The Garden Opening, Gebrayel
Located at an altitude of 600 meters and a distance of 25 km
from Beirut, the hill of Harissa hosts the statue of the
Virgin Mary known as the Lady of Lebanon, overlooking
Jounieh with a fantastic view over the bay. The statue was
erected on May 3, 1908 on a base-pedestal in spiral of a
hundred steps, in commemoration to the fiftieth anniversary
of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception,
proclaimed by Pie IX, December 8, 1854.
The site is a place of pilgrimage for Christians and
Adjacent to the statue stands the Basilica of Harissa, a
newly built cathedral.
A cable car connects the site to the coast, taking visitors
on a splendid nine-minutes ride to and from the site, where
they can also have a meal at the Lebanese Restaurant located
at the top of the ride.
The area around Harissa is home to some 20 churches and
monasteries. The oldest, Saint Anthony of Padua, was built
by the Franciscans. Harissa is also the seat of the Vatican
Embassy in Lebanon. Within walking distance is the Greek
Catholic Monastery of Saint Paul and the many-domed church
of Saint Paul begun in 1947. The golden walls inside the
church are covered with beautiful Byzantine-style wall
mosaics that represent Christ Pantocrater, the Virgin
wearing a medallion, the Communion of the Apostles, the
church fathers and scenes from the Bible.