"Baalbek - Heliopolis" Top 5 Page for this destination Baalbeck by MM212

Baalbeck Travel Guide: 144 reviews and 504 photos


At the edge of the fertile Beqaa Valley and the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains lies the Acropolis of Baalbek, the most magnificent temple complex ever built by Rome. Known as Heliopolis in the Graeco-Roman world, Baalbek quickly became a centre of Roman religion in the Levant and was used to lure the newly conquered people into the sphere of Roman politics and religion. The unparallelled grandeur and unmatched extravagance were a testament to the significance of this region to the Roman Empire.

The site chosen for this lavish construction had been of importance to paganism since at least the 1st millennium BC. It was used in the worship of Semitic gods, particularly Baal (also known as Haddad) who gave the city its name. After the arrival of Alexander the Great and the Hellenisation of the region, the city was renamed Heliopolis – City of the Sun. During this time, foundations were laid for the construction of a great Greek temple dedicated to Zeus, the Ancient Greek god equated with Baal, but the Romans conquered the Eastern Mediterranean before it was erected and instead built their largest temple dedicated to Jupiter. The construction of other temples, dedicated to Bacchus, Mercury, Venus, and others soon followed re-establishing Heliopolis as a major pilgrimage site in the Levant. As Christianity later swept the empire, Roman attempts to extinguish paganism resulted in the first of many waves of destruction to befall the temples of Baalbek. The arrival of Islam, numerous earthquakes and several foreign invasions, in particular by Tamerlane in 1400, led to further destruction, but along the passage of time the Moslems, who restored the city's Semitic name, had turned the Acropolis into a fortified castle and, thus, inadvertently preserved significant sections of its architecture. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that Baalbek regained international attention and the focus of archaeologists who worked hard to restore the ancient ruins of Baalbek.

The size of the Acropolis, its temples, and their state of preservation make Baalbek one of the best Roman cities around.

Nowadays, Baalbek is a thriving town with a majority Shiite population. Its association with Hizbollah has tainted the city with a darker repution, yet it remains an important tourist destination and home to celebrated international summer festivals. From a tourist perspective, the Acropolis is the most important monument to visit, though there are a few other notable historic monuments of interest.

Lebanon itinerary in March 2005:

Beirut - Beqaa Valley - Baalbek - Aanjar - Liban Nord (northern Lebanon) - El Arz - Tripoli - Mont Liban - Byblos - Tyre - Sidon

Lebanon itinerary in November 2005:

Beirut - Liban Nord (northern Lebanon) - Tripoli - Beqaa Valley - Baalbek - Aanjar - Mont Liban - Byblos

Lebanon & Syria itinerary in Dec 2009/Jan 2010:

Beirut - Liban Nord - Tripoli - Byblos - Beqaa Valley - Aanjar - Damascus - Baalbek - Mont Liban - Tyre - Sidon

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Impressive, beautiful, with very few tourists
  • Cons:Nearly 2 hours from Beirut
  • In a nutshell:The most impressive site in Lebanon
  • Last visit to Baalbeck: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (30)

Comments (7)

  • christinattling's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    very infomative! tat confirmed my visit to Baalbeck this coming may

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2007 at 3:20 AM

    Lebanon and Baalbek have been on my wish list for a long time. One day, perhaps. I've noticed that you've travelled a lot in Middle East. Lucky you! Thanks for visiting my Greece pages.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2006 at 9:16 PM

    The ruins of Baalbek is really impressive and it is sad to hear what has happened. For the people I hope there will now be peace.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Aug 15, 2006 at 8:15 AM

    Baalbek really is a must-see for visitors to Lebanon. How sad to think of it being damaged in this way. The photos of the new mosque are most interesting, it's so very Iranian. Thanks for the email. leyle

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM

    Thanks for documenting the ruins here. This is a must see place in Lebanon for sure...

  • hivaoa1's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2006 at 9:28 AM

    wow, this looks so great... no words..

  • luigi_pl's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2006 at 6:09 AM

    i like very much your architectural details photos from baalbeck! cheers!


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