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This 18th century house is tucked in the heart of Bater, a quiet village in the southern part of Lebanon’s Chouf district preceding Jezzine. Shrouded by luscious, thousand years-old olive trees and overlooking foothills of pine and cedar, the one-story brick home is a triumphant ode to a rich past and a welcoming haven for guests seeking rest and mediation in nature’s folds.
In Arabic, the word “berkeh” means basin or pool. The 300 year-old home was built by Sheikh Said, a notable religious figure (Qadi Mazhab) who named the house after the hexagonal pool at its entrance whose basin is ever-full with fresh spring water. Villagers would regularly drop by to ask Sheikh Said for advice and the many conversations and consultations would happen around the “berkeh”. It reflects the traditional Lebanese architecture of the time, with arched windows that bathe in sunlight and a flat, brick roof. Three generations breathed life into Dar El Berkeh. Passed on from father to son, the portraits of family members decorate its walls.
Dar El Berkeh contains four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a spacious garden with a pool. The space gives guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves with nature, relax under the garden tent, meditate, and listen to the sound of birds chirping nearby. A delicious breakfast spread teeming with fresh, local eats will be prepared every morning and the garden will be attended to daily by Abou Fady, a close friend of the family.
Dar El Berkeh is owned by Nabil and Nana, who have been its keepers for the past 30 years. Each generation that occupied its walls adapted the space to their unique rhythm, yet all remained faithful to the home’s rich heritage over the years. Passed on to Nabil by his father, Abdel Beik, the family decided to open Dar El Berkeh’s warmth and generosity to guests from the four corners of the world. The couple’s love for nature, meditation, and history ensured the house remain a traditional escape that gives guests a taste of life in Bater 300 years ago.
— Photographs: Paul Gorra
Words: Reem Joudi