The romance of wine and poetry is balanced by Zahlé's more
businesslike position as the administrative and commercial capital of the Beqaa
valley (42.27% of Lebanon's territory) as well as its rank as the country's
third largest city (population 150,000). Zahlé is also an agricultural town
which produces vegetables, fruit, grains and most importantly, grapes.
Tucked away from Lebanon's busy coastal centers, the people of Zahlé have
developed their own brand of individualism and way of doing things. Even their
spoken Arabic has a particular flair. The city's reputation for intellectual
vigor comes from a long line of writers, thinkers and poets who have contributed
to Lebanon's cultural and political scene.
You can see cave tombs in the cliffs of the Wadi el-Aarayesh,
while Byzantine, Roman and Canaanite sarcophagi and ancient pottery sherds have
been found in the hills around the city.