‘Telepherique’ is French for cable car, aerial tramway or gondola lift. In Japan, they call it ropeway. This form of transport is common in the Alpine regions of Europe where people regularly move from peak to peak. It’s scary if you’re riding a telepherique for the first time, but after a ride or two, you would wish there’s a gondola lift in every city you visit in the world.
If you decide to spend a holiday in Jounieh, Lebanon, you will not be disappointed since the city has its own system of aerial tramway. Jounieh’s telepherique was built in 1965 and through those years it only had two minor setbacks.
On March 2, 1989, a cabin was stuck for four hours over a busy highway and trapped several people inside. It was a scary ordeal but everyone was rescued and got out safely. The same thing happened on February 21, 2007 when two cabins were stuck at the same time. Rescue arrived after six hours and no one was hurt. These are minor incidents. No one has been hurt since the cable car began its operation more than three decades ago.
The most beautiful thing about gondola lifts is that you don’t only get to your destination very quickly but you also get to enjoy the view. Jounieh is a coastal city and it promises you spectacular sites that you can’t find elsewhere in the Middle East.
Jounieh is a tourist port city 16 kilometers to the north of Beirut. It is a romantic city, primarily for the crescent-shaped Bay of Jounieh, which is one of the most spectacular sites you will see on the telepherique. Along the bay are rows of shops, cafés, restaurants, and hotels. You begin your ride from the bay area and slowly you will see what else make Jounieh a truly special destination.
This ancient city is home to both historical landmarks and modern buildings. The Old Jounieh area is flanked by old concrete homes and stores. As you rise higher to a maximum altitude of 650 meters, you get to see Lebanon’s pine-clad hills, steep mountains and snow-capped peaks. Lebanon was once named the Switzerland of the Middle East and the reason for this becomes quite obvious on the aerial tram.
Others prefer to take the ride at night especially during the summer months. The view becomes even more magical as the night sparkles with bright lights from the city and the bay area. Jounieh is known to have the liveliest nightlife in this part of the world.
The thrilling ride ends on top of Harissa near the statue of Our Lady of Lebanon. After only nine minutes, you have covered a total distance of 1.5 kilometers. This is the most dramatic spot in Jounieh, as it is also highly revered. Faithful pilgrims and devotees come here throughout the year but especially on the first Sunday of May, which is the Day of Our Lady of Lebanon.
On top of Harissa, you can stay awhile to get a better view of the bay and the city below. The site truly makes a ride on the telepherique one of the most popular tourist activities in the city.