Lebanon: Baalbek Archaeological Site
No visit to Lebanon would be complete without seeing the massive archaeological site of Baalbek, a sprawling hilltop temple complex built in the Roman times and supposedly the largest in the world. The Roman city was known as Heliopolis aka Sun City and was built on top of an existing prehistoric settlement deep inland in Bekaa Valley (the place has been continuously inhabited for over 8000 years). Originally a site of Phoenician worship, the temples were taken over by the Romans after their colonization and conquest of the Middle East by Alexander the Great in 330BC. The city reached its apogee during the 1st century AD. Four massive temples with courtyards were constructed, at the time unrivaled in the world. Two of the biggest ones – Temple of Jupiter and Temple of Bacchus – are worthy of separate posts (next). Baalbek saw centuries of conquest and earthquakes since the Roman times, nevertheless the surviving ruins are still a sight to behold.