I visited the monastery of St Anthony in the beautiful Quadisha valley in Lebanon as part of a week’s holiday driving around Lebanon with a friend. The valley is a Unesco World Heritage site and is known for the rock-hewn monasteries and chapels along the sides, one of the largest being St Anthony’s which was founded in the 17th century for the Lebanese Maronite order.
You can visit the church that is built into the side of the rock face in the monastery courtyard, and there’s also a small museum below which holds artefacts from the monastery’s past. You should also look in at the small grotto in the cave before the church where you can see manacles which were used to secure the mentally ill who were left here overnight in the hope of a cure, and the metal pans left by those who came to ask for help in having children.
There is a guest house at the monastery where you may stay if you book in advance, but otherwise the small town of Ehden just up the valley is an ideal place to find budget accommodation. The Quadisha valley is a beautiful place to spend a couple of days walking, with a river rushing below the monastery and fruit trees on the valley sides. You can read more about St Anthony’s monastery at Qozhaya here.