Wadi Qadisha

Wadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) 

The Qadisha valley in
Lebanon is one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world. Its monasteries, many of which are very old, stand in dramatic positions in a rugged landscape.

Nearby are the remains of the great forest of cedars of Lebanon, highly prized in antiquity for the construction of great religious buildings. The Qadisha Valley near Bsharre marks the start of a deep geological fault whose extending valleys reach to the sea. The word "Qadisha" comes from a Semitic rot meaning "holy" and Wadi Qadisha is the "Holy Valley". The gorge is best explored on foot. The Qadisha River, whose source is the Qadisha Grotto, runs through the valley, continuing down to Tripoli where it becomes the Abu Ali river.

On the old road between the Cedars and Bsharre is the Qadisha Grotto, where water thunders down from snow-fed springs. There is a sign that marks a footpath from the roadside to the cave, a walk of about ten minutes. The cave is lighted to show its limestone formations, but the rushing water and cool temperatures are the main attractions. Below the cave is a powerful waterfall, especially full in spring months.

Wadi Qadisha is both a nature reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1998.