Harissa is a mountain village that is located in the Keserwan district in the Governorate of Mount Lebanon. The town is situated north of the capital city of Beirut. The area is accessible from the nearby town of Jounieh. Visitors can arrive at the place either by car or a gondola lift known as Téléphérique. You can find a lot of interesting things to do in Harissa.
If you are planning to travel to Harissa, take a cable car that carries the passenger up to about 600 meters of height in a nine minutes journey, from Jounieh, leading to the top of the mountains to this amazing city. Going by road is also an option but it will not provide you with amazing views and experiencing the view of the city is one of the definite things to do in Harissa. Harissa can be defined as a mountain village that is located about 650 meters above sea level. For years, this place has served as the home to several pilgrimage sites such as “Our Lady of Lebanon” that continues to be the main tourist attraction. One of the first things to do in Harissa, as soon as you enter the city is to enjoy the picturesque view of the Bay of Jounieh. There are many things to do in Harissa such as exploring the ancient churches in the area such as Byzantine-style and Melkite Greek Catholic style structures, located in the Greek Catholic Monastery, which have been there since 1940. One of the best things to do in Harissa, if you consider yourself a bibliophile or just love to read up on history is to go to the local library and learn about the history of this city.
The definite places to visit in Harissa include the landmark and spectacular statue of the Virgin Mary known as “Our Lady of Lebanon”. The construction of this statue began by the end of the 19th century, whereas its inauguration took place in the year 1908. The base of this statue encloses a chapel and there is a spiral flight of stairs that leads to the top. There is also a beautiful cathedral of St. George with magnificent architecture, located near the Cable Car Terminus. Visiting the shrine located beneath the statue of “Our Lady of Lebanon” that has been dedicated to the Virgin Mary is also one of the definite things to do in Harissa. There are many other places to visit in Harissa as well, as it serves as a crucial pilgrimage site for the Christians. Apart from the statue of “Our Lady of Lebanon”, there are 20 churches and monasteries, which are based in the areas around the city. Many of these are built with a unique style of architecture, making them a must-visit in order to gain a magnificent architectural experience.
Standing on a height of 600 m, the immense statue called Our Lady of Lebanon overlooks the Jounieh bay with arms outstretched. Built and erected during the 19th century, the statue depicts the Virgin Mary and makes a major part of a sanctuary and can be reached via cable car. Our Lady of Lebanon is considered to be the patron saint of the country and the statue itself was carved in France. She was named the Queen of Lebanon in 1908 during the inaugural mass once the construction of the Basilica was completed. Till this day, the anniversary of the statue is celebrated during the first Sunday of May.
The shrine which it was built for is located about 1900 feet above sea level and the bird’s eye view it offers visitors leaves most mesmerized. It is often visited by pilgrims who have to take the cable car like everyone else to reach it from Jounieh right to the Harissa shrine. Also called the Notre Dame du Liban, the shrine was once visited by the Pope himself in 1997 when he wanted to show his support for Eastern Catholics and to educate the youth regarding Christianity.
Jounieh is one of the most holiest places in Lebanon which is visited by Muslims and Christians alike but it is the Lady of Lebanon which most come to see. The massive statue can be reached by the Harissa Cableway which carries people from the coastline and up 600 meters to the peak of the mountain where the statue has been erected. You can also see two churches on the site along with a cathedral which was a recent addition and a quaint little chapel right under the statue.
The mountain does not lose as much foliage regardless of the time of the year and is covered with pine trees that make it a great addition to the spectacular landscape of Lebanon. You can get to the statue through the cableway in no more than 9 minutes. It is over 1 mile long above the highway and the pine forests at an altitude of 650 meters. The trip offers amazing views of the mountain and the Bay of Jounieh but one ride can cost you upwards of $7. However, that is money well spent if you want a bird’s eye view of the mountain and an up-close look at the Lade of Lebanon.