History of Qrayeh

Name

The name “Qrayeh” has probably a Syriac origin, and according to the “Dictionary of Names of Towns and Villages in Lebanon” by AnisFreiha, it is an alteration of “Qoryat” or “Qiryat” when it is followed by another name, otherwise, it derives from “Qrito” which means the village or the town. (AnisFreiha, Dictionary of Names of Towns and Villages in Lebanon, Librairie du Liban, Beirut, Fourth Edition, 1996).
There are three towns which bear the same name: the first in South Lebanon, district of Tyre; the second in North Lebanon, district of Batroun; and the third in Mount Lebanon, district of Baabda.

The Town’s History

The village was once a farm owned by Sheikh Nassif Abu Chakra from the village of Aamatour in Shouf; in the sixteenth century, it turned into a town after it was owned by a lot of farmers. while in ancient times, the town dates back to the era of the Phoenician era, as thestretching of the Kingdom of Saidareached the villages to its east, including Qrayeh which was most often used as cemeteries for royal families in the Kingdom of Saida, and this is evidencedby the numerous caves located along the town, including the largest "cave - burial" in the East, a cave named "Al-Zankaliya" which is used nowadays as a shrine to the Virgin Mary. During the Ottoman reign in the East which lasted about four hundred years, Qrayeh was geographically considered as part of the state of Saida. During the outbreak of World War I when Turkey alliedwith theCentral Powers in 1914, the governor appointed Jamal Pasha Commander in Chief of the army in Syria and granted him absolute powers to defend its territories and retrieve it. Jamal Pasha made several decisions that influenced the entire region: he adopted the strategy of forced conscription and accordingly 500 young people were recruited from Qrayeh to fight with Turkey in the war, and only a few of them survived. Also, many people immigrated to Egypt where the Ottoman Empire had no authority. Today many of the displaced families from Qrayeh still live in Egypt, including the families of Nassif,Hleihel and others.