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Historical Sites

There are a number of incredible historical sites in Lebanon, many of which date back to the Iron Age during the height of Phoenician civilization. In addition, there are numerous sites that were established or revamped during the time in which the Roman Empire was at its height.


Here is a list of some places that you should consider visiting while you’re here.

1. Baalbek – The magnificence of the Temple of Bacchus can only be truly appreciated by experiencing these ancient ruins first hand. The temple was built by the Romans atop previous temple that was constructed by the early Canaanite inhabitants, who built the temple for their principal deity, Ba’al, whence the city of Baalbek gets its name. Outside of Rome, it was the largest temple ever built.

2. Sidon (Saida) – Currently under renovation, the Temple of Eshmun is currently free to visit. Built by the Phoenicians, it became a place of healing, and was dedicated to Eshmun, one of the most important deities. In addition to the Temple of Eshmun, the shrine of Zebulon, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, sits idly within stone walls. Once a famous pilgrimage site, the shrine has remained all but forgotten. Though it is not maintained, it is free to visit. Today it is known by locals as maqam el nabi saydoun, and very few know about its true history or what it’s for. Aside from that, the picturesque Sidon Sea Castle, built by the Crusaders is well worth a visit. It faces the old souks of Sidon, as well as several seaside cafes, where you can sit for a relaxing afternoon.

3. Tyre (Soor) – Famous as one of the two main Phoenician city states, and home to the world’s first purple dye, Tyre’s history is written on its physical geography. In the Phoenician language, Soor can be translated to mean rock; however, in the context of its time, this word was most likely a descriptive word to describe an island. This is because in antiquity, Tyre had served as exclusive island and port for the luxury goods of the region. However, the island became connected to the mainland by Alexander the Great, who built a land bridge in 333 BCE in order to conquer the island in spite of its strong resistance. That land bridge exists to today, but has developed into an almost seamless transition from the mainland to the former island. Today, the former island serves as a port, and boasts a colorful and quaint neighborhood with a few small pubs and restaurants. Tyre is also home to some of Lebanon’s best beaches, and is a great summer getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Also, don’t forget to check out the hippodrome!

4. Tripoli (Trablos) – Tripoli is the second largest city in Lebanon. Historically, it has operated as an independent city that had strong trade agreements with Aleppo. One of the most famous historical sites is the Tripoli Citadel, which was built by the Mamluks, and the surrounding city is known to bear more of a resemblance to Egyptian structures rather than traditional Lebanese ones. You can also visit the old hammams, or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a 20-minute boat trip to Rabbit island for a day in the sun away from the big city. If you’re in the mood for a stroll, pass by Tripoli’s soap market for a variety of handmade soaps, and don’t forget to try the traditional Arabic sweets at Hallab!

5. Qadisha Valley – For many centuries, this valley has been home to Christian monastic communities. It’s natural geographic landscape has offered protection from the possibility of invasion. In times long ago, the monasteries were built directly into the rocks, and an elaborate cave system served as the main shelter for those pursuing a hermetic lifestyle. Today, the monasteries continue to function, but have been updated and built into the sides of the valley. It is possible to go hiking in the valley, and even stay overnight at the monasteries for a fee. The Our Lady Qannoubine Monastery is one of the monasteries that travelers can stay at. Other monasteries, such as the Saint Elisha Monastery and the Monastery of Antonios Qozhaya are well worth a visit during a hike through the valley. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also visit Dario Escobar, the most famous hermit in Lebanon. Signs pointing to the direction of his home can be found on the main hiking path, and all visitors are generally welcome to enter and pay him a visit.

6. Byblos (Jbeil) – Byblos is known as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Today, it is a leading city in Lebanon in terms of environmentalist innovations, and a favorite destination for both tourists and Lebanese. It was through the port of Byblos that the Phoenician alphabet was disseminated throughout the Mediterranean, giving way to many of the alphabets we use today—including the Latin Alphabet! In the souks, you can find displays of prehistoric fossils alongside souvenir shops and restaurants. The famous port is also a sight to behold. It sits not far from the Byblos Castle, which was built by the crusaders next to some ancient Phoenician burial grounds on the seaside. In fact, in 1922 a landslide due to heavy rains revealed numerous sarcophagi that had long been forgotten. Among these was the sarcophagus of the famous King Ahiram, which is the centerpiece of the Beirut National Museum. Byblos is also home to one of the best public beaches in Lebanon.

7. Batroun – For a relaxing day in a beautiful town, head up to Batroun. There, you can walk through the old souks, spend a day at the beach, and enjoy some of its famous Lemonade from Hilmi’s House of Lemonade, which also features a small museum that will provide a new perspective on traditional lemonade making in Lebanon. In terms of history, Batroun boasts breathtaking views from the Phoenician wall that was built in antiquity to protect the small city from tidal waves. There are also a number of small rocky beaches to enjoy when the weather is nice.
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