Baalbek (1984)
Lebanon

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Lebanon 1937. Air Post. Ruins in Baalbeck.

This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. 

It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee. 

  • Lebanon 1937. Air Post. Ruins in Baalbeck. 
The town Baalbek is located in eastern Lebanon, between the Litani and Asi rivers. The name, which means “City of Baal,” is derived from the early association of the town with the worship of Baal, a local sun deity whom the ancient Greeks identified with their sun god, Helios; the Greeks and Romans called the town Heliopolis, “City of the Sun.” 

Once a splendid city, it is famous now for the imposing ruins of ancient temples.

  • Lebanon 1965. Temple of the Sun in Baalbeck. 

Lebanon 1965. Temple of the Sun in Baalbeck.

Lebanon 1967. Air Post. Temple of the Sun in Baalbeck.

The great Temple of the Sun was about 49 by 88 m (about 160 by 290 ft) and contained 58 Corinthian columns, each 22.9 m (75 ft) high and 2.2 m (7.25 ft) in diameter. The entablature was 4.3 m (14 ft) in height. 

The temple appears to have been built on an artificial mound of earth, with great stones, or megaliths, employed to sustain this mass. 

Of these megaliths, three are in position at the western end, one of them measuring 19.5 m (64 ft) long by 4.3 m (14 ft) square. 

  • Lebanon 1967. Air Post. Temple of the Sun in Baalbeck. 
The Temple of Jupiter, also of the Corinthian order, measured 69.2 m (227 ft) by 35.7 m (117 ft) and was surrounded by a peristyle of 42 plain columns, with 10 fluted columns in the vestibule. The entablature was very profusely and richly ornamented. 

The Temple of Bacchus, in front of the Temple of Jupiter, is better preserved. A smaller temple, the Temple of Venus, supported by six granite columns, adjoined the Temple of Jupiter. Traces also remain of a later Christian basilica. 

  • Lebanon 1956. Air Post. The Bacchus Temple in Baalbeck. 

Lebanon 1956. Air Post. The Bacchus Temple in Baalbeck.

Lebanon 1930. The Venus Temple in Baalbeck. Lebanon 1948. UNESCO-issue. Air Post. Bas-relief from the Apollo Temple in Baalbeck. Lebanon 1948. UNESCO-issue. Air Post. Bas-relief from the Minerva Temple in Baalbeck.

Although the early history of Baalbek is almost entirely unknown, abundant evidence indicates that the city is ancient, portions of the masonry being attributed to Phoenician origin. The Roman emperor Augustus made the city a Roman colony; the Roman emperor Trajan consulted a celebrated oracle there. The city was sacked by the Arabs in AD 748, and pillaged by the Turkic chieftain Tamerlane in 1400. A severe earthquake in 1759 devastated what monuments still remained in the city. Present-day Baalbek, connected by rail with Beirut and with Damascus and Aleppo in Syria, is the chief town in eastern Lebanon. 

Sources and links:

Other World Cultural Heritage Properties in Lebanon (on this web site). For more information about the individual properties, please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Lebanon-section. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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