Andrew Mobbs (mobbsy) wrote,
Andrew Mobbs
mobbsy

Baalbek

Last September, I took a holiday in Lebanon. I should have written about it long ago, but now seems a good time to get around to it.

Probably the highlight of the trip was the temple complex at Baalbek, at the foot of the Bekaa valley. The valley that's featuring so much in the news at the moment is a remarkably fertile plateau between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges, a valley but raised well above sea level. Between the mountain ranges are kilometres of vinyards and other agriculture, where roadside vendors selling fresh grapes, peppers, tomatos, apples and the like.

Baalbek is a vast site, with temples dedicated to Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus (or their local guises in the Graeco-Roman Levant). It was primarily constructed between 15BC and about 150AD.

The largest is the temple dedicated to Jupiter Baal, Mostly now ruined, the whole temple sits on a raised dais, with a broad range of steps leading up to the main platform (with the temple of Bacchus in the background):


There was once a colonnade of colossal columns around the temple, only six now stand:


(for scale, note the two people sitting next to the stump of a column just below the centre. The columns are significantly thicker at the base than my height).

Best preserved of the temples is the much smaller temple of Bacchus:




It's a shame I didn't find a way of capturing the scale of the whole site from the ground. It is awe inspiring being there amoung ancient buildings of such scale. As I failed to find a way of conveying that, I'll have to make do with promising it's real and showing a couple of more shots of temples lying in dust:






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