Looking back: 2008 Visiting Lebanon
Visiting the Akropolis reminded me very much of our first trip to Lebanon in 2008 which was also our first trip to the Middle East. Especially, our excursion to Baalbek in the Beqaa Valley located between Beirut and Damascus in Syria (the latter we visited in 2009 on our second trip to the Middle East – but that is another story).
The area of the valley has continuously been inhabited for more than 8000 years and under rule of several ancient empires. The current remains of the Temple of Bacchus was built in Roman time around 200 AD – so it is some centuries younger than the Akropolis.
The state of the temple was breathtaking for me, as from above perspective it still grants you the impression of how it must have looked like upon completion.
It was extremely exciting that we could actually walk through the ruins – whereas in the Akropolis you walk around the buildings. In addition, the whole site was tidied up whereas in Baalbek you walked among the stones…
We loved the whole trip to Lebanon, the excursion to Baalbek but also Beirut´s bustling city life and the fantastic Lebanese cuisine which for me is still one of the best in the world. Beirut – once the Paris of the Middle East – was completely destroyed in the civil war (1975-1990). Most of the city was rebuild, especially downtown shows its former splendor again in a modern way.
We saw also a lot of remains of either civil war or more recent political events such as the assassination of one of the former prime ministers in 2005. He got killed by a heavy bomb that also affected below building.
In 2008 we did another day trip out of town: we went to ancient Byblos that is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world (since 5000 BC). It is located 40 km North of Beirut and was the first city built by the Phoenicians and important for its trade with Egypt and Greece. Cedar wood was exported to Egypt whilst papyrus to Greece. In addition, the alphabet was invented in Byblos.
One year later we returned to Beirut and took a taxi from there to Damascus in Syria – another exciting trip!