Friday, April 18, 2008


Baalbeck, 85 km north east of Beirut, is Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, which can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. Baalbeck is the embodiment of the superlative. It is one of the world's greatest historical and best preserved Roman sites; the most gigantic, largest and most noble complex of Roman temples ever built, its columns are the taller ever erected, its stones are the largest ever used. Towering high above the Beqaa plain, its monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. Gods worshipped here, in its Acropolis which was constructed between the 1st and 3rd centuries, the Triad of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus (Mercury), were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility.

Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design. In Jupiter Temple, only six of the 54 giant columns that originally surrounded the sanctuary survives today. The temple has an impressive podium and a vast rectangular courtyard where sacrifices were carried out. The sanctuary is reached through a Propylaea (monumental entrance) and hexagonal forecourt. The town of Baalbeck has major remains from Islam times including the Grand Mosque built by Umayyad Caliphs with material borrowed from ancient monuments, and another mosque built in Mamluks time near the spring of Ras El-Ayn.

Over the centuries Baalbeck's monuments suffered from theft, war and earthquakes, as well as from numerous medieval additions. Fortunately, the modern visitor can see the site in something close to its original form thanks to work in the past hundred years by German, French and Lebanese archaeologists.

No comments:

Naharnet Lebanon News

Marketing in Lebanon