ANFEH, KOURA DISTRICT
Anfeh, is a Antiochian Orthodox village in the Koura district of the North Governorate of Lebanon at Latitude 34°21’0″N and Longitude 35°44’0″E. Anfeh borders the villages of chekka, Al-Qalamoun, barghoun and zakroun. It is located 65 Kilometers north of Beirut and 15 Kilometers south of Tripoli. Its total area is 4,937,721 m2, and its population is around 6,500.
Remains from at least 3,000 years of human occupation lie tangled among the myrtle and brambles of this 400 meter long and 120m wide peninsula. It is partially separated from the land by two great trenches-dug into the bedrock during the Crusader period. While Anfeh has witnessed only minor excavation, Phoenician and Roman walls, wine presses, mosaic floors, and two seventh-century-A.D. chapels lie bare beneath the intense sun and wind. This lovely seaside fishing town is known for its ancient churches and caves. Today Anfeh is also known for its salt production. Close to Anfeh is the Crusader-era Abbey of Balamand, which sits on a promontory overlooking the sea
Today’s village of Anfeh is built around the ruins of several short-lived cities going back to the pre-Phoenician period. Natural dwelling caves abound on the surrounding hill of Al-Gheer; the original city lies on a small near-island about half a kilometer into the sea. Its outstanding feature is that it is the only town throughout the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to be carved out of its rocky surroundings. Some of the carvings go all the way back to the Phoenician period, and possibly earlier, as witness to the fact that the name of Anfeh appears in the Tell-Amarna tablets of ancient Egypt; (see letter no. 2 by Yapa-Hadda). which were sent by the governors of the coastal Canaanite cities to the Pharaohs of Egypt asking for help in repelling Amorites intruders (nomad tribes originating from the middle Euphrates region in the North). Letters written by Rib Addi, the King of Byblos, specifically mention the Canaanite city of Anfeh (called “Ampi” in the letters) and state that Anfeh, after being occupied by the Amorites, fought with the Amorites against Byblos. Anfeh was conquered by the Assyrian army in the 7th century B.C., when it was known as “Anpa”. The remains of subsequent settlements include dwelling caves, places of worship, cisterns, water tanks and wine presses, as well as steps and roads all carved in the rock. One ancient quarry, known as the Great Trench, was used by the Phoenicians as a dry dock; The Phoenicians used the place as a shipyard for the construction of their vessels as a strategic point of the mediterrannean cost.
The Crusades Period
The Anfeh peninsula was once a mighty fortress area, the Crusader castle of Nephin (enfeh), fief of the Counts of Tripoli. The Crusader Lords of Nephin, triply safe behind the walls of Anfeh, the vast rock-cut moat which severed the peninsula from the town, and the sea-swept battlements of their citadel, soon established a reputation as robber barons, the terror of travelers between Jerusalem and Tripoli. The town itself had a better reputation, for its wines were known and prized far and wide throughout the Latin kingdom in the 12th and 13th Centuries. Anfe entered its glory days during the Medieval era, and most of the archaeological and historical monuments that can be seen today date from this period. Around the 13th century, Anfe was a small, fortified village surrounded by fertile fields, and it was famous for its wine production. It was one of the lordships of the county of Tripoli, governed by French provincial nobles from the Renoir family. The French Lord was eventually chased out of Anfe by the Prince of Antioch Bohemond IV, the Lord of Beirut, and the Genoese, and he took refuge in Cyprus. Enfeh, as a cell or a hive sculptured out of the ground, is surrounded by walls and fortifications of enormous stones hauled from the nearby quarries. In 1282, Anfe was part of one of the greatest plots that marked the end of the Crusades. The Lord of Byblos, the Genoese, and the Knights of the Temple (a secret brotherhood established during the Crusades) rose up against the Count of Tripoli Bohemond VII, but they were brutally crushed. Bohemond VII punished the Genoese by blinding them, and he buried alive the Lord of Byblos and his family in the Fort of Anfeh.
Fall of Tripoli
In 1289 Sultan Qalawun suddenly attacked, captured and destroyed Tripoli. The knights who escaped from the burning city to the two remaining coastal castles of Batroun and Nephin (Anfeh) were unable to withstand the full fury of the Mamluk army and beat a further retreat to the island kingdom of Cyprus. Sultan Qalawun destroyed both castles so thoroughly that even the site of Batroun’s citadel is lost from history. With Nephin (Anfeh) it was a different story, for here the Crusaders had performed one of the great engineering feats of the Middle Ages. They had cut off the peninsular fortress from Anfeh proper by cutting a great moat, at sea level, all the way across the peninsula, for over 100 yards, through the living rock, leaving only a small spur in the center at the south end to support the castle’s drawbridge.
Enfeh has a Mediterranean climate characterized by four notably different seasons with a moderate nice weather during spring time. Summers are mainly hot, while winters are cold and rainy.
Its population is estimated to be around 6,500, not including the thousands of emigrant families and young individuals.
One of the many Lebanese villages where the number of inhabitants is a speck compared to the number of villagers abroad. Global emigration occurred as far back as the mid 19th century with records showing young men and families migrating to the new world mainly Australia and the Americas (North and South). The emigration continues till the present day. Some families are extinct and others are greatly reduced in number. However in the diaspora, if you visit any major city or town specially in Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Canada or the USA you will almost certainly find someone whose ancestors come from this village. During holidays specially summer many of the empty houses are joyfully cleaned and return to life with visiting families.
Anfeh is primarily Antiochian Orthodox, and there are several historical churches and local shrines throughout the village.
Farid Makari: Lebanese politician since 1980, He was elected as a member of the Lebanese Parliament in 1992 and reelected in 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009, he served as information minister in Hariri’s second cabinet from 25 May 1995 to 7 November 1996, Former Vice-President of Lebanese Parliament since 2005.
Wide areas of enfeh and its surrounding are covered by salines. Along the length of the bay, the salt marshes add a typically pretty note to the landscape, especially with the traditional wind wheel which pumps seawater. The production of sea salt is a staple of the local economy. “White gold”, as it is called, provides for an inexhaustible natural resource which can thus be extracted without endangering the environment.
Around 415 inhabitants practice fishing on a regular basis. The 80 full-time fishermen own their boats and maintain them. Fishing is the livelihood and main source of income for many families in Anfeh. Fishing boats have sought shelter in the natural harbor of Nhayreh in bad weather conditions. The large terraces on Anfeh’s rocky coast shelter underwater species feeding on the seaweed and attract large numbers of fish. That place also attracts many anglers willing to fill their baskets with different types of fish. Fishing, by itself, is an art in Anfeh, inherited by its ancestors.
Fruits consist mainly of: Olive trees producing quality table olives and olive oil, and Grapes (seedless and non seedless).
Anfeh, attracts a lot of tourists, especially during summer time, for its beautiful picturesque landscape of small white houses, windmills, and salines on its rocky beaches along the mediterranean cost. its historical monuments, old churches, and archeological site of its peninsula, make it one of the top touristic destinations of the Lebanese northern cost.
Anfeh is well equipped to receive tourists. it has a number of sea food restaurants, as well as cafes and bars. as well as beach studios mostly occupied by locals during summertime, and by students of nearby universities during winter.
Anfeh is equipped with one public schools ( Gebran Makari School ). Private schools are available in the surrounding region of el-Koura, and in the nearby city of Tripoli. The three top universities of northern Lebanon, are around 5 to 10 minutes by car, like balamand university, usek in chekka, and USJ in Al-Qalamoun.
Hiking and swimming
Lying between the natural harbor of Nhayreh and the archaeological peninsula, the Anfeh creek consists of an attractive rocky shore shaped as a perfect semi-circle at whose bottom lie many sandy underwater caves. It has become a haven for hikers and swimmers who are drawn to its well-preserved view and always clear water. Many swimmers enjoy the wavy clear sea of enfeh, others prefer the olympic swimming pools that are available for practicing outdoor in summer and indoor in winter. During the war, Lebanese national swimming championships were mostly held in las salinas and marina del sol in enfeh.
Anfeh is known for its clear water, one of the cleanest waters on the Lebanese coast, home to a wide variety of fish. the archaeological peninsula hides many secrets in its bottoms below sea level, attracting curious divers.
The waves of anfeh’s sea are not big enough for surfing, and its rocky shore doesn’t help much. although its mostly windy weather during summer, makes it a top destination for wind surfing. equipement rental are available in town. Recently the wind of enfeh is attracting the new small kite surfing community of Lebanon, a sport that is gaining fast popularity in the region.
Arts And Culture.
Anfeh’s mediterranenan landscape has attracted the cameras of various film directors. The town has been the set of several local movies. Cinema is very popular in Enfeh. The town has the number one cinema theatres in the north, Grand cinemas las salinas.
Easily accessible from the main Beirut-Tripoli highway, taking the Enfeh exit. Although it is also reachable by taking the chekka exit and heading north, or the balamand exit and heading south. The roads are satisfactory and well maintained by the municipality. The road through town is the old main road that connects Beirut to tripoli, now called the seaside road, parallel to the old train railway.
Threats to Anfeh’s Archaeology.
The ancient archaeological site was put in danger by a proposed expansion to the adjacent port that would have compromised its historical integrity. Even after the project was sidelined, development pressures from nearby communities continue to threaten the long-term preservation of the site.
our lady of the wind church.