Situated around 90 kilometres from Beirut in Eastern Lebanon are the awe inspiring ancient ruins of Baalbek. The ancient Phoenician city with its colossal structures provides some of the finest examples of Imperial Rome with a rich and fascinating history which dates back 9,000 years. Our Lebanon correspondent Nay El-Helou paid a visit to the spectacular archaeological site.
Image Baalbek Propylaea. Wikipedia Creative Commons
The first thing that grabs your attention on your visit will be the third century Propylaea. It’s worthwhile savouring the experience as you make your way from the lush green grass of the present to the greyish stones of the past.
Image Bacchus Temple entrance
Dating back to 150 AD and larger than Greece’s Parthenon, proudly towering 31-metres high are Corinthian columns which make up the famous iconic landmark of Baalbeck, the Temple of Bacchus. Bacchus was the Roman god of wine and Baalbek fitting has some of the oldest known wine caves with Lebanon among the oldest sites of wine production in the world.
Alexander the Great conquered Baalbek in the fourth century, creating and renaming it Heliopolis to honour Zeus, the god of the sky. And so you can see remnants of both Greek and Roman architecture but the site dates back much further to the biblical and historical region of Canaan, named after the deity Baal.
Image Jupiter Temple. Steven Damron via Flickr
The smallest of the three Roman temples is the Temple of Venus. Dating back to the 3rd century AD, Venus’s temple is now Saint Barbara’s church. The Great Court also remains while it’s hard to not be impressed by the heads of lions beautifully crafted high up the structures.
The Pregnant Woman Stone is one of the largest monoliths ever quarried and the biggest of the two Roman monoliths in Baalbek.
Image Stone of the pregnant women. Steven Damron via Flickr
For the more adventurous you can even ride a camel in Baalbek although it may challenge your senses as camels can smell bad, really bad, but all part of the whole camel riding experience.