The coastal city of Batroun located in northern Lebanon is one of the oldest cities of the world.
It is said that two chains of caves were discovered along the path of Al Jawz River and it is believed that they were settlements of the early Man. One of the chains and the most famous exists at about a kilometer from the outlet of Al Jawz River. Plenty of axes, knives, drills, perforators in addition to a large set of granite pieces were retrieved from these caves which verifies the history of the early Man that dates back to thousands of years B.C. This issue has also been confirmed by the museum of granite and stony tools whose documents were lost as it was transferred to one of the French museums. Batroun was mentioned by the ancient geographers Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, Stephanus Byzantius, and Hierocles. Theophanes called the city "Bostrys."
The Phoenicians founded Batroun on the southern side of the promontory called in Antiquity, Theoprosopon and during the Byzantine Empire, Cape Lithoprosopon. Batroun is said to have been founded by Ithobaal I (Ethbaal), king of Tyre, whose daughter Jezabel (897-866 B.C.) married Ahab. The city belonged under Roman rule to Phoenicia Prima province, and later after the region was Christianized became a suffragan of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
In 551, Batroun was destroyed by an earthquake, which also caused mudslides and made the Cape Lithoprosopon crack.Historians believe that Batroun's large natural harbor was formed during the earthquake.
Three Greek Orthodox bishops are known to have come from Batroun: Porphyrius in 451, Elias about 512 and Stephen in 553 (Lequien, II, 827). According to a Greek Notitia episcopatuum, the Greek Orthodox See has existed in Batroun since the tenth century when the city was then called Petrounion. After the Muslim conquests of the region, the name was then changed an Arabic form known as Batroun.
One of Batroun's medieval archaeological sites is the Crusader citadel of Mousaylaha which is constructed on an isolated massive rock with steep sides protruding in the middle of a plain surrounded by mountains. It is believed that the castle dates back to the middle ages. It consists of two floors with an internal rectangular castle that can be reached by climbing few broken stairs.
The internal castle overlies a set of pillars and has a well dug in its floor connected to canals carved in the rocks. The central room has two doors; they lead to the western section and the eastern section which have a narrow sand stone staircase that leads to the multi- sectioned upper floor. The walls of this castle are thick and infiltrated with several scuttles used for security or for defense.
A good part of its ceiling and the observation tower are demolished. Under Ottoman rule, Batroun was the centre of a caza in the mutessariflik of Lebanon and the seat of a Maronite diocese, suffragan to the Maronite patriarchate. Since 1999 it has been the seat of the Maronite eparchy.
Of the ruins of Batroun is a small pond engraved in a beach rock in front of the Phoenician wall. It is named the Pond of the King's Daughter after a Phoenician princess that used to bathe there.
Batroun is a major tourist destination in North Lebanon. The town boasts tens of historic churches, both Catholic and Greek Orthodox.
The old streets have been recently renovated and the "Old Souk" is built out of Batrouni sandstone. Many old houses and sandy-vault buildings were rehabilitated into old style restaurants and unique styles of night clubs and pubs.
Visit St Georges' Church, the Prince's Seat Rock, and the Judge's well, the Marine wall, St Stephan's Cathedral, the Miraculous Sea Lady Church, the old marketplace, the Marketplace Lady's Church, the Roman Theater and the Phoenician castle.
The town is also a major beach resort with a vibrant nightlife. Citrus groves surround Batroun, and the town has been famous, from the early twentieth century, for its fresh lemonade, which is sold by all cafés and restaurants on its main street.