The Beqaa Valley (Arabic: وادي البقاع / ALA-LC: Wādī al-Biqā‘a; Lebanese: [bʔaːʕ]; also transliterated as Bekaa, Biqâ or Becaa) is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region. Industry also flourishes in Bekaa, especially that related to agriculture.
The Beqaa is a fertile valley in Lebanon, located about 30 km (19 mi) east of Beirut. The valley is situated between the Mount Lebanon to the west and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains to the east. It forms the northeasternmost extension of the Jordan Rift Valley, which stretches from Syria to the Red Sea. Beqaa Valley is about 120 km (about 75 miles) in length and has an average width of about 16 km (about 10 miles). It has a Mediterranean climate of wet, often snowy winters and dry, warm summers. The region receives limited rainfall, particularly in the north, because Mount Lebanon creates a rain shadow that blocks precipitation coming from the sea. The northern section has an average annual rainfall of 230 mm (9 inches), compared to 610 mm (24 inches) in the central valley. Two rivers originate in the valley: the Orontes (Asi), which flows north into Syria and Turkey, and the Litani, which flows south and then west to the Mediterranean Sea.
From the 1st century BC, when the region was part of the Roman Empire, the Beqaa Valley served as a source of grain for the Roman provinces of the Levant. Today the valley makes up 40 percent of Lebanon’s arable land. The northern end of the valley, with its scarce rainfall and less fertile soils, is used primarily as grazing land by pastoral nomads, mostly migrants from the Syrian Desert. Farther south, more fertile soils support crops of wheat, corn, cotton, and vegetables, with vineyards and orchards centered around Zahlé. The valley also produces hashish and cultivates opium poppies, which are exported as part of the illegal drug trade. Since 1957 the Litani hydroelectricity project—a series of canals and a dam located at Lake Qaraoun in the southern end of the valley—has improved irrigation to farms in Beqaa Valley.
Zahle, the capital of the Bekaa Valley
Zahlé is the largest city and the administrative capital of the Beqaa Governorate. It lies just north of the main Beirut–Damascus highway, which bisects the valley. The majority of Zahli’s residents are Lebanese Christian, including those belonging to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Maronite Church, and members of the Greek Orthodox Church. The town of Anjar, situated in the eastern part of the valley, has a predominately Armenian Lebanese population and is also famous for its 8th-century Arab ruins. The majority of the inhabitants of the northern districts of Beqaa, Baalbeck and Hermel, are Lebanese Shia & Sunni, with the exception of the town of Deir el Ahmar, whose inhabitants are Christians. The western and southern districts of the valley have a mixed population of Muslim, Christian, and Druze Lebanese. The town of Jib Janine with a population of about 9,000, is situated midway in the valley, and its population is Sunni. Jib Janine is a governmental center of the region known as Western Bekaa, with municipal services like the emergency medical services (Red Cross), a fire department, and a courthouse.
Due to wars, poverty, unstable economic and political conditions Lebanon faced in the past, and some failures within the agricultural sector, many previous inhabitants of the valley left for the coastal cities of Lebanon or emigrated from the country altogether.
Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek
The ancient Roman ruins of Baalbek, an ancient city named for the Canaanite god Baal. The Romans renamed Baalbek “Heliopolis” and built an impressive temple complex, including temples to Bacchus, Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun. Today, the ruins are the site of the Baalbeck International Festival, which attracts artists and performance groups from around the world.
The Umayyad ruins of Anjar
Our Lady of Bekaa, a Marian shrine located in Zahlé, with panoramic views of the valley.
Lebanon’s tallest minaret, located in the town of Kherbet Rouha
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bechouat
Pheonician Ruins, located in the village of Kamid El-Laouz
Roman Ruins, located in the town of Qab Elias
The Aammiq Wetland habitat for a myriad of migrating and resident birds and butterflies.
The Pyramid tower of Hermel at the northern end of the valley
The famous Wadi Arayesh area of Zahle, consisting of beautiful open air restaurants, cafes and arcades located on the river side of the Berdaouni river, a stream linking to the Litani.
Massaya vineyard Haddath Baallbeck
The Beqaa Valley is home to Lebanon’s famous vineyards and wineries. Wine making is a tradition that goes back 6000 years in Lebanon. With an average altitude of 1000 m above sea level, the valley’s climate is very suitable to vineyards. Abundant winter rain and much sunshine in the summer helps the grapes ripen easily. There are more than a dozen wineries in the Beqaa Valley, producing over six million bottles a year.
Clos Saint Thomas
Domaine des tourelles
Domaine de Baal
Die Bekaa-Ebene [Informationen für Deutsche] (arabisch البقاع al-Biqāʿ) ist eine Hochebene im Libanon, sie wird auch als die Obst- und Gemüsekammer des Landes bezeichnet. Sie erstreckt sich in Nord-Süd-Richtung im Osten des Landes. Dort befinden sich auch die beiden Städte Zahlé und Baalbek. Die meisten Siedlungen befinden sich an den Rändern der Bekaa.
Die Cannabis-Sorte “Roter Libanese” stammt aus der Bekaa-Ebene und wird dort heute (nach einigen Jahren Pause) wieder angebaut.
Die Ebene ist ungefähr 120 km lang und 8 bis 12 km breit und liegt eingebettet zwischen dem Libanongebirge und dem Antilibanongebirge. Sie liegt auf einer Höhe von ca. 900 m. Die Wasserversorgung erfolgt über zwei Flüsse, den Orontes (Nahr al-Asi) im nördlichen und den Litani im südlichen Bereich.
Die Bekaa-Ebene hat ein fast kontinentales Klima. Im Jahresverlauf ist es trockener, im Sommer heißer und im Winter kälter als in den Gebieten westlich des Gebirges. Ein Teil der Gebiete hat schon Steppencharakter, da sie so trocken sind. Nur in der Bekaa-Ebene, im Norden und auf den Bergen des Libanon schneit es, im Rest des Landes nicht. Das Klima an den Rändern ist milder und feuchter, dort wurde auch der Begriff Obst- und Gemüsekammer des Landes geprägt. In diesem grünen Gürtel liegen die meisten Siedlungen der Ebene.