Located at an altitude of 600 meters and a distance of 25 km from Beirut, the hill of Harissa hosts the statue of the Virgin Mary known as the Lady of Lebanon, overlooking Jounieh with a fantastic view over the bay.
The statue was erected on May 3, 1908 on a base-pedestal in spiral of a hundred steps, in commemoration to the fiftieth anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pie IX, December 8, 1854.
The site is a place of pilgrimage for Christians and non-Christians alike. Adjacent to the statue stands the Basilica of Harissa, a newly built cathedral.
A cable car connects the site to the coast, taking visitors on a splendid nine-minutes ride to and from the site, where they can also have a meal at the Lebanese Restaurant located at the top of the ride.
The area around Harissa is home to some 20 churches and monasteries. The oldest, Saint Anthony of Padua, was built by the Franciscans. Harissa is also the seat of the Vatican Embassy in Lebanon. Within walking distance is the Greek Catholic Monastery of Saint Paul and the many-domed church of Saint Paul begun in 1947.
The golden walls inside the church are covered with beautiful Byzantine-style wall mosaics that represent Christ Pantocrater, the Virgin wearing a medallion, the Communion of the Apostles, the church fathers and scenes from the Bible.