Aley

Aley

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Aley is a picturesque town in Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon , as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about , parallel to the...

. It is located 17 km uphill from Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, just south of the summer resort of Bhamdoun
Bhamdoun
Bhamdoun is a town in Lebanon from Beirut on the main road that leads to Damascus, lying at an altitude of above the Lamartine valley. Two separate villages compose the town, Bhamdoun-el-mhatta and Bhamdoun-el-day'aa...

 and north of the strategic town of Souk El Gharb
Souk El Gharb
Souk El Gharb is a village in the Mount Lebanon Governorate, Aley District, in the country of Lebanon. The name of the village translates to "Western Market."...

.

Demographics


The natives of Aley are predominantly Druze; however, there are Christian Melkite
Melkite
The term Melkite, also written Melchite, refers to various Byzantine Rite Christian churches and their members originating in the Middle East. The word comes from the Syriac word malkāyā , and the Arabic word Malakī...

, Orthodox, and Maronite populations. Many outsiders, especially from Arab countries of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, own homes in Aley where they spend their summers, escaping the heat and humidity in their own countries.

Etymology


The word "aley" derivatives from Aramaic, and means "high place," referring to the town's high altitude above sea level.

History


Aley gained prominence when the railroad that passed through it was built between 1892 and 1895. The railroad linked the Lebanese capital of Beirut to Damascus. The railroad provided the residents of Beirut easy means of transportation to the mountains, and this made Aley a popular destination to spend the summer months and enjoy its pleasant climate. The town was for a while the summer capital of the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 governors of Mount Lebanon. A Jewish community once frequented this multi-cultural town, and they maintained a synagogue http://www.flickr.com/photos/nat_muller/3869868389/in/photostream, but it has since been abandoned. In 2001, the municipality of Aley began renovating the town center, especially its historic souk, and the town quickly revived its role in Lebanon's tourism.

Tourism


Aley is a major tourist destination in Lebanon and the Middle East. Its location and climate made it a favorable venue for shopping and dining, especially for wealthy Arabs from Persian Gulf states. This resort town with its increasing number of tourists and visitors has become one of the most flourishing resort towns in Mount Lebanon, and thus has garnered its historical name as "The Bride of Summers". The "Souk Aley" is a relatively long boulevard lined with palm trees; there are numerous redroofed stone houses erected on the east side of the street while several street cafes, outdoor restaurants, and nightlife pubs occupy its western side. In addition to these, there are tens of antique shop
Antique shop
An antique shop is a retail store specializing in the selling of antiques. Antiques shops can be located either locally and with the advent of the Internet found online...

s and retail boutiques along the street, which forms the heart of Aley. Aley also hosts a well-known casino.

External links