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In northern Lebanon, on the foothills of Mount al-Makmel, the Quadisha valley and the Forest of the Cedars of God have been, for centuries, places of refuge for those in search of protection or solitude. Although there is evidence of inhabitation as far back as Palaeolithic times, the site is most famously known for being the place of refuge of early Christian communities who, fleeing prosecution, sought refuge there during the first spread of Christianism. The valley was also used by Jacobites (Syrian Orthodox), Melchites (Greek Orthodox), Armenians, Muslim mystics, and Sufis.

The Quadisha valley is composed of rocky cliffs with many natural caves, some of which are almost inaccessible. These rather uncomfortable, scattered and isolated caves met perfectly the needs of the simple austere life sought by some early Christians. Some of the inhabited caves were so small as to only be capable of fitting one person, hence providing a form of natural monks’ cell. The monks and hermits of the region decorated some of the caves with frescoes and facades and constructed terraces for the growing of grain, grapes, or olives; some of which remain in use to this day. Ouadi Quadisha has a series of monastic complexes, most famously those of St Anthony of Quzhayya, Our Lady of Hauqqa, the Qannubin Monastery or the Monastery of Mar Lichaa.

Today, the Ouadi Quadisha site is in danger due to encroachment of modern settlements, illegal building, and an inconsistent conservation policy.

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