Prized in biblical times, the cedars of Lebanon are the remnants of an ancient forest. The Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab), a cluster close to northern Lebanon’s Qadisha Valley, is recognized with UNESCO World Heritage status. These majestic trees, a distinct species known as cedrus Libani, can live more than 1,000 years and grow to 130 feet (40 meters) tall.
Visit the Forest of the Cedars of God on a day trip from Beirut or base out of the pretty village of Bcharré in the Qadisha Valley. Entrance to the site is by donation, and a network of shady paths winds its way among the trees. Day trips typically combine a visit to the cedars with a tour of Bcharré village and one or more of the ancient Qadisha Valley monasteries, such as Deir Qozhaya (St. Anthony’s Monastery).
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Cedars of God are worth a visit for nature lovers and the religiously minded.
- There are other cedar stands elsewhere in Lebanon, but the Forest of the Cedars of God is the only grove with a UNESCO listing.
- The Cedars of God are not wheelchair-accessible.
The Cedars of God are in northern Lebanon, about 4 miles (7 kilometers) from Bcharré or 72 miles (115 kilometers) from Beirut. Regular minibuses link Bcharré with Beirut’s Dawra terminal (excluding Sundays), but there’s no public transport beyond Bcharré. Lebanese driving can make mountain roads a terrifying experience, so most travelers opt for the safety and convenience of an organized tour.
When to Get There
The Forest of the Cedars of God opens from morning to early evening, Tuesday through Sunday. The forest is rarely crowded, but it’s worth visiting midweek (Tuesday to Friday) for more of a sense of solitude. In spring (April and May), wildflowers bring the forest to life, but the ancient evergreen trees are also atmospheric in the winter snow.The Cedars of Lebanon in the Bible
Hard, fine-grained, and insect-resistant, cedar wood was one of the most prized building materials of ancient times. The cedars of Lebanon are mentioned 103 times in the Bible, and it was Lebanese cedar that the biblical King Solomon is believed to have used to build the First Temple in Jerusalem.