Bsharri (Arabic: بشرّيBšarrī; Syriac: ܒܫܪܝ; also Romanized Becharre, Bcharre, Bsharre, (Bcharre El Arez بشرّي الارز) is a town at an altitude of about 1,450 m (4,760 ft) to 3,088 m (10,131 ft). It is located in the Bsharri District of the North Governorate in Lebanon. Bsharri is the town of the only remaining and preserved original Cedars of God (Cedrus libani), and is the birthplace of the famous poet, painter and sculptor Khalil Gibran who now has a museum in the town to honour him. Moreover, Bsharri is home to the oldest skiing area, the Cedars Ski Resort, and to Lebanon’s first ski lift, built in 1953. The resort is about a two-hour drive and 130 km (81 mi) from Beirut. Qurnat as Sawdā Mountain in Bsharri is the highest peak in the Levant, at 3,088 meters above sea level.
The nearby site of the Holy Kadisha Valley shelters some of the most ancient Christian monastic communities of the Middle East. A true heritage of Maronite Christianity in the Middle East, the town has also the biggest cathedral in the region, the Saint Saba Cathedral, built by Anthony II Peter Arida. Bsharri is sometimes called “the city of churches” as it houses some 37 churches.
citation needed]Maronite Christians fleeing persecution sought refuge in its mountainous terrain in the 7th Century AD. The Kadisha Valley, below the town, became the spiritual center of the Maronite Church. The town was known as Buissera by the Crusades.[
In Lebanon, Bsharri natives are characterized as very courageous and tribal. They are known across the northern region for their hospitality and patriotism. They are especially known for their distinct accent when they speak Lebanese Arabic. Unlike other parts of Lebanon, Aramaic was spoken in Bsharri well into the 19th century. As a result, Bsharri natives developed an unmistakably strong accent which lasts to this day.
During the Lebanese civil war Many of its youth joined the Lebanese Phalanges at the start of the civil war. In 1986 Samir Geagea, a Bsharri native, became head of the Lebanese Forces (LF) militia (now a political party). Many LF militants were drawn from the town during the civil war.
Today, the town is located in a highly touristic zone including many attractions such as the Khalil Gibran Museum, the Kadisha Valley, the Kadisha Grotto, the Cedars of God forest and several ski resorts. Bsharri is home to a Lebanese Red Cross First Aid Center, also to “The Maronite Scouts” that started their activities in early 2000. On July 13, 2018, International Colombian singer of Lebanese heritage, Shakira, performed in Bsharri during the Cedars International Festival in the presence of 13,000 people. The visit was a part of her 2018 world tour, the El Dorado World Tour.
On March 22, 2019 The municipalities of Bsharri, Lebanon, and Val d’Isère, France inked an agreement to promote cultural exchange between the two towns. The cultural exchange program aims to build bridges for French and Lebanese youth that want to experience the unique cultural relationship and similarities the two countries possess. The mayor of Val d’Isère, Marc Bauer, led a French delegation to Lebanon to inaugurate a program aimed at promoting cultural and athletic exchange between the two famous ski locations.
Andrea Bocelli performed at the opening ceremony of The Cedars International Festival-Bsharri (CIF) in the presence of 8,000 people. Before the festival, Mr. Bocelli visited the Cedars of God Forest Bsharri where he was received by the head of the Lebanese Forces Party Dr Samir Geagea.
Bsharri natives are also known for their strong Christian faith. Throughout the year, many religious festivities and commemorations take place in the town attracting thousands from neighbouring villages.