How can you not be proud when your village faithfully depicts the heritage and culture of your own country, so well preserved after hundreds of years? I can assure you that, when visiting Mtein, one of Mount Lebanon’s prettiest and oldest villages, you will feel it all: the historic past, the rich culture, thearchitectural heritage, and above all, the pride.
Where to start?
In the village’s square, where all the history is. The architecture of the Square or “Midan” takes you back to the 16th century when the Al-Lamaayiin Emirs took up residence in Mtein (until 1840) and built the five palaces that we still can see today. The beautiful mix of Arabic and baroque styles recalling the architecture of Deir el Qamar remains a characteristic of this village, where many old buildings and palaces survive. The square is today where festival, musical and many entertaining events are held.
The Square is also home to the village’s municipality, but most importantly, to the Mtein Museum of Arts. This was the highlight of my visit, and I’m confident it will be yours too. Hosting a superb collection of art pieces from mainly Lebanese artists, the museum was the initiative of the village’s people, to not only restore old spaces and buildings but also encourage and preserve cultural awareness and heritage. Browse a stunning selection of paintings and sculptures inside a truly beautiful arch-based architecture. It was a great opportunity for me to discover some local artists and gaze at much-longed-for inspiring art, knowing that all these art pieces were actually donated to the museum. How beautiful is that?
Continue your tour to what’s remaining of Mtein’s silk factories. Originally home to seven factories, Mtein was known for its abundant berry production and silk manufacturing. Today, what you can still see are the ruins of only one of those factories. The village is also rich in many Roman and Byzantine remains that are scattered throughout.
While touring the village, you will pass by impressive sculptures that are true works of art. The four pieces, pertaining to artists Nabil Helo, Nabil Basbous, Zaven Hadichian, and Chukrallah Fattouh, are beautiful pieces of art bought by Mteinis decorating the streets of the town and complementing its cultural wealth.
More beautiful facts to know about Mtein:
- Mtein has a public library, which offers a unique selection of books in all languages.
- Mtein has 4 schools, the oldest of which goes back to 1792.
- Mtein is also home to the Museum of Georges Kheirallah, which contains a hundred works and articles pertaining to the great artist. Kheirallah’s works have toured the world and are part of several collections in Lebanon, Italy, France, America, etc.
It’s worth noting that the importance of Mtein’s heritage has been recognized by the Lebanese government, who in 1957 issued a decree placing the historic sites here under its protection.