If Lebanon is Pearl of the Middle East, Baalbek is, without a doubt, the heart of it. Belonging to pre-Hellenistic era, Baalbek is an ancient town in the Bekaa valley of Lebanon.
The ruins of the Roman temples in Baalbek speak about the glory of the then great Roman Empire. The symbolic structures of the grafted deities and gods portray the ancient beliefs of the time. Although the settlement in this area started almost 9000 years ago, however when Alexander the Great conquered this area, it was named as Heliopolis. The Greek also retained the status of Baalbek as the center of religious and cultural activities.
Baalbek, the heart of Lebanon is considered one of the best preserved ancient sites of the Roman civilization. The Baalbek Acropolis contains collectively the temples of Venus, Jupiter and Bacchus. The columns of the temples are erected very tall and very large stones have been used in its construction.
75 feet above the ground Jupiter Baal temple is constructed with tons of heavy blocks. These marvelous blocks are also used in the retaining walls on three sides of the temple. The Temple of Bacchus, in front of the Temple of Jupiter, is much better preserved due to spending the centuries buried in rubble. A smaller temple, the Temple of Venus, supported by six granite columns, adjoined the Temple of Jupiter.
Due to its historical background, UNESCO listed the Baalbek city in The World Heritage list in 1984. It is a blend of Roman, Greek and Arab structures and UNESCO included the whole area as protected site including the Arab Walls, south-western extramural quarter between Bastan-al-Khan, the Roman site and the Mameluk mosque of Ras-al-ain.
Baalbek, the heart of Lebanon is home to the annual Baalbek International Festival.