Baalbek - former Heliopolis

Baalbek Travel Blog

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Baalbek the 'square'

I hadn't planned go to Baalbek this day. By midday I was tired of strolling around in the heavy traffic and far distances in Beirut. So I asked the owner at the hostel of the fastest way to Baalbek. He sketched a very helpful map to me, saying take a service-taxi to the airport bridge, then cross the junction and take a minibus coming from Cola bus station for Baalbek. It turned out work very well, staying at the junction, I just waited two minutes before a very old and shabby Toyota minibus stopped and I just said Baalbek and the driver nodded his head and I jumped in the back. Squeezed in between only local people smiling friendly at me, the bus started to climb the winding roads.

a view towards the archeologica sites from the 'square'
With its worned out suspension I felt like hitting the ground in every curve. But that seemed to be quite normal so I just went with the flow...

It was quite a breathtaking journey over the Mount Lebanon and an interesting experience in the old minibus. On the other side of Mount Lebanon entering the Bekaa Valley I was stunned by its fertile and green landscape. The wines and green-houses lined up along the road and the only things disturbing this idyllic atmosphere was some military checkpoints that stopped the bus. They just looked into the bus and let us continue on the road. Even if it was routine-controls it was some kind of reminder of the unstable situation in the area. Three military soldiers in the mini-bus jumped off not far from the Syrian boarder and most probably were on duty at the boarderline.

the old mosque from the 12th centurary
After been sittng in the minibus for two hours it was good to jump off in Baalbek. You cannot miss that you are there because the town dominates by its huge area of archelogical sites and temples. Having jumped off the bus after the two hours ride I just decided to stay over night in Baalbek. So I headed off to a hotel and rented a room for one night. 

All afternoon was spent on the archeological sites. After a good rest on my room I tried to find a restaurant to eat. It turned out that almost everything was closed, due to the citizens celebrated that a strike was over resulting in rised salaries. It was like after a football derby with all its celebrations. But I was hungry and in vain looked for a restaurant where I could taste some of the wellknown wine from the Bekaa Valley.

Network!

After half an hours walk I entered a cafe that was open asking for something to eat. They just served coffee, tea and soft drinks and of course hookah. But the lebanese people are so much helpful and full of hospitability, so the young man said, '- well, if you have time to wait for ten minutes I can arrange something for you'. Of course I waited. After ten minutes the young man served a very nice lebanese course with meet and vegetables. From where he picked it up he didn t say. He couldn t get any wine for me but asked me if I wanted him to pick up a local beer. Of course I wanted that.

So I was very pleased when walking back to my hotel room for an early sleep in. The town Baalbek is a sleepy town in the evenings. Nothing was open, and you couldn t see many people out, but some men sitting playing cards outside a supermarket.

Baalbek town

The next morning I woke up very early. At seven o clock I heard some noice from loudspeakers singing and praying. But it was not the usual cries from the minarets, it was female voices.... I became very curious and after taking my breakfast, listening to the singing and praying outside, I tried to find from where the noice came from and found a Maronite church where the mass were beginning in ten minutes so I entered.

It struck me that Lebanon is a country with many religions and different kind of churches, mosques and other places for prayers. But it was the first time I ever heard a church crying out prayers and songs, in all the town before the service. Interesting.

After the service I took just took a minibus back to Beirut.

vances says:
Though Lebanon is a bit more unstable than Jordan, we experienced frequent military check points there...so hopefully those you encountered were simply routine.
Posted on: Jun 05, 2010
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Baalbek the square
Baalbek the 'square'
a view towards the archeologica si…
a view towards the archeologica s…
the old mosque from the 12th centu…
the old mosque from the 12th cent…
Network!
Network!
Baalbek town
Baalbek town
Baalbek town
Baalbek town
the square where all service-tax…
the 'square' where all service-ta…
The sunset over the ruins were jus…
The sunset over the ruins were ju…
a landmark in the night
a landmark in the night
A service in the Maronite church
A service in the Maronite church
The Maronite church
The Maronite church
Venus and Muses temples
Venus and Muses temples
Venus temple, general view and pla…
Venus temple, general view and pl…
the monumental entrance
the monumental entrance
embedded in the fertile and green …
embedded in the fertile and green…
Baalbek Hotels & Accommodations review
local touch
With a very central location in Balbeek, you'll find this friendly small hotel. It has a lot of atmosphere and has words of being one of the German ar… read entire review
Baalbek Sights & Attractions review
The Holy precinct of Baalbek
The archeological site of Baalbek dominates the town and is on the list of Unesco World Heritage. During the Roman period /first c BC to third c AD/a… read entire review
Baalbek
photo by: lucyglaser