Amioun Clock Tower
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|Governorate||North Lebanon Governorate|
|• Total||1,137 km2 (439 sq mi)|
|along the "Cedars' way"|
|Elevation||298-330 m (−785 ft)|
|Highest elevation||330 m (1,080 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||298 m (978 ft)|
|• Religion||99.5% Eastern Orthodox|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Dialing code||+961 6|
The town of Amioun derives its name from the Aramaic language, meaning "'am Yawan" "place of the Greeks", with a possible alternative root fortified town. Amioun is located on the top of an ancient hill dating back to before the 2nd millennium B.C., and the town was called "Amia" during this period. The word Amia was cited in the letters of Tell el Amarna, which were sent in the 14th century B.C. by local governors to their overlords, the pharaohs of Egypt. In his etymological study of the names of Lebanon’s towns and villages, historian Anis Freiha asserted that Amia is in turn derived from the Semitic word emun, meaning "invincible fort".
Amioun has a population of 10,658 most of whom live outside of Lebanon, mainly in Massachusetts in the United States and in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and visit Lebanon during the summer. Almost all the residents are followers of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. Amioun is the largest all Eastern Orthodox town in Lebanon and 4th in the whole Middle East after Mhardeh, Al-Suqaylabiyah and Kafr Buhum in Syria. The major political party in the town is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, second comes the Free Patriotic Movement and there are some people who support other political parties like the Marada Movement, the Lebanese Communist Party and the Lebanese Forces. The inhabitants of the city are of Phoenician, Byzantine Greek and Ghassanid descent.
Religion, education and health
Amioun has eleven Eastern Orthodox churches (St. George el Dahleez, St. John al Sheer, Al Sayydeh, St. Sergios, St. Barbara, St. Domitios, St. Marina, St. Phocas, St. Simon, St. George Al-Kafer and St. Gala). There are three public and two private schools. The University of Balamand is located nearby, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north. There is a public library and a private hospital.
Located in the heart of Northern Lebanon, Amioun is the administrative center of Koura District. Amioun is about 330 meters (1083 feet) above sea level and approximately 78 kilometers away (48.5 miles) north-northeast of Beirut. It is about 42 kilometers (26 miles) away from the Cedars of God and 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from Tripoli, capital of the North Governorate.
Situated between the sea and the mountains, on a chain of beautiful hills that stretch from east to west, Amioun has a distinctive location and a scenic view. Surrounding the hills on which Amioun is situated are olive fields in the north and vineyards, almond orchards, and olive trees in the south. Paved roads, including the Beirut-Cedars main highway, run through those hills. Long ago, when the houses that stretched on those hills were few, Amioun was called “the town of beautiful hills”. Amioun can be reached via the highway that passes through Byblos, Batroun, Chekka, and Kfarhazir. It can also be reached from Tripoli by way of Bohssas, Dahr-al-Ain, Aaba, and Bishmizzine.
Amioun is also known for its olive trees and high grade olive oil.
Amioun is a very old settlement whose history can be traced back to the Paleolithic period. This is supported by the number of small caves built in the old city's rocks. In the past years, a number of French and German orientalists – foremost of whom was the Frenchman Ernest Renan – visited it, studied its archaeological sites and wrote about them. The ancient Semitic peoples are thought to have arrived in the region around 4000 B.C.
In his book “The Monuments of Lebanon”, Father Lamens mentions a number of towns, one of which is “Amia” (p. 76). If this connection is correct, Amioun may be considered as the oldest town in the interior of Lebanon.
Amioun’s past has left its mark on different historical periods, whether ancient, medieval, or modern. Some of its monuments can be traced back to a period when different pagan religions prevailed. With the advent of Christianity, the pagan temples in Amioun were eventually transformed into churches.
- Saint George Cathedral: erected over a former temple at the highest populated spot of the town, as mentioned in a circular written by an instructor of history in the official Lebanese schools Choukrallah Al-Nabbout. (Fig. 1)
- Saint John "al-sheer" church: Elevated on a rocky cliff over a number of vaults in the southeastern facade of the cliff. A Triple scene of a Crusaders church (1099–1100) panoramic over the 28 man-made crypts in the facade whose carbon-dating suggests 15,000–24,000 years of age.
- The town of Amioun, is known being a site for the Battle of Amioun in 694 A.D. between the Byzantine troops, under the leadership of Murik and Murikian, and some followers of the Monothelite doctrine, as mentioned in the article below by Chedid Al-Azar.
During the 20th century, major changes touched local population, which was based on agriculture, mainly olive, olive oil and soap production, and modify it into the highest educated society in Lebanon. This resulted in a huge percentage, almost 30%, of highly educated people, mainly in the medical domain. Now hundreds of physicians display vital positions in the motherland and abroad.
The modern town of Amioun lies on an important archaeological tell. Of major interest are the churches of Mar Jurius (St. George), built on the cellar of a Roman temple, and Mar Fauqa, or St. Phocas, built by local architects during the Crusader period. The entire interior of St. Phocas is covered with Byzantine-style wall paintings of the 12th and 13th centuries. A third church is the modern red-roofed Mar Youhanna (St. John) perched on a rocky cliff with tomb openings on its southeastern facade. Near the old town government building, or "Serail," is the Chapel of Marina, an ancient burial vault converted into a chapel.
- Abi Chahine (Abou Chahine)
- Abi Saleh (Abou Saleh)
- Abi Rustom (Abou Roustom)
- Abdo (Abdu)
- Aboud (Abud)
- Al Azar (El Azar)
- Atiyeh (Atieh - Atiah)
- Badawi (Badwi)
- Bou Khiyar
- Borgi (Bourgi)
- Chammas (Shammas)
- Dib (Deeb)
- El Assaad
- Haidar (Haydar)
- Hajj Obeid
- Kakos (Al Roumi)
- Mansour (Mansur)
- Meani (Maani)
- Meckdad (Mokdad)
- Naser (Nasr)
- Ojaimi (Ojaimy)
- Ramadi (Ramady)
- Saade (Saadeh)
- Saghir (El Saghir)
- Salem (Slim)
- Saifan (Saiifan)
- Smaili (Smayli)
- Zaidan (Zidan/Zidane)
Churches and monasteries
There are 13 places of Christian worship in Amioun, including churches and monasteries and shrines.
- Cathedral of Saint George el Dahleez (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint John al Sheer (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Al Sayydeh (Our Lady) (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Sergios (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Barbara (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Domitios (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Margaret of Antioch|Saint Marina (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Phocas (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Saint Gala (Our Lady) (Greek Orthodox)
- Church of Simon the Zealot|Saint Simon (Greek Orthodox)
- Monastery of Saint George Al-Kafer (Greek Orthodox)
Shrines Cave of Saint Marina (Greek Orthodox) Sacred place of Saint George(Demolished Church) (Greek Orthodox)
Twin towns and sister cities
Amioun is twinned with:
|1. Aaba||2. Afsdik||3. Ain Akrine||4. Ali-al-Mouran|
|5. Amioun||6. Anfeh||7. Badebhoun||8. Barghoun|
|9. Barsa||10. Bdebba||11. Batroumine||12. Bishmizzine|
|13. Bhabouch||14. Bishriyata||15. Bkomra||16. Bneyel|
|17. Bohssas||18. Btourram||19. Btouratige||20. Bkeftine|
|21. Bnehran||22. Bsarma||23. Btaaboura||24. Bziza|
|25. Charlita||26. Chira||27. Dahr-al-Ain||28. Darbechtar|
|29. Darchmezzine||30. Deddeh||31. Fih||32. Ijdebrine|
|33. Kaftoun||34. Kifraya||35. Kelbata||36. Kelhat|
|37. Kfaraakka||38. Kfarhata||39. Kfarhazir||40. Kaferkahel|
|41. Kfarsaroun||42. Kousba||43. Maziriit Toula||44. Mitrit|
|45. Mijdel||46. Nakhleh||47. Rachedbine||48. Ras Maska|
|49. Ras Osta||50. Wata Fares||51. Zakroun||52. Zakzouk|
- http://www.amioun.org/ Official site
Additional geographical information:
- List of cities in Lebanon
- Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Lebanon
- Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
- University of Balamand