Baalbek – 9,000 years old ancient site in Lebanon

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.

Baalbek Propylaea

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.

Baalbek Bacchus Temple

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.

jupiter temple, baalbek

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.

Pregnant Woman Stone 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.

Books

History of Baalbek

Photographic Print of Ruins of Baalbek, Lebanon, as seen in the 19th century

Lebanon – The Baalbek Folk Festival feat. Fairuz

Beirut, Lebanon: An Explosion of Possibilities
Italy, Pompeii
Cultural Heritage