Harissa is an important Lebanese pilgrimage site high above Jounieh, located at 650 meters altitude from the coast and 20 km distance from Beirut the capital city of Lebanon. We went up the hill by aerial lift — “Téléférique”. There’s a lovely view of Jounieh Bay as we go up the gondola.
It attracts both pilgrims and tourists. The views of Jounieh and the Mediterranean Sea are wonderful from the top of this hill. The main site is a huge 15-ton bronze and painted white statue of Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon or Notre Dame du Liban, with her arms outstretched. The 8 meters and a half long statue was made in Lyon.
The statue was made at the end of the 19th century and inaugurated in 1908. Inside the statue’s base there is a small chapel.
There are a lot of beautiful Lebanese cedar trees around the place, which is also the symbol of Lebanon. Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus Libani) is a species of cedar native to the mountains of the Mediterranean region. These trees grow in Lebanon, Israel, northwest Jordan, western Syria, and south central Turkey.
Cedrus libani is an evergreen coniferous tree growing up to 40 m (130 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in diameter. The crown is conic when young, becoming broadly tabular with age with fairly level branches.
The Cedar of Lebanon was important to various ancient civilizations. The trees were used by the Phoenicians for building commercial and military ships, as well as houses, palaces, and temples. The ancient Egyptians used its resin in mummification, and its sawdust has been found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh designates the cedar groves of Lebanon as the dwelling of the gods to which Gilgamesh, the hero, ventured.
Hebrew priests were ordered by Moses to use the bark of the Lebanon Cedar in circumcision and the treatment of leprosy. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah used the Lebanon Cedar as a metaphor for the pride of the world. Because of its significance the word Cedar is mentioned 75 times (Cedar 51 times, Cedars 24 times) in the Bible. It was also used by Romans, Greeks, Persians, Assyrians and Babylonians.