Beirut was built on a rocky promontory, a site also occupied by prehistoric man. In ancient times it was overshadowed by powerful neighbors, but when the city- states of Sidon began to decline in the first millennium B.C, Beirut acquired more influence. During Roman times, Beirut became a roman colony (15 B.C), and an important port and cultural centre. During the roman and Byzantine eras it was distinguished for its law school, whom professors helped draft the famous Justinian code.
Beirut was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 551 A.D. A century later, it was conquered by the Muslim Arabs and in 1109 it fell to the crusaders. The city remained in crusader hands until 1291, when it was taken by the Mamluks.In 1516 the 400- year ottoman rule began. Later, in the 17th century, Beirut knew a period of great prosperity under the government of emir Fakhreddine II. Then with the break –up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I, the city became the capital of modern Lebanon.
Beirut, with nearly a million inhabitants, remains the cultural and commercial centre of the country. Some of its main landmarks are: the martyrs’ statue, the Souks (markets) and the parliament building, which are part of the design covering 1.8 million square meters. In extensive archeological investigations, historical periods ranging from Canaanite (3,000- 1200 B.C) to ottoman (1516-1918 A.D), have been revealed.
Forty-three kilometer from Beirut stands this magnificent palace built at the beginning of the 19th century by Emir Bechir II, who reigned over Lebanon for more than 50 years. With its arcades, galleries and rooms decorated by artists from Lebanon, Damascus and Italy, this building is a model of eastern architecture.Today the palace houses a museum of feudal weapons, costumes and jewelry as well as an archeological museum and a museum of Byzantine mosaics
Deir El Kamar
Deir el Kamar was the capital of Mount Lebanon, located 35 km away from Beirut, now it is a typical Lebanese village with its historical center, souk(market), museum, mosque & churches.
Heliopolis: the roman temples of Baalbeck, located in the Bekaa valley 85 kilometers away from Beirut. It makes up the largest and best preserved corpus of roman architecture left around. The acropolis occupies the top of an artificial hill built up of different layers of habitation.
Its temples, dedicated to Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus, were constructed between the first and the third centuries A.D.
in the “Jupiter temple” six of the 54 giant columns that originally surrounded the sanctuary survived till today. The temple has an impressive podium and a vast rectangular courtyard where sacrifices were carried out. The sanctuary is reached through a propylaea (monumental entrance) and hexagonal forecourt.
The town of Baalbeck has major remains from Islamic times including the grand Mosque, built by the Ommayadds with material borrowed from ancient monuments, and another mosque built in Mamluke times near the spring of Ras El–Ain.
Anjar is located in the Bekaa valley, 58 km away from Beirut. It was built by the Omayyad caliph al- Walid Ibn Abdel Malek in the early 8th century A.D. Inside the city’s strong fortifications are the remains of streets, three palaces, souks, two hammams and a Mosque.
Located on the old route linking the Bekaa with Damascus, Anjar was built in the neighborhood of an ancient stronghold called Gerrah, which location is still problematic.Today the name of Gerrah is retained in the word 'Anjar' which means 'source of Gerrah' (Ain Gerrah).
Built during the Roman period then covered by sand for centuries , the Ksara caves were found by mistakes in 1898 by the Jesuites who were looking for a wolf that was eating their chicken every night and was using the caves a refuge. It is now the refuge of the well known Ksara wine where thousands of the old wine bottles are preserved. A tasting of the best wines is done during the visits
Nominated for the seven world wonders. Jeita is one of the world's most beautiful cavern , at 20 km away north of Beirut .The lower caverns are visited by boat over a subterranean lake 623 meters long. A dry upper gallery can be seen on foot. After many years of exploration, Lebanese speleologists have penetrated 6,910 meters from the entry point of the grotto to the far end of the Underground River and 2,130 meters of the upper galleries.The main source of the Dog River (Nahr El Kalb) rises in this cavern.
One of the oldest towns in the world goes back at least 7,000 years. The rise and fall of nearly two dozen successive levels of human culture on this site makes it one of the richest archeological areas in the country.
Under the domination of the Egyptian pharaohs in the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C, Byblos was a commercial and religious capital of the Phoenician coast.
It was in Byblos where the first linear alphabet, ancestor of all modern alphabet, (through Greek and Latin), was invented.
The sarcophagus of Byblos’ king Ahiram, now in the national museum, bears
the oldest known Phoenician inscription. Byblos was also the centre of the Adonis cult, the god of vegetation who dies in winter and renewed each spring.
Like its sister cities, Byblos was destroyed in the earthquake of 551 A.D it regained some consequence in crusader times when it came under the county of Tripoli. A modest town under the Mamluks and ottomans, Byblos grew rapidly during the recent war in Lebanon when commercial activities moved from Beirut to regional capitals.
This busy modern town located at 36 kilometers north of Beirut, has the “Roman Medieval port” as its main tourist hub. The landmarks in this area are: the crusader castle and church as well as the extensive remains of city’s past - from Neolithic times to the crusader era. A beautiful Mosque adds to the cultural mix in the old part of Byblos. And all around a diversity of cafes and restaurants can be found.
600 meters above sea level and 26 km away from Beirut, with a wonderful panoramic view covering the Bay of Jounieh. Statue of the Virgin Mary was erected in 1908. Inside its base, a chapel with outside spiral staircase that leads to the top, as well telepheric service is provided from the bay of jounieh to the mountain of Harissa.