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The Towns of Zgharta and Ehden
Zgharta, or Zghorta is a city in North Lebanon, with an estimated population of around 50,000. It is the second biggest city in Northern Lebanon after Tripoli. It is bounded in the North and in the East by the Minieh-Danniyeh District, in the South by Bcharreh District and on the West by Koura and Tripoli Districts.
Zgharta is about 150 metres above sea level, and lies between the rivers of Jouit and Rashein. It is 29 kilometres from Ehden, 11 kilometres from the coastal city of Tripoli, 89 kilometres from the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, and 82 kilometres from the nearest Syrian city, Tartous.
Ehden is a mountainous town situated in the heart of the northern mountains of Lebanon and on the southwestern slopes of Mount Makmal in the Mount Lebanon Range. Its residents are the people of Zgharta, as it is within the Zgharta District. The mountain town is located 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) above sea level, and is approximately 29 kilometres from Zgharta, 110 kilometres from Beirut, and 39 kilometres from Tripoli.
Zgharta is closely related to the mountain town of Ehden, essentially sharing the same population. Each summer, most of the people in Zgharta move to spend their summer in Ehden; this is reversed in winter when Ehden is practically deserted. Zghartawis speak the Lebanese dialect with a distinctive accent, the original Syriac accent applied on Arabic language. Syriac was taught in local schools till the mid 1900s.
Zgharta has had two Presidents of Lebanon: Sleiman Frangieh (1910 – 1992) and René Moawad (1925-1989). Zgharta is the home to many past and present prominent politicians: Hamid Frangieh, Youssef Salim Karam, Semaan El Douaihy, Sleiman Frangieh, Jr, Nayla Moawad, Estephan El Douaihy, Salim Bey Karam, Tony Frangieh, Jawad Boulos, Michel Moawad and Youssef Bahha El Douaihy.
Ehden has also produced at least four patriarchs of the Maronite Church (Gregorios Of Ehden, David Of Ehden, Jeremiah of Amshit (1199-1230), Youhanna Makhlouf (1609-1633), George Omaira (1634-1644), Estephan El Douaihy (1670-1704)) and an Ottoman era nationalist leader Youssef Bey Karam, who led a rebellion against Turkish rule.
The Association of Zgharta (Youssef Bey Karam Batal Lebnan) Australia Inc’s mission and purpose is to document, promote, impart and educate to the Australian public as well as the new generations of descendants of the Zgharta and Ehden diaspora, the art, history, genetics, culture and philosophy of the villages of Zgharta and Ehden, North Lebanon, as well as the Country of Lebanon and the greater geographical area of ancient Phoenicia.
First established in May of 1962, The Association of Zgharta (Youssef Bey Karam Batal Lebnan) now resides in Parramatta, NSW, with a Museum at The Saydet Zgharta Community Precinct. The Association carries the name of Lebanon’s National Hero, Youssef Bey Karam, as a historical symbol which reflects and embodies the fitting characteristics of being a son or daughter of Zgharta: faith, intellect, knighthood, bravery, generosity and unity. The Association continues to grow, accentuating the historical and cultural Australian landscape.
Our Museum with permanent exhibitions, allow visitors to experience a greater understanding of our villages Zgharta and Ehden with its political, religious, philosophical and national heroes, both past and present. The Association of Zgharta (Youssef Bey Karam Batal Lebnan) Australia Inc holds events and exhibitions that provide further insight into the life in Zgharta and Ehden as a living tradition. These events also provide insight into the lives of those that have enriched our beloved Australia.
The Feast Day of Our Lady of Zgharta held in August is one of our greatest highlights. This event portrays the cultural integrity of traditional celebrations, shared with members of the Australian Public. Our Museum’s story begins in the 16th Century on the eve of 24 January 1515 when Ehdenian residents gave refuge to The Governor of Damascus and Sultan Salim’s minister. Sultan Salim’s emissary called upon Ehden’s Elder Sheikh Iskandar, rewarding them in January of 1517 for their generous hospitality with a parcel of land. This parcel of land was in a town, away from the mountains’ harsh winters, which became known as Zgharta. Our Museum tells the history of Zgharta and Ehden in Australia through its permanent exhibitions on display, original artefacts, photographs, objects, library and gallery.
Association & Executive Committee History
Culinary Tour Around Zgharta
With Special Thanks to Internationally Renowed Food Blogger Anthony Rahayel, and the team at NoGarlicNoOnions, the video to the left is a touristic culinary tour around the town of Zgharta, published in 2016.
We hope you’re hungry!
Culinary Tour Around Ehden
Internationally Renowed Food Blogger Anthony Rahayel, and the team at NoGarlicNoOnions, are back with a new video with a touristic culinary tour around our summer town of Ehden, published in 2019.