It is located between 1200 and 1950 m above sea level at 57 km from Beirut. Maasser is a traditional, rural village with an old town square, an old mill, old oak and pine forests, and two natural water sources.
Perched high in the Shouf Mountain, the village of Maasser is known for its traditional, well-preserved rural character. UNESCO has recognized the village as having 0% pollution.
Come to Maasser el-Shouf and discover its secular Cedar Natural Reserve. Visit the 1,940-meter high mountain and breathe the beauty of the Cedars forest. From the summit of the mountains, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the countryside: eastward, the Beqaa Valley and Qaraoun Lake, and westward the Mediterranean Sea.
Maasser el-Shouf is a village in the province of Mount Lebanon. Home to the famous Cedars of Lebanon, it is presumed to have been continuously inhabited since the 5th century B.C.E.
Archaeological evidence, consisting of mainly of Roman burial sites and pottery, has allowed scholars to date the founding of this picturesque Lebanese village back to the year 450 B.C.E. Perhaps the most prominent of these archaeological remains is a distinctly Roman stone fortress, located in the "Hosn" area of the village.
Little is known about the period that followed the Romans. However, the village witnessed an agricultural boom during the 16th century when the great Prince Fakhereddine presided over the Shouf area.
Under Ottoman rule, Maasser el-Shouf was famous for its vineyards, used in wine and Arak distilleries, and mulberry orchards, which were essential to silkworm farming. Today, Maasser’s ancient traditions remain alive through its residents. Whether by savoring the fine artisanal wines of St. Michael’s Winery or the myriad mouth-watering, locally grown and prepared foods at the annual “Jabalna Festival,” a visit to Maasser el-Shouf is a wonderful journey through Lebanese heritage.
Attractions in Maaser Shouf:
1. MAASSER EL SHOUF CEDAR FOREST:
Nestled in the Shouf mountain range is one of the oldest and most historically significant arboreal patches of land in the world, the cedar forest. The Shouf’s cedar forest is home to the world's oldest cedar tree, estimated to be around 4,000 years old. Furthermore, there is some historical evidence suggesting that the great Phoenician King Aheram gifted the great King Solomon cedar wood for him to build his temple.
The Shouf Cedar forest once blanketed the entire Shouf mountain range. Today, only two small patches of trees remain standing. The Shouf Cedar Reserve team tends to the cedar forest, and, under their care, the forest has witnessed a reemergence of various plant and animal species long thought to have been
extinct in the region.
Operation Season: Year Round
Contact: Main Office – Park House
Email: [email protected]
Tel/Fax: 961 5 350350/ 150 - 961 3 513845
2. PARK HOUSE
The park house is the head office of the el-Shouf Cedar Natural Reserve. Thanks to AFD funds and the Maasser el-Shouf Municipality’s support, an old traditional house, a model of Levantine/Ottoman architecture, was restored with funding from the Italian Embassy/Italian Cooperation Office in Beirut, and in collaboration with the Directorate General of Antiquities through the use of recycled materials and renewable energy.
The Park House is, therefore, a symbol of local natural, cultural and social heritage, and the partnerships that make it possible to protect Lebanon's remaining green landscape.
Maasser el-Shouf, Village Square, facing the Public Garden.
3. St. Michael Church "MAR MIKHAEL"
Located in the center of the village, St. Michael's church is a century-old landmark built on top of the foundations of a much older church that has existed since the earliest spread of Christianity in the region.
The Archbishop Basilious Hajjar commissioned the construction of the church in 1895. St. Michael's church was completed in 1901 and has been standing ever since.
4. AUBERGE ST MICHAEL
Justice Boutros Noujaim, one of the sons of Maasser el-Shouf, oversaw the construction of St. Michael’s convent across from St. Michael’s church. After its completion in the 1960s, the “Salvatorienne” nuns presided over the convent and established it as one of the few educational institutions in the region at the time. Following the Lebanese civil war, and with the help of attorney Charles Noujaim and the committee members of St. Michael’s church, the convent was renovated.
Today, Auberge St. Michael remains a center of shared living, unity, and social and community service in Maasser.
5. Old Press “Al Maassarah “
In the 1930’s Maasser’s famous distillery first opened its doors. “Al-Maassara,” as it was called, provided wine, vinegar, olive oil, and molasses to many in the region. It ran until 1975. Today, it is a tourist attraction. We can admire the huge baked clay jars and the big mill stone.
St. Michael's Winery offers refined cellar wine. This quality wine is produced from a variety of grapes grown in the mountainous lands of Maasser el-Shouf and in the Bekaa Valley. The climate of Maasser is very suitable for vineyards.
Contact: Mr. Ghassan Noujeim
Tel/Fax: 961 3 288760
Email: [email protected]
As we stroll through the valley orchards, we fall upon a restored watermill. In the latter part of the 19th century (c. 1860), a stone watermill was built in Maasser’s “Marjeh” area. The mill provided the residents of Maasser, as well as those of neighboring villages, with wheat flour. The remnants of the mill–a testament to the magnificent stone masonry of the time–remain standing to this present day.