I am not a fan of crowds — not at all. I am one of those people who goes out of her way to travel during the off-season, attend events on weekdays, arrive at opening time or pretty much anything else that will hopefully mean that I get to miss the crowds. At least as much as possible. So a year or so ago when I was watching a travel show on television that suggested skipping the traditional Roman ruins for a lesser known site, my ears perked up. Lebanon’s Baalbek is a World Heritage Site and, in the words of UNESCO, “one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee.” Once you see the photographs, it is not difficult to see why Baalbek is on my must see list.
Baalbek is also known as Heliopolis from when it was under Roman rule and, like many of the cities of the time, Baalbek belonged to a number of different civilizations, including the Phoenicians. Located a little more than 50 miles northeast of Beirut and just under 50 miles north of Damascus, Baalbeck’s ruins include many temples dedicated to Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus that are, today, in various states. Some are mere piles of stone while others still stand amazingly tall. Many of the ruins that are still standing include incredible details that have survived the ages and were built over two hundred years.
Being able to walk amongst ancient ruins is not an everyday experience for most of us. Baalbek is definitely one that is must see and must experience given the opportunity.