The Qadisha Valley (Ouadi Qadisha, or وادي قاديشا in Arabic) is a valley that lies within the Becharre and Zgharta Districts of North Lebanon. The valley is a deep gorge carved by the Kadisha River, also known as the Nahr Abu Ali when it reaches Tripoli. Kadisha means "Holy" in Aramaic, and the valley, sometimes called the Holy Valley, has sheltered Christian monastic communities for many centuries. The integrity of the Valley is at risk due to encroachment of human settlements, illegal building and inconsistent conservation activity.
Historians believe that the Qadisha Valley has had monastic communities continuously since the earliest years of Christianity. It was also at times a destination for Muslim mystics, or Sufis, who also visited it for meditation and solitude.
World Heritage Site
In 1998, UNESCO added the valley to the list of World Heritage Sites because of its importance as the site of some of the earliest Christian monastic settlements in the world, and its continued example of early Christian faith.
Christian monasticism in the valley
While there are numerous monasteries in the valley, there are several main monastic complexes:
The Qannubin Monastery
The Qannubin Monastery (Deir Qannubin (دير قنوبين ), is on the northeast side of the Qadisha Valley. It is the oldest of the Maronite monasteries; although its foundation is often attributed to the Emperor Theodosius the Great in 375AD, it is more likely that it was established by a disciple of St Theodosius the Cenobite. For the most part it is cut into the rock cliff side - monastic cells, church, cloister, and accommodation for travelers.
Qannubin used to be the Seat of the Maronite Patriarch.
The Monastery of St Anthony of Qozhaya
The Monastery of Our Lady of Hawqa
The Monastery of Mar Sarkis
Monastery of Saints Sarkis & Bakhos, Ehden
The Monastery of Mar Lishaa
The Monastery of Mar Elisha is perched on the cliff.
Other monastic establishments in the Qadisha are the Monastery of Mar Girgis, with the Chapel of Mar Challita, the Monastery of Mar Yuhanna, the Monastery of Mar Abun, with the Hermitage of Mar Sarkis, and the Monastery of Mart Moura, Ehden.