehla, and the ideal nature of Tannourine soil.
Maher awaits all the curious to shower them with his passion and knowledge of wine and share with them his delicious juices.
Karim and Maher are examples of how passion and genuine determination can lead to ambitious projects that go beyond the individual. Meeting with them, thanks to L’Hote Libanais, reminded me of the beautiful minds Lebanon still has, and which this amazing project of Lebanese guesthouses tries to assemble in one big family to make, hand in hand, a difference in our country. Behind the façade of guesthouses, what L’Hote Libanais truly strives to do is revive Lebanon’s environment and rural tourism, and commemorate its traditions and history based on a personal understanding of its culture and people.
Don’t be too long in discovering the charm of this breathtaking region!
Les Terrasses de Abdelli: 76-333569.
Maher Harb (Nehla): 70-570170.