Jul 27, 2010

Baalbek Temple Complex Lebanon

The Roman temples of Baalbek Lebanon are some of the grandest and best preserved in the world. Layers of civilization and pagan roots date back to the Phoenicians. Known in ancient times as City of the Sun, Baalbek's heyday came when the Romans colonized it and spent centuries building the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Bacchus.
Most tourists take a day trip to Baalbek, which is about a two-hour drive from Beirut. There are a few hotels in town, including the legendary Palmyra Hotel where I stayed. A relic from colonial days gone by this mansion has spectacular views of the temple complex from its roof and terraces. It also has a good selection of wine, due to its strategic location in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon’s wine country.

In recent years the spotlight on Baalbek as home to the temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been overshadowed by the ongoing political conflicts in Lebanon. Baalbek is a stronghold for Hezbollah, the Party of God. Indeed T-shirts emblazoned with the Hezbollah logo were being sold at souvenir stands outside the temple complex and were popular with tourists.

But Lebanon was undergoing a renaissance when I was there in May of 2006 about six weeks before the war with Israel broke out. It was re-emerging as a travel hot spot after 15 years of civil war and the subsequent years rebuilding. Even with the up tick in tourism I pretty much had the place to myself, particularly late in the day when the day trippers departed leaving me with free photographic reign during the golden hours of the late afternoon light.


Lakshmi said...

wow..amazing architecture

Kristina said...

what an amazing site, wonderful.
viele gruesse, kristina

Wendy said...

Lakshmi and Kristina, I would love to go back one day.