Baalbeck or as it was originally known ‘Heliopolis’ is a major historical site containing various temples and other buildings created by the Phoenicians and the Romans, among others. Located about 2 hours north of Beirut one can access Baalbeck by public transportation (which we did by using a mini-bus from the Cola Gas station, not far from the Hamza Mosque). The bus will make a significant climb out of Beirut over the mountains – ultimately dropping you off close to Baalbeck from where you will have to hire a taxi for the very short remaining distance.
This site is extremely impressive with a number of well preserved buildings still standing including the awe-inspiring Bacchus temple, the Greek god of wine. Numerous artifacts, sculptures, columns and other preserved historical items are on display in this ‘outdoor’ museum. The indoor museum is worth visiting – and contains a diverse collection that archaeologists have unearthed over the years.
Allow at least several hours wandering the old sites. Several food and drink vendors have setup shop near the main entrance.
Visiting in the heat of the summer? The annual Baalbeck International Festival hosts a variety of musicians and dance groups within the confines of the temples and old city. A number of well known musicians have performed here (60+ years and running). For more information about this festival, visit: www.baalbeck.org.lb