ένα μη κερδοσκοπικό και μη εμπορικό πολιτιστικό ιστολόγιο - a non profit and a non commercialized cultural blog

Παρασκευή, 18 Μαΐου 2007

HAMATOURA MONASTERY IN LEBANON -ΤΟ ΜΟΝΑΣΤΗΡΙ ΤΗΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣ ΣΤΟ ΟΡΟΣ ΧΑΜΑΡΟΥΡΑ ΣΤΟ ΛΙΒΑΝΟ

If you are one of those people who are seeking to find a very reclusive religious place to get away from everything and everybody,to let your mind clear out,and live for some time among the monks,then you cannot find any place more remote than the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Theotokos of Hamatoura in Lebanon. The monastery is build on the top of the spectacular Kadesha Gorge with a river running through it,and there is no other way to reach there other than climbing on foot, which will take you around 45-50 minutes to reach to the top. The foot path leading to the monastery is long and steep, with plenty of switchbacks. By the time you get to the monastery, you will be exhausted, and your face will be red and your heart will be beating faster than a rabbit's. However all this effort you have put in getting to the top of this gorge will be soon proved to be more than rewarding. For one thing, you are one of the lucky few that ever makes it to this beautiful and peaceful place. Even Lebanese outside the area do not know of it's existence.The monks will run to welcome you and give you their hospitality-feed you and give you a room to stay if you are traveling there to stay for some time. The original monastery is build in a huge cave which has been divided up into different spaces- The chapel, the dinning room, and sleeping rooms. Recently new buildings have been added outside the cave overlooking the chaos down the gorge which ends up at the river down below. Staying in a cave room with a window facing the unbelievable art of nature is something you will never forget.
During the Ottoman period, the Turks ascended the mountain and killed all the monks with the exception of one who fled and told the story later. Since that time the monastery was left to ruins and with father Pandeleimon and his dedicated monks it has once again become a center of the Orthodox faith in Lebanon. On Sundays you will see hundreds of local people walking up the steep path to attend the liturgy and aftwrwards they will go down near the river, spread big rugs on the ground and have launch while others play the Oud and the Tabla. Everyone is one big family and the sight will bring you back images of early Christians eating together out in the open, the way we have seen them on religious films.
Another unforgettable experience is attending the all night mass in the small chapel, and listening to the monks chatting the ancient Byzantine liturgies, with no light except that of candles. It's a feeling which takes you back into time while you are still in the present and you become one with infinity loosing the feeling of history and time and place.
For those who are looking for this very special place to go to spend Christmas or Easter in its original meaning, away from all the commercialism and secularism, this is truly a most perfect place. After you stay there for a few days, you will feel revitalized, realizing that most of the problems we have in life occur because we have let ourselves fall victims of materialism, and we keep buying and buying and paying debts and not take any time to take a breath and ask ourselves why we make so many problems for us when our life could be much more simple and stress-free, if we just give up some of the things that we really don't need such as buying a new mobile every month for instance.

NOCTOC

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