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Baalbek – the ‘Sun City’

Baalbek – the ‘Sun City’ - An excursion in Beirut, Lebanon
Baalbek, known as Heliopolis (the ‘Sun City’), was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Roman Empire. It holds the largest and most noble Roman temples ever built, and among the best preserved. Baalbek is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the wonders of the world. The town is located in the Bekaa Valley, about 85 km north east of Beirut, at an altitude of 1,170 metres. The historic settlement in the area of Baalbek dates back 9000 years. After Alexander the Great conquered the Near East in 334 BC, the town was named Heliopolis. Starting in the first century BC, the Romans built a temple complex in Baalbek. The monumental temples in Baalbek proclaimed the power of Imperial Rome. Among the gods worshipped here were Jupiter, Bacchus, Venus and Mercury. In 637 AD a Muslim army captured Baalbek after defeating the Byzantine army at Battle of Yarmouk. It became a bone of contention between the various Syrian dynasties and the caliphs of Damascus and Egypt.
Today’s Baalbek has a population of around 72,000. It is home to an internationally famous arts event, Baalbek Festival, which takes place every summer featuring opera, jazz, poetry and theatre. You can reach Baalbek in about two hours by minibus or service taxi from the Cola station in Beirut. The drive over the Mount Lebanon Range can be a chilling experience, particularly in the winter months.

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More to do and see in Beirut
» Skiing and winter sports
» Hiking and trekking
» Beaches and Seaside
» Caves
» Zahlé – The Bride of the Bekaa Valley
» Tyre (Sour)
» Sidon (Saida)
» Jounieh
» Chouf Mountains
» Byblos (Jbail)
» Bekaa Valley

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