Rashaya, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
According to the famous
author Anis Freiha, Rashaya al Foukhar is composed of two different origins:
the first, Rashaya or rather Rashana, stems from the Aramaic or Syrian
(Suryaniyyah) language. It means the masters or lords who inhabited those
With time, the Arabs
started using the word Rashaya for it was easier to pronounce. As for the second
word, al Foukhar, it stems from the Arabic and means pottery, a traditional
handicraft in the village. However, due to war and economic difficulties, the
production decreased and nowadays, only 3 to 4 craftsmen still do pottery. It is
no secret that they lack funding and support to bring back this industry to its
according to writings by German orientalists in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century,
Rashaya was divided in two parts, the upper Rachaya, Rachaya al fawqa, and the
lower Rachaya, Rachaya al tahta (cf. map).
There is no particular
explanation to such a division, yet, according to the Prince Fakhr Ed Dine’s history reveal
that Hasbaya itself, currently the district center and at that time, the center
of governance for the Shehabi princes, used to be called Hasbaya al Fawqa in
reference to its closeness to Mount Hermon.
Therefore, it is
probable that the appellation of "fawqa" and "tahta" was generally applied to
neighboring towns of Hasbaya, including Rachaya al Foukhar.
This is where Lebanon's early
national leaders, including Bshara El-Khoury and Riad El-Solh, were held by
French mandate authorities during the 1943 rebellion that triggered Lebanon's
independence. Their prison was an eighteenth century citadel that can be visited
today. The Lebanese Army, which is now temporarily stationed at the castle,
will assign a guide to show you around the old vaulted chambers and the rooms
where the Lebanese patriots were held.
The town of Rashaya, in a remote corner of Lebanon, has been only lightly
touched by the modern building boom affecting most of the country. On its
cobbled main street, small shops sell old fashioned oil stoves, reflecting the
needs of this chilly mountain town where the giant Mount Hermon (snow-covered
six months of the year) looms overhead.
The town of Rashaya, in a remote
corner of Lebanon, has been only lightly touched by the modern building boom
affecting most of the country. On its cobbled main street; small shops sell old
fashioned oil stoves, reflecting the needs of this chilly mountain town where
the giant Mount Hermoun (snow-covered six months of the year) looms overhead.
This town is also known for its locally made gold and silver jewelry.
Information From the Ministry of