Fun things to do in Mohafazat Beqaa

  • The interior of the memorial
    The interior of the memorial
    by mikey_e
  • The lesser palace
    The lesser palace
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  • Columns and arches along the Cordo
    Columns and arches along the Cordo
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Mohafazat Beqaa

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    Baalbek

    by MM212 Updated Jan 29, 2013

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    Known as Heliopolis - City of the Sun - in the Graeco-Roman world, Baalbek possesses the most magnificent temple complex ever built by Rome. The town's Acropolis lies dramatically at the edge of the fertile Beqaa Valley and the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. During Roman times, Baalbek was a centre of Roman religion, luring many pilgrims by its extravagant temples dedicated to Jupiter, Bacchus, Mercury and Venus. As Christianity later swept the empire, Roman attempts to extinguish paganism resulted in the first of many waves of destruction to befall the temples of Baalbek. The arrival of Islam, earthquakes and many foreign invasions led to further destruction. The Moslems, who restored the city's Semitic name, later turned the Acropolis into a fortified castle and, thus, inadvertently preserved significant sections of the Acropolis. It was not until 1898 that Baalbek regained international attention and the focus of archaeologists who worked hard to restore the ancient ruins of Baalbek. The size of the Acropolis, its temples, and their state of preservation make Baalbek one of the best Roman cities around. If you have time to visit only one location outside Beirut, then you must choose Baalbek.

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    Baalbek: Grand Mosque of Baalbek

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    Baalbek may be famous for its Phoenician and Greek past, but it is currently a staunchly Shi’ite city (with Christian and Muslim minority communities as well) that is well within the power of Hizbullah and its allies. Just to the south of the city is the Great Mosque of Baalbek, which is Shiite and has been designed and decorated in the Iranian fashion. The Mosque sports a large gold dome as well as beautiful tile work. While it is not a tourist attraction and not open to visitors who simply want to tour the mosque, it does make for some beautiful photographs.

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    Baalbek: Mameluk Mosque

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    There is little that remains of the mosque walls, but from above (that is, from the Temple of Jupiter), it is easy to make out the pillars of the mosque's prayer hall. This mosque was built in the late 13th century by the Mameluk rulers of the area. Although it likely withstood Timur's pillaging of the site, any structure that remain would have been badly damaged, if not completely destroyed, by the massive earthquake that struck the region in 1759.

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    Baalbek: Temple of Bacchus

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The Temple of Bacchus is truly the most elegant of all of the ruins, in part because it retains so much of its original structure that it is capable to feel that this is a complete building. Set apart from the Temple of Jupiter, it sits below it on a raised platform accessed by 33 steps. All around the platform are massive columns, except for the front, where the entrance leads the visitor to the interior of the temple, past friezes that depict Mercury, Adonis and eagles. Inside the temple, the visitor will be greeted with yet another series of steps up to the altar, as well as walls that have been engraved upon. These engravings are no less interesting, as they come from various parts of the Temple’s history, including the period during the 15th century when it was used as palace for the Mameluk governor.

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    Baalbek: The Propylaea

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The Propylaea is a series of columns at the entrance to the Baalbek site and thus acts as a sort of welcome to visitors. Only six columns remain standing, of which only four are connected, but it is obvious from what does remain that this must have been an imposing structure, an announcement of the grand scale of the monuments that lay behind the entrance.

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    Baalbek: Temple of Jupiter

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    Up the staircase from the Great Patio is the Temple of Jupiter, also known as the Temple of the Sun. Far less remains of this temple than of that dedicated to Bacchus, but we are at least able to gather a sense of the original size of the structure from the one row of columns that remain. These are five meters tall and were topped with capital of lions and bulls; some of the collapsed capitals can be seen below by the Temple of Bacchus.

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    Baalbek: The Exedra

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The court is surrounded by walls in which there are eight rectangular and four semi-circular exedra, each of which features rich details and reliefs that deserve a close examination. These are set off from the main section of the court by crypto-porticos, and were intended to be used as rooms for sacred feasts dedicated to fraternity and community.

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    Baalbek: Great Court

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The Great Court is the central part of the site, and was meant to be the gathering point for rites and sacrifices. In the center is a massive altar that is flanked by red columns, and that was, later on, converted into the centerpiece of a basilica, traces of which no longer remain. The Great Court is a massively open space, and when visited during the off season, its emptiness can only instill in the visitor a knowledge of the greatness of the engineers and planners of the Greek city.

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    Octagonal Court

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The first part of the ruins to be encountered is the Octagonal Court, which was built in the 3rd century CE. It was used as a church during the 4th to 6th centuries, but remains its grandeur as a Hellinistic, rather than Christian, monument. It contains 30 columns, all of which provide the visitor with an initial hint of the embellishment that will be seen further on at the site.

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    Greek Baalbeck

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    Baalbek is indeed an impressive site. It was first settled as an urban or quasi-urban agglomeration sometime in the 3rd millennium BCE as a Phoenician settlement. It takes its name from Baal, the Phoenician god of storms and thunder, which appears to have outlasted even Greek attempts at renaming the site (they called it Heliopolis, city of the sun). Today, the Baalbek site boasts an impressive number of ruins that are certain to astound even those visitors who have seen the Decapoli. This open air museum puts into perspective just how monumental monumental architecture can be. Its remains can be climbed on, jumped off of and photographed as panoramas and backgrounds.

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    Anjar: Umayyad Houses

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    There are many sites of ruins across the Middle East that provide us with examples of the monumental architecture of the great empires that ruled this region in the first millennium of the common era. These often, however, do not include a great amount of ruins that elucidate the lives of ordinary people, whose houses did not withstand, it appears, the test of time. At Anjar, however, we are left with a plethora of (poorly surviving, but surviving) examples of the small structures that would have been used by ordinary citizens as homes and shops. They do not provide sufficient detail to understand the daily routines of the locals, but at the very least a visitor is still capable of understanding the basic outlay life for the peons on whose backs the empires flourished.

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    Anjar: Cordo Maximus

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    As in the cities of the Decapolis (the ten Roman cities of the Levant), the Umayyad city of Anjar has a cordo maximus, or a main road that was, in the past, lined by elegant and imposing columns. While there are few of these columns that are left and that have not been ravaged by time, their placement along the route allows the visitor to imagine just what it would have been like to walk down this road when the city was at its peak.

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    Anjar: Umayyad Little Palace

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    There are two palaces in the Umayyad city, but it is the Little Palace that is the best preserved. Its arches and walls are partially intact (better than those of the Greater Palace) and they provide an idea of the type of architecture that was employed in constructing the city. They have airy, large arches that permit sunlight and air to enter the palace, and the two-toned brickwork gives a distinctively Arab feel to a style that is greatly influenced by Roman conventions.

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    Anjar: Umayyad Baths

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    The baths in Anjar stand separately from the main city, and are surprisingly small given the number of houses and public buildings that are found within the remaining walls. They are preserved fairly well, insofar as it is still possible to determine the function of the various rooms. The baths are interesting from the fact that, despite having been built by the Umayyads, they followed a Roman pattern rather than one more typical of baths in other Arab cities.

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    Anjar: Umayyad Town

    by mikey_e Written Nov 29, 2012

    Anjar’s antiquities are prized not only as a UNESCO world heritage site, but also because they are the only Umayyad remains that have been found in the Lebanese Republic to date. The Umayyad city is remarkable as well for its Roman layout and design, as it combines a number of Umayyad traits (notable in the dichromatic brickwork and the mosque) with Roman streets (the Cordo Maximus), arches and a Roman bath. Visitors are free to wander about the site of the ruins, and to take pictures.

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