Mar 10, 2010

Yammouneh Village and Lake

Yammouneh Village and Lake

Yammouneh location in Lebanon is an interior valley located at 1600m elevation with highly specialized characteristics. The Yammouneh valley represents a geologic fracture between the two continents of Asia and Africa along the eastern Mediterranean. The fresh water at this elevation and location constitutes a special ecosystem for animals (fish, reptiles, birds), and plants (junipers, abies, cupressus and cedars).
golden fish, thought to be extinct in this habitat, was found recently in small ponds and in few numbers. Rehabilitation is badly needed for this unique species of fish and distinct habitat. The medicinal plants, numerous at such habitats, have very high potential and are important for future economic development.

Yammouneh is the site of an ancient sacred lake and Roman temple. The turnoff for Yammouneh, near the town Chlifa, takes you twenty-seven kilometers over rugged empty foothills; a good introduction to the beautiful, but remote Yammouneh valley.

A great water cavern west of the temple fills the lake each year, although at other times it may appear almost dry. Luxurious Roman villas used to occupy the area between the cavern and the temple and numerous altars, statues and other elements have been discovered nearby.

All that remains of the temple today is a retaining wall of limestone blocks which goes down to the lake level. Beneath are supposed to be subterranean chambers. Presumably dedicated to Venus-Astrate, legend has it that when Typhon made war against the heavens, it was at Yammouneh that Venus changed herself into a fish.

A two-kilometer walk from the lake toward Chlifa brings you to a Roman guard tower about ten meters square.
A Roman road built by the
Emperor Domitian goes from Yammouneh to the village of Aqoura high in Mount-Lebanon. The walk takes over six hours, but many parts of this ancient route have been obscured.

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