"City of the Sun and Hezbollah" Top 5 Page for this destination Baalbeck by iwys

Baalbeck Travel Guide: 144 reviews and 504 photos

I arrived in Baalbek a few days after Israeli troops had fought a gun battle here with Hezbollah. Baalbek has been Hezbollah's headquarters since Iranian revolutionary guards came here to train militant Shiites. In 1984, Hezbollah embarked on a much-publicised kidnapping campaign. Famous hostages included the Englishman Terry Waite, the local CIA chief William Buckley, AP bureau chief Terry Anderson and Irish university lecturer, Brian Keenan, who wrote a best-selling book about his years in captivity, entitled "An Evil Cradling". It is believed that the two Israeli soldiers captured recently, are still being held here in Baalbeck and that the Israeli attack on the local hospital was a failed attempt to rescue them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was the only foreigner in the town. I saw several buildings that had been destroyed by Israeli bombs, but everyday life continued much as usual. In the high street I got my haircut at the local barber's. In a souvenir shop, just outside the temple entrance, an attractive lady shopkeeper was selling yellow and green Hezbollah flags and T-shirts, as well as cassettes and DVDs of Hassan Nasrallah's speeches, all at knockdown prices, as I was her only customer that day.

In ancient times Baalbek was known as Heliopolis (the City of the Sun) and at various stages in history the temples here have been used for all sorts of worship, including sacred prostitution and human sacrifices, I found this description in the Lonely Planet Guide. It is taken from a tablet at Ugarit, describing Anath, the sister of Baal, one of the Gods worshipped at Baalbek:

She "waded up to the knees, up to the neck in human blood. Human heads lay at her feet, human hands flew over her like locusts. she tied the hands of her victims as ornaments on her back, their hands she tied upon her belt. When she was satisfied she washed her hands in human blood."

What you can see today is one of the greatest ancient temple complexes in the world, including the biggest stone columns ever used in any building in history. It is an awe-inspiring place.

  • Last visit to Baalbeck: Sep 2006
  • Intro Updated Oct 10, 2006
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Reviews (12)

Comments (3)

  • ukirsari's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2008 at 3:10 AM

    enjoy your page very much, i like the ruins!!!! you are most welcome for birthday greetings, ian :)

  • mariaschmidt's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2007 at 10:48 PM

    This is so interesting. I am waiting for peace to breake so I can visit this amazing place :-(

  • triplehelix's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2006 at 9:44 PM

    my goodness!!! i really want to visit baalbek from damascus in november. just breathtaking, magnificint.

iwys

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