What to See in Lebanon

By | July 18, 2022

40 km south of Saida is the city of Sur – the fourth largest city in the country and one of its largest seaports. Sur was founded in 2750 BC on the coast and two small islands. Under King Hiram in the 10th century BC. both islands were united. Starting from the 9th century BC, when the Phoenicians came here, the city began to be called Tire. It was one of the most significant Mediterranean cities in Phoenicia, from where the Phoenician troops went on sea voyages, and became famous for the purple paint produced here. In 332 B.C. The army of Alexander the Great approached Tire. All local residents moved to the island part of the city, where they held the defense for 7 months. Then Alexander ordered to make a mound from the mainland to the island part of the city, after which Tire fell. Today Sur located on an artificial promontory protruding into the sea. The main historical sights of the city are concentrated in two archaeological zones: the western – the Ancient City, which in ancient times was located on the island, and the eastern – the El Bass region, which was previously the mainland. The most interesting excavation area of ​​the Ancient City, where you can see the ancient streets surrounded by colonnades, shopping areas, residential areas, where you can see mosaics among the ruins, a rectangular arena with five tiers of seats where boxing and wrestling competitions were held, as well as the remains of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, erected in the 12th century by the crusaders. El Bass area covers the mainland of the ancient city. Most of the buildings here date back to the 2nd-6th centuries AD. The main attraction of the archaeological zone of El Bass is the Roman Hippodrome. This is the largest hippodrome of ancient times: it had a length of 480 m, a width of 160 m, and a capacity of 30,000 spectators. Chariot races continued here for several days every 30 minutes. In addition to the archaeological areas in Sura, the fishing port, buildings of the Mamluk and Turk eras and, of course, numerous oriental markets are interesting.

According to Top-mba-universities, around Sur it is worth visiting the city of glass masters – Sarafand, mentioned in the Bible under the name Serepta; burials of the 6th-4th centuries BC, which, according to tradition, were named after the most famous king of Tire – Hiram and the coastal reserve of Tyre. The Thira Coastal Reserve was established in 1998 south of Sur on an area of 8 square kilometers. km. In the center of the reserve is the source of Ras El Ain with the remains of ancient aqueducts, which was the main source of water for the Phoenician Tire. There are also marches in the reserve where migratory birds stop in spring and autumn, and the local sandy beaches in the summer become one of the few places on Earth where rare large-headed and green sea turtles lay their eggs.

In the eastern part of the country, between the mountains of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, the Beqaa Valley extends. The southern part of the valley, where the country’s largest river, the Litania, flows, is occupied by agricultural land, vineyards grow here and wineries function, where the best Lebanese wines are produced. The history of Lebanese wine production is about 4000 years old. In this part of the valley it is worth visiting the wine capital of Lebanon – the city of Zahle. It is located at an altitude of 900 m and is surrounded by vineyards. It is the only city in the Middle East with a predominantly Catholic population. Zahle was founded about 300 years ago. In 1885, a railway was launched through the city, which connected the Bekaa Valley with Syria. The city center is located on both banks of the Barduini River, on the west bank is the Old Town, on the east – banks and shops. In the Old City, old private houses are interesting, among which are the house of the Turkish sheikh Khalil Geh of the 17th century, the Government House of 1885 with a museum on the history of the city, numerous hotels the end of the 19th century, the oldest church in the city is the Sayudit Zalzali Church of 1700, the Church of St. Elias of 1720 and the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of 1720 with the largest bell tower in the country, where the icon of the Virgin Mary is located, donated to the city by the king of Prussia. Also in Zahle is the tower of the Virgin Mary, which the locals consider the patroness of not only the city, but the entire Bekaa Valley. The tower is located on the Tel Chia hill and has a height of 54 meters. It is crowned with a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary 10 m high. There is an observation platform on the tower, where tourists are delivered by an elevator. On the northern outskirts of Zahle, along the banks of the Barduini River, lies the valley of Wadi El-Araesh, which means “wine valley”. Here, several centuries ago, restaurants of traditional cuisine began to appear. Now in the valley are the best restaurants in the city, surrounded by picturesque landscapes. In Zahle, tourists are offered numerous wine tours. Of particular interest are tours to the city of Ksara, where the wine of the same name is produced, as well as the national alcoholic drink – arak. In the vicinity of Zahle, you can go to the village of Karak, where the monastery is located, the walls of which are decorated with ancient Arabic inscriptions, the village of Furzol with the remains of a Roman temple and the village of Nia, where the restored temple of the Phoenician god Hadaranes is located. The famous city of the Umayyads – Anzhar is located 8 km from Zahle. It is believed that Anjar was founded between 705 and 715 by the Umayyad dynasty on the site of the ancient city of Guerra. The Umayyads became the first hereditary dynasty in Islam to rule after the Prophet Muhammad. The place for the founding of Anzhar was not chosen by chance, because trade routes leading to Damascus, Homs, Baalbek and the southern regions of the Middle East intersected here. This predetermined the fate of Anzhar as one of the largest shopping centers in the region. The area of the Anjara archaeological zoneis 114 thousand sq.m. Here, sections of the fortress wall with gates and towers have been preserved, the main street of the city – Cardo Maximus, 20 m wide, decorated with stone arches and columns and surrounded by the ruins of several hundred small shops, the ruins of the Grand Palace and public baths.

In the central part of the Bekaa Valley, 85 km northeast of Beirut, at an altitude of 1170 m, the ancient city of Baalbek is located. . Its history is about 5000 years old, which is confirmed by archaeological finds. In 2000 B.C. the Phoenicians came here. They built here a temple dedicated to the god of the Sun – Baal, from where the name of the city came from. Later, the Greeks who conquered the city named it Heliopolis, in honor of their sun god, Helios. With the advent of the Roman Empire, Heliopolis became the center of Roman power in the Beqaa Valley. On the site of the Phoenician sanctuary at the end of the 1st century BC. the Romans began to build a new temple of Jupiter, which, after 2 centuries, became one of the most outstanding buildings of the ancient world and the largest Roman temple. The temple has a length of 88 m, a width of 48 m and in ancient times was surrounded by 54 columns. For centuries the ruins of the temple complex of Baalbek were underground, archaeological excavations in these places began in 1898. The architecture of the buildings that have survived to this day differs from the classical Roman one, since in subsequent years many conquerors supplemented them. Every year in July-August, an international festival of folk and classical music is held in Baalbek, it lasts for 4 weeks. This is the best time to visit the city when the ancient Baalbek comes alive.

In the north of the Bekaa Valley, about 60 km from Baalbek, it is worth visiting the city of Hermel. In its vicinity is the Hermel Pyramid., which was built in the 2nd century BC. It is a stone tower 19 m high, standing on a pedestal 8 m high. The pedestal of the pyramid is decorated with images of animals. Not far from here, the Maronite monastery of Deir Maar-Marun is of interest . It was built in the 5th century AD. It is believed that this place was the temporary home of Saint Maroun, who founded the Maronite community in the 4th century.

What to See in Lebanon