Hamat – Sapphire and Cerulean Water
Perched atop the Theoprosopon cape, Hamat is known for its strange location and uncanny beauty that can be summarized by the contrast of blue, white and green; the deep blue sea, the white rocky cape and the green of the wild trees.
Combined, they create a surreal painting. The most strategic location to behold the majestic beauty of Hamat is definitely the Marian Orthodox monastery of Our Lady of Nourieh (Our Lady of light).
Our journey commenced with a big fat traditional breakfast and a long drive all the way towards the monastery. As you arrive, you will be stroke by the crystal water; the color is a mixture of sapphire and cerulean, this is the color of the water in the whole of the Batrouni coast.
Here is a brief history of the monastery from wikipedia:
"It is believed that two sailors built the shrine in the 4th century. One winter night, on a very stormy sea, the two sailors found themselves in peril. They began praying, and the Virgin appeared to them as a light and guided them gently to the shore of Theoprosopon near modern day Chekka in North Lebanon. The grateful sailors carved a cave in the cliff and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary, and called the shrine, Our Lady of Light. A Greek Orthodox monastery was built in the 17th century. The miraculous icon of the Theotokos has been venerated for centuries for having glowed with light to attract wayward ships."
The shrine is a popular Christian pilgrimage site in Lebanon, and tourists and pilgrims alike enjoy the beautiful view of the bay from atop historic Cape Theoprosopon.
To reach Hamat, you have to drive straight along the Northern highway. Once you go past the Msaylaha castle in Chekka, continue straight towards the Hamat exit, turn right and make a U-turn. The monastery is a 20 minutes drive from there. Had it not been to the locals, we wouldn’t have easily reached the monastery therefore, do ask them!
The road is more or less in a good condition, as a matter of fact, the big chunk of the drive is on the highway. Once in Hamat, the streets are okay and the trip doesn’t require any SUVs or 4×4 vehicles.
When you first exit the highway, you will drive on a small road that leads you upwards towards Hamat, the surprising thing about it is that your car will go up all by itself without you stepping on the gas pedal- as if gravity is absent in this particular spot.
Our journey in Hamat officially kicked off at the monastery. The view from there is breathtaking and you can feast your eyes on the scenery from various angles. At first, we walked straight towards the shrine to the left, once we laid our eyes on it, Santorini immediately came into the picture: a glossy white shrine that looks like a capilla and crystal blue water beneath.
The monastery rests atop a cape and as a consequence, getting closer to the sea is relatively easy because of the steep cliff. Thus, we decided to go down the 150 steps stairs and see where the road leads. As we started going down, we began to see the blue water through the green trees more and more: Old abandoned houses with windows through which you can contemplate the water and a small church carved in the mountain.
As you go down the stairs, you will realize that wherever you look you will see a picture perfect landscape: Whether seagulls hunting beneath you or fishermen sailing in their fishing boats or people walking down the coast etc. Hamat is simply astounding, not only due to the cape but also because of its splendid nature, gorgeous houses and small beach resorts.
- Check your car before going on a long road trip, being stuck somewhere remote is horrible.
- We recommend you have breakfast at furn Beaino in Jounieh and savor the most exquisite lahme b aajin in Lebanon.
- Going down the stairs might seem quite easy but the way back is kind of difficult so unless you can handle 150 stairs, don’t go down.
- Visiting Hamat for a swim is a must.