Episode 28 – Moussa Castle

When Moussa Abdel Karim Al Maamari was a young boy he had a crush on a girl. She said she was not interested in him because he was poor and she was rich and lived in castle. So, Moussa began daydreaming of building a castle. One day, while in school, Moussa’s teacher got irate at him for not following class instructions and drawing a castle instead. The instructor chastised him and tore the drawing. After those two events, Moussa resolved to build a castle and spent 60 years making his dream become reality.

Lebanese Arabic Transcript and English Contextual Translation

1

مرحبا، أنا دارين. بحلقة اليوم، رح نزور قلعة استثنائية بجبل لبنان، اسما قلعة موسى. وهالقلعة مش بس مميزة بشكلا الهندسي اللافت، ومحتواها الجديد، بس كمان وراها قصة تحدي وكفاح ونجاح، على مدارستين سنة من حياة الشخص اللي بناها.

Hello, I am Darine. In today’s episode, we will visit an exceptional castle in Mount Lebanon called Moussa Castle. This castle is not only distinguished for its remarkable architectural shape and new content, but there is also a story of challenge, struggle, and success behind it, over the course of 60 years of the life of the person who built it.

2

بتوقع قلعة موسى بين منطقة دير القمر وبيت الدين، بقلب جبل الشوف بلبنان.

سميت بقلعة موسى أو قصر موسى نسبة للسيد “موسى عبد الكريم المعماري”، اللي قام ببناء هالقلعة لوحدو، بعد قصة مؤثرة رح احكيلكن ياها.

Moussa Castle is located between Deir al-Qamar area and Beit el-Din in the heart of Al-Chouf Mountain in Lebanon.

It was named Moussa Fortress or Moussa Castle after “Mr. Moussa Abdul Karim Al-Me‘mari” who built this castle alone following a touching story which I will tell you.

3

ولأنو الأماكن الأثرية المميزة وراها حكايا حقيقية، كمان قلعة موسى عندا حكاية حلوة ومعبرة. وهالحكاية مرتبطة بباني القلعة السيد موسى، اللي خلق سنة 1931.

 وبقي على مدار هال60 سنة يبني بهالقلعة لتوصل لشكلا الحالي.

And because special archaeological sites have real tales behind them, the Moussa Castle also has a beautiful and expressive tale. This tale is linked to the builder of this castle, Mr. Moussa, who was born in the year 1931.

He kept building this castle over the course of these 60 years until it reached its current shape.

4

وحسب الحكاية، فموسى عشق إيام المدرسة بنت اسما “سيدة”. وكان عمرو بوقتا 14 سنة. ولما اعترفلا بحبو، ضحكت سيدة عليه وقالتلو: “ما تحكي معي أبداً ولا تمشي حدي. أنا بيي عندو قصر وإنت صبي فقير.”

According to the tale, Moussa fell in love, during school days, with a girl named “Saideh”. He was 14 years old back then. And when he confessed his love to her, Saideh laughed at him and said to him, “do not ever talk to me and do not walk near me. My father has a castle, and you are a poor boy.”

5

هالكلام القاسي ترك وجع بقلب موسى، ومن هاللحظة صارعندو حلم إنو يعمر قصر كبير، أحلى من كل القصور الموجودة بمنطقتو. وصار موسى يقضي وقتو بالصف عم يخطط ويرسم قلعة أحلامو. ومن هون زاد عندو اهتمام كبير بفن العمارة والبناء.

These harsh words left soreness in Moussa’s heart, and from that moment on, he had a dream to build a big castle that is more beautiful than all the castles in his area.

Moussa started to spend his time in class planning and drawing the castle of his dreams. And from here, he developed a big interest in the art of architecture and construction.

6

ومرة من المرات بالصف، طلب منو الإستاذ إنو يرسم شجرة وعصفور. فقام موسى ورسم القلعة اللي بخيالو. زعل كتير الإستاذ، وصرخ على موسى وضربو بقضيب الرمان. ومسك الرسم وخزقو قدام الصف كلو.

One time in class, the teacher asked him to draw a tree and a bird. So Moussa got up and drew the castle which is in his imagination. The teacher was very upset. He yelled at Moussa and hit him with a pomegranate stick. He also held the drawing and tore it in front of the entire class.

7

هالحدث المؤلم وجع موسى كتير. وعملو إحراج كبير قدام رفاقو بالصف، وتحديداً قدام “سيدة”، البنت اللي بحبا. فلملم الرسمة المخزقة، واتطلع بإستاذو وقللو: “رح تشوف. هالقلعة رح تصير حقيقية بيوم من الإيام.” وترك موسى المدرسة للأبد. وراح يحقق حلمو ببناء القلعة.

This painful event hurt Moussa a lot, and it caused him great embarrassment in front of his classmates, specifically in front of “Saideh”; the girl he loves.

He picked up the torn drawing, looked at his teacher, and said to him: “You will see. This castle will become real one day.” Moussa left school forever and went on to fulfill his dream of building the castle.

8

وكان عمو لموسى ساكن بمدينة صيدا بجنوب لبنان. واسمو عيسى المعماري. وكان عيسى يشتغل بترميم القلاع والقصور القديمة. فقرر موسى يشتغل مع عمو بترميم قلعة صيدا البحرية، بدون ما يعرفو عائلتو إنو ترك المدرسة سنة 1945.

Moussa’s uncle was living in Saida (Sidon) city in South Lebanon, and his name was Issa Al-Me‘mari. Issa used to work in the restoration of old fortresses and castles. So Moussa decided to work with his uncle in the restoration of a Sidon sea castle without letting his family know that he left school in the year 1945.

9

واستمر موسى بالشغل مع عمو لمدة أربع سنين. واكتسب خبرة كبيرة بترميم الأماكن الأثرية، وصار مشهور.

وكلفو أحد الأمراء بترميم قصر بيت الدين، والمتحف الوطني اللبناني. ومن هون انطلق موسى المعماري بموهبتو بالترميم وتجديد كل ما هو تراثي وقديم. وصار يجمع مصاري ليقدر يشتري قطعة أرض، ويبني عليا قلعة أحلامو.

Moussa continued to work with his uncle for four years. He gained significant experience in the restoration of archaeological sites, and he became famous.

One of the princes commissioned him to restore the Beiteddine Palace and the Lebanese National Museum. From here, Moussa set out with his talent in restoring and renovating all what is hereditary and old, and he started collecting money to be able to buy a piece of land and to build on it the castle of his dreams.

10

ولما بيحكي موسى عن هالمرحلة، دايما بيقول إنو إصرارو على تحقيق حلمو، كان بسبب رضا إمو عليه، واللي كانت دايما تصلي وتدعيلو وتقول: “يا رب خللي التراب بين إيدين موسى يقلب ذهب”.وفعلاً هالدعوة، بنظر موسى، خلتو ينجح ببناء قلعة أحلامو بدءاً من سنة 1963 هو وزوجتو ماري .

When Moussa speaks about this phase, he always says that his determination to fulfill his dream was because his mother was pleased with him and have always prayed for him and said, “Oh God, make the soil between Moussa’s hands turn to gold.”

And indeed, this prayer, according to Moussa, made him succeed in building the castle of his dreams starting the year 1963 along with his wife Mary.

11

وقلعة موسى مكونة من 6540 حجر ضخم، ومبنية على مساحة 3500 متر مربع. وكل حجر من هالأحجار الكبيرة، نحتا موسى بإيديه ولوحدو. وعلين رسومات وأشكال مختلفة، لأشياء تراثية وحيوانات ورموز وحروف قديمة. وهالشي زاد هالقلعة تميز وجمال، وخلا كل السواح يقصدوا على مدار السنة.

The Moussa Castle is made up of 6,540 huge stones and is built over an area of 3,500 square meters. Moussa carved each of these big stones with his own hands and all by himself.

They have different drawings and shapes of heritage objects, animals, symbols, and ancient letters. This has increased the castle’s distinction and beauty and made tourists come to it all the year round.

12

وهالقلعة، متل ما سبق وذكرت، بقي موسى المعماري كل حياتو يبنيا، ويطور فيا ويحسن. واحتاج 60 سنة  ليخلصا. ولازم نذكر إنو كتار من رجال السياسة والأغنياء ساعدو موسى بالمصاري، لأنن آمنو بحلمو وبقدرتو على العمارة حتى لو ما كان دارسا.

And this castle, as I have mentioned before, Moussa Al-Me‘mari kept building developing, and improving it all of his life. It took him 60 years to finish it. We should also note that many politicians and rich people helped Moussa with the money because they believed in his dream and his ability in architecture even though he had not studied it.

13

و تميزت بموقعا الحلو على الطريق العام، وأبراجها العالية، وطبقاتا الثلاثة. وبعد ما انتهى من بنائها من الخارج، ابتدى يعمرغرفا من الداخل. وكانت كل غرفة مليئة بالمجسمات المتحركة على الكهربا. هالمجسمات هي لأشخاص وحيوانات، بتجسد حياة القرية اللبنانية. وكل غرفة مختلفة عن التانية، وبتحكي حكاية ما بتشبه اللي قبلا.

It was distinguished for its beautiful location on the highway, its high towers, and its three floors. And after he finished constructing it from outside, he started building its rooms from the inside. Each room was full of statues that move via electricity. These statues are for people and animals depicting the Lebanese village life. Each room was different from the other and tells a tale that is not similar to the one before.

14

ومش بس هيك، قرر موسى المعماري إنو يضم مجموعة من الأسلحة القديمة القليلة الوجود، وصار عددن أكتر من 16 ألف قطعة سلاح. وأطلق على هالجزء من القلعة، اسم “المتحف الحربي والتراثي”. وتعد هالمجموعة من الأسلحة من أكبر المجموعات قيمة وأهمية بمنطقة الشرق الأوسط.

Not only this, but Moussa also decided to include a collection of old weapons that little exist, and their number have become more than 16 thousand piece of weapons. He gave this part of the castle the name of “The War and Heritage Museum.” This collection of weapons is considered one of the biggest collections of value and importance in the Middle East region.

15

متل ما كانت هالقلعة حلم شخصي، صارت نموذج بجسد الحياة اللبنانية بين القرنين الـ 19 والـ 20. وبتضم هالقلعة أكتر من 30 غرفة، فيا حوالي 160 تمثال متحرك بيجسدو الحياة الاجتماعية والمهن البسيطة بالقرية اللبنانية.

As this castle was a personal dream, it became a model that embodies Lebanese life between the 19th and 20th centuries. This castle includes more than 30 rooms that have around 160 moving statues that embody the social life and simple professions in the Lebanese village.

16

بتفوت على القلعة عبر جسر خشبي معلق بالهوا، منقوش عليه عبارة “دخلناها شبابا وخرجنا شيبا”. كدليل للوقت الطويل اللي أخذتو بناء هالقلعة. الصالة الكبيرة تعتبر متل متحف، بينعرض فيه كل الحرف اليدوية القديمة متل الحداد والنجار والصياد والفلاح.

You enter the castle through a wooden bridge hanging in the air, over which this phrase is engraved “We entered it young and we got out old” as a proof of the long time it took to build this castle. The big hall is considered like a museum where all the old handicrafts are displayed, such as the blacksmith, the carpenter, the fisherman, and the farmer.

17

وكمان مجموعة من مجسمات السيدات اللي بيشتغلو بالأعمال المنزلية، وبفرجونا كيف المرأة بالريف اللبناني كانت تعيش.

And also a group of statues of women who work in household chores, and they show us how the woman in the Lebanese countryside used to live.

18

وبتلاقي كمان راعي الغنم، وعازفين على آلات موسيقية قديمة متل الدف والربابة والعود.

And you also find a shepherd and musicians on old musical instruments such as Tambourine, Rababah, and Oud.

19

وخلال تنقلاتك بممرات القلعة، بتشوف مجسمات رائعة لرجال دين ورجال سياسة وفنانين لبنانيين تركو آثار كتير مهمة بتاريخ لبنان.

And while you move around in the castle’s passages, you see amazing statues of Lebanese clerics, politicians, and artists who have left many important traces in Lebanon’s history.

20

وبآخر ممرات القلعة، بيستعرض موسى قطع من المعادن والأحجار الكريمة، وكتب تحت منن عبارة : “علمتني الحياة أن العالم لن يتوقف عن الاستمرار بعد موتي، والأرض لن تحجم عن دورانها، والشمس لن تكف عن شروقها وغروبها”.

In the final passages of the castle, Moussa displays pieces of metal and precious stones, and he wrote below them the phrase: “Life taught me that the world will not stop continuing after my death, the earth will not refrain from its rotation, and the sun will not stop its rising and setting.”

21

قدام القلعة أنشأ موسى برك مائية، وساحات حواليا مقاعد متعددة الأشكال، وإلى جانبن قلعة تانية صغيرة للمناسبات الخاصة .

In front of the castle, Moussa created water ponds, yards around which there are benches of various shapes, and next to them another small castle for private occasions.

22

وطبعا ما بيكتمل المشهد القروي، بدون حصان وحمار وعربة خيل بالساحة الخارجية للقلعة، اللي تعتبر نموذج مصغر عن حياة الضيعة اللبنانية.

Of course, the village scene would not be complete without a horse, a donkey, and a horse cart in the outside yard of the castle, which is considered a mini model of the Lebanese village life.

23

وأكتر شي ممكن يلفت نظركن، هو مدى الدقة اللي صممت ونفذت فيه هالمجسمات البشرية المتحركة، واللي بترتدي ملابس حقيقية اشتراها موسى من أصحابا الحقيقيين، وبتجسد الموضة بوقتا.

The most striking thing that can catch your eye is the extent to which the design edited and executed of these moving human figures, which are wearing real clothes that Moses bought from their real owners and embodies the fashion that existed at the time.

24

ولإنو الإهانة اللي حصلت لموسى إيام المدرسة كانت قاسية وصعبة تتنسى بسهولة، قام موسى بتجسيد التلاميذ بالصف بإحدى الغرف، وعمل مجسم للأستاذ وبإيدو قضيب الرمان هو ورافعو عليه وبدو يضربو.

And because the insult that happened to Moussa during school days was harsh and difficult to forget easily, Moussa embodied the students in class in one of the rooms, and he made a statue for the teacher with a pomegranate stick in his hand while he raised it at him (at Moussa) to beat him.

25

ومش بس هيك، قرر موسى يعمل الباب الرئيسي للقلعة واطي. كرمال لما يزورا استاذو اللي أهانو، وحبيبتو سيدة،  يحنو راسن متل كأنن راكعين قدامو هني وفايتين عالقلعة، انتقاماً من الإهانة اللي عملوا فيه.

And not only this, but Moussa also decided to make the main door of the castle low so that when his teacher who insulted him and his beloved “Saideh” visits it, they bend their heads as if they are kneeling in front of him as they enter the castle, in revenge for the insult they did to him.

26

ولكل اللي حابب يعرف إذا هالشي تحقق، فبالفعل سيدة لاقاها موسى بعد ما هاجرت على نيويورك. وطلب من أصدقاء مشتركين إنو يجيبوا عالقلعة بلا ما يقولولا مين صاحبا. وفعلا هيك صار، وفاجئها موسى. أما إستاذو، فتوفى قبل ما يزور القلعة، ولكن كان سمع عن إنجاز موسى العظيم.

And for everyone who would love to know if this thing was achieved, then indeed, Moussa found “Saideh” after she immigrated to New York. He asked mutual friends to bring her to the castle without telling her who is its owner. Indeed, this is what happened, and Moussa surprised her. As for his teacher, he passed away before visiting the castle, but he had heard about Moussa’s great achievement.

27

أنا شخصيا زرت قلعة موسى أكتر من مرة. وإحدى المرات، التقيت فيه على الجسر الخشبي، وكان عم يشتري قطعة سلاح قديمة ورثا شاب من جدو. بقيت ناطرتو، وأخدت صورة معو على الجسر هو وحامل البارودة، ومبتسم ابتسامة كبيرة.

Personally, I visited Moussa Castle more than once. One time, I met him on the wooden bridge, and he was buying an old weapon that a young man had inherited from his grandfather. I remained waiting for him, and I took a picture with him on the bridge while he held the rifle and smiled big.

28

هالقلعة مش بس معلم تاريخي وفني متميز، بس كمان حكاية نضال وإصرار ونجاح لموسى المعماري، اللي ما خلا ولا أي حدا يسرق حلمو. حلمو اللي صنعو بأيديه، ليصير تحفة من أجمل أماكن لبنان السياحية.

This castle is not only a distinguished historic and artistic landmark, but it is also a story of struggle, persistence, and success for Moussa Al-Me‘mari, who did not let anyone steal his dream. His dream which he crafted with his own hands to become a masterpiece of Lebanon’s most beautiful touristic places.

29

خلصت حلقتنا عن قلعة موسى لليوم، بتمنى تكونو استمتعتو فيا.

أنا دارين، لاقوني بحلقة جديدة قريبا.

Our episode about Moussa Castle is done for today. I hope you enjoyed it. I am Dareen, meet me in a new episode soon.


Comprehension Questions (try to answer the questions while speaking out loud to yourself and using full sentences in Lebanese-Arabic)

  1. Where is Moussa Castle located?
  2. What is the story behind Moussa Castle?
  3. What are the different types of statues found in the castle?
  4. Where did Moussa get the cloths for the statues in the castle?
  5. What is a phrase Moussa engraved in the castle?

 

Vocabulary Table

#

Lebanese Arabic

English Transliteration English Translation
1 قلعة Al‘a Castle
2 قضيب رمان Adib Rommen Pomegranate stick
3 ترميم Tarmim Restoration
4 دهب Dahab Gold
5 رموز Rumuz Symbols
6 أسلحة Asliha Weapons
7 تمثال Temsel Statue
8 نجار Najjar Carpenter
9 صياد Sayyad Fisherman
10 فلاح Falleh Farmer
11 حداد Hadded Blacksmith
12 ساحة Seha Yard/Square
13 حمار Hmar Donkey
14 ضيعة Day‘a Village
15 بارودة Baroodeh Riffle

 

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