Jounieh

Overview

Introduction

We're told that Jounieh was a quiet, quaint town until fighting in the capital caused scores of Beirutis to relocate there. The influx of people begot high-rise development, and Beirutis, naturally, brought with them a demand for nightlife. The result: There's not a single undeveloped plot along the highway between Beirut and Jounieh, and the once sedate town is now a rather tawdry Lebanese version of Monte Carlo, complete with the well-known Casino de Liban.

Despite the clutter of highways and high-rise buildings, Jounieh's setting is still one of the most beautiful along the Lebanese coast. For the best view of the crescent-shaped bay, take the steep cable car (telepherique) to Harissa. (The station is in the middle of Jounieh on the old coastal road.) At the other end of the cable-car line you transfer to an incline car, which takes you to the lookout point surrounding the shiny, white statue of the Virgin of Lebanon. If you want to go still higher, you can climb the ramp around the statue's base. (The closer you come to her lowered, outstretched hands, the narrower the ramp becomes—and the pushier people get.) The view is spectacular, though, and the virgin, seen from close up, has a sweet, sad charm.

On your way to or from Jounieh you can stop at Nahr al-Kalb (the Dog River) to view inscriptions carved into the river-gorge walls by a long line of conquering armies. Jounieh is 15 mi/20 km north of Beirut.

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