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Special Lebanon

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Lebanon – Syria - Jordan 13N/14D
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Cities Details

Lebanon Cities

Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon with a population ranging from some 1 million to more than 2 million as of 2007. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's coastline with the Mediterranean, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan Area, which consists of the city and its suburbs. The first mention of this metropolis is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters, dating to the 15th century BC, and the city has been continuously inhabited since.
Beirut holds Lebanon's seat of government, and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy with its city centre, Hamra, Verdun, and Ashrafieh-based corporate firms and banks. The city is the focal point of the region's cultural life, renowned for its press, theatres, cultural activities, and nightlife. After the destructive Lebanese civil war, Beirut underwent major reconstruction,[1][2][3] and the redesigned historic city centre, marina, pubs and nightlife districts have once again rendered it a tourist attraction. Beirut was named the top place to visit in 2009 by The New York Times.[4] It was also listed as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in 2009.[5]


Aanjar
Most notable for its graceful stone arches and wide arcades, the ruins of Aanjar offer visitors a unique opportunity to step foot upon an ancient Islamic trading hub connecting Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. Situated at the southern end of the Békaa Valley, Aanjar is among the world's few known ruins of the 8th century Umayyad dynasty and is one of the region's only examples of an inland commercial center.
At only 1,300 years old, Aanjar is one of Lebanon's newer archaeological sites. The ruins were discovered by accident relatively recently (in 1949).
The Umayyad Dynasty, which flourished for 100 years (660-750 A.D.) in the first century after Muhammed, was the first of two dynasties of the Arab Islamic empire. The Umayyad caliphs were notable for establishing a large empire, which extended from Spain, through North Africa, to Central Asia. They established Arabic as the official language of the empire, and they are remembered in the pages of history for their excellent city administration and planning and their patronage of early Islamic art and architecture.
Thought to be the summer home of Caliph Walid I, Aanjar survived only a few decades before the Umayyads were defeated by their rivals, the Abbasids (who founded the second Arab Islamic dynasty). Aanjar later fell into disrepair and was abandoned.
The city of Aanjar was a major trading and commercial center for the entire region. It was built at a strategic location on the main caravan routes between the inland Umayyad capital of Damascus (Syria) and the coast, close to the abundant spring of Aain Gerrha and near the rich agricultural land of the Békaa. Visitors can still see the remains of over 600 small shops, running along colonnaded boulevards – the ancient equivalent of a modern-day shopping arcade.
The city's wide avenues are also lined with mosques, palaces, baths, storehouses, and residences. The city ruins cover 114,000 square meters and are surrounded by large, fortified stone walls, over two meters thick and seven meters high. The rectangular city design is based on Roman city planning and architecture, with stonework and other features borrowed from the Byzantines. Two large avenues – the 20-meter-wide Cardo Maximus, running north to south, and the Decumanus Maximus, running east to west – divide the city into four quadrants. At the crossroads in the center of the city, four great tetrapylons mark the four corners of the intersection.
As you walk through the ruins of this stone city, marvel at the beautiful stone archways of the city's palace facades… Explore the elaborate Roman-style baths… Duck inside the small residential quarters of the city residents… Search for intricate Greco-Roman-style stone carvings or Umayyad-era graffiti on the stone walls… And imagine yourself transported to this short period in history when the Umayyad caliphs ruled the region and the city bustled with traders en route to the four corners of the globe!

Baalbeck
Most notable for its graceful stone arches and wide arcades, the ruins of Aanjar offer visitors a unique opportunity to step foot upon an ancient Islamic trading hub connecting Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. Situated at the southern end of the Békaa Valley, Aanjar is among the world's few known ruins of the 8th century Umayyad dynasty and is one of the region's only examples of an inland commercial center.
At only 1,300 years old, Aanjar is one of Lebanon's newer archaeological sites. The ruins were discovered by accident relatively recently (in 1949).
The Umayyad Dynasty, which flourished for 100 years (660-750 A.D.) in the first century after Muhammed, was the first of two dynasties of the Arab Islamic empire. The Umayyad caliphs were notable for establishing a large empire, which extended from Spain, through North Africa, to Central Asia. They established Arabic as the official language of the empire, and they are remembered in the pages of history for their excellent city administration and planning and their patronage of early Islamic art and architecture.
Thought to be the summer home of Caliph Walid I, Aanjar survived only a few decades before the Umayyads were defeated by their rivals, the Abbasids (who founded the second Arab Islamic dynasty). Aanjar later fell into disrepair and was abandoned.
The city of Aanjar was a major trading and commercial center for the entire region. It was built at a strategic location on the main caravan routes between the inland Umayyad capital of Damascus (Syria) and the coast, close to the abundant spring of Aain Gerrha and near the rich agricultural land of the Békaa. Visitors can still see the remains of over 600 small shops, running along colonnaded boulevards – the ancient equivalent of a modern-day shopping arcade.
The city's wide avenues are also lined with mosques, palaces, baths, storehouses, and residences. The city ruins cover 114,000 square meters and are surrounded by large, fortified stone walls, over two meters thick and seven meters high. The rectangular city design is based on Roman city planning and architecture, with stonework and other features borrowed from the Byzantines. Two large avenues – the 20-meter-wide Cardo Maximus, running north to south, and the Decumanus Maximus, running east to west – divide the city into four quadrants. At the crossroads in the center of the city, four great tetrapylons mark the four corners of the intersection.
As you walk through the ruins of this stone city, marvel at the beautiful stone archways of the city's palace facades… Explore the elaborate Roman-style baths… Duck inside the small residential quarters of the city residents… Search for intricate Greco-Roman-style stone carvings or Umayyad-era graffiti on the stone walls… And imagine yourself transported to this short period in history when the Umayyad caliphs ruled the region and the city bustled with traders en route to the four corners of the globe!

Batroun
Batroun, gateway to the North
A charming and friendly city located on the Mediterranean coast 50km north of Beirut, Batroun is famous for its Phoenician wall, old souk, and wonderful fresh lemonade. In recent years, it has become the entertainment hub of the North.
The city sits in a triangular shaped plain crossed by the river Nahr el-Jawz. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the foothills of Mount Lebanon to the south and east, and the Ras ech-Chaqa'a plateau to the north. Just northeast of Batroun is the imposing Mussaylha Fort, constructed by Fakhr ed-Dine II high on a strategic limestone rock.
Batroun's location as a gateway to the North makes it an ideal jumping-off point for exploring all that North Lebanon has to offer. The surrounding area has a wealth of historical and cultural sites, including the Phoenician wall and newly-restored souks in Batroun itself; the 17th century Mussaylha Fort; the famous Basbous family sculpture exhibition in nearby Rachana village; and many interesting churches and ruins sites in villages such as Koubba, Kfar Aabida, and Hamat. For those who love the sun, sand, and sea, there are many well-equipped beach resorts stretching along the coast north and south of the city, as well as a variety of restaurants and nightclubs catering to all tastes. Driving inland from Batroun, you will reach the beautiful, rugged mountains around Tannourine, Douma, and Laqlouq, as well as the Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve, which offers opportunities for hiking and natural exploration.

Byblos
Jbail (Byblos): Ancient Crossroads of the Mediterranean
Jbail (Byblos) is a true microcosm of the civilizations that have populated Lebanon over the centuries. Believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the modern port city of Jbail (Byblos) is built upon multiple layers of ruins, dating back to as early as the Stone Age and extending to the more recent Ottoman days. A visit to Jbail (Byblos) is a chance to walk through the annals of Lebanese history and experience firsthand the diverse cultures that have made this area a mosaic of civilizations. Jbail (Byblos) is not simply a picturesque seaside town, but has a history that has been closely tied to the Mediterranean for millennia.
Historians believe that the site of Jbail (Byblos) dates back at least 7,000 years (beginning around 5,000-4,000 B.C.), when a small Neolithic fishing community settled along the shore of the Mediterranean. From that period onward, new settlers brought new ways of life and new customs, leaving a variety of artifacts and the remnants of houses and buildings that trace the city's ancient history. Today's visitors can see the remains of several Stone Age huts with crushed limestone floors, the foundations of Chalcolithic houses (4,500-3,500 B.C.), the vestiges of an Early Bronze Age residence, and the remains of ancient defensive ramparts and temples.
By around 3,000 B.C., Jbail (Byblos) was inhabited by Canaanites, or Phoenicians, and became the first Phoenician city to trade actively with the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Jbail (Byblos) developed into the most important commercial center in the eastern Mediterranean, trading cedar wood, olive oil, and wine for gold, alabaster, papyrus, and other goods from the Egyptian pharaohs. In the royal necropolis at Jbail (Byblos) can be found the nine underground tombs of the Jbail (Byblos) kings.
Perhaps the Phoenicians' most impressive contribution to the world is the development of the first alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of the modern-day alphabet. It is believed that scholars of Jbail (Byblos) developed the Phoenician alphabet. The oldest evidence of the Phoenician alphabet discovered to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Jbail (Byblos) (10th century B.C.), which is now on display at the National Museum in Beirut.
Following the conquest by Alexander the Great, Jbail (Byblos) fell under Greek rule and adopted the Greek language and culture. The Greeks gave the city its name of Jbail (Byblos), which means “papyrus” or “paper.” The city was an important center for trading papyrus, on which many religious texts, public documents, private letters, astronomical, and mathematical texts were written.
In the first century B.C., the Romans took Jbail (Byblos), and constructed large temples, baths, and other buildings. Artifacts of the Roman era include the remains of a Roman theater (218 A.D.), columns lining the ancient colonnaded street, and a Roman nympheum (a monumental public fountain). Roman rule in Jbail (Byblos) was followed by Byzantine rule (399-636 A.D.) and then Arab rule (636-1104 A.D.).There are few archaeological remains of these periods.
In 1104, Jbail (Byblos) was conquered by the Crusaders, who used the large Roman stones and columns to construct their own castle and a moat. This castle was later reused and renovated by the Mamlukes (13th-16th centuries A.D.) and the Ottomans (16th-20th centuries A.D.). Today, the 12th century Crusader castle towers over the Jbail (Byblos) ruins, and climbing to the top of the castle is an excellent vantage point for taking in a panoramic view of the ruins and the Mediterranean Sea.
Before Jbail (Byblos) was excavated in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, these layers of ruins were buried in earth, forming a mound nearly 12 meters high, and covered with houses and gardens. Over the last century, historians have excavated the site, digging through each layer of stone and earth to uncover a unique period of history in this port city.
Modern visitors to Jbail (Byblos) can undertake their own historical excavation here, exploring the layers of ruins and artifacts to unearth the ancient civilizations of Lebanon.

Sidon
Saida (Sidon), on the coast 45 kilometers south of Beirut, is one of the famous names in ancient history. Of all of Lebanon's cities, this is the most mysterious, for its past has been tragically scattered and plundered. In the 19th century, treasure hunters and amateur archaeologists made off with many of its most beautiful and important objects, some of which can now be seen in foreign museums.
In this century too, ancient objects from Saida (Sidon) (Sidoon is the Phoenician name) have turned up on the world's antiquities markets. Other traces of its history lie beneath the concrete of modern constructions, perhaps buried forever. The challenge for today's visitor to Saida (Sidon) is to recapture a sense of this city's ancient glory from the intriguing elements that still survive.
The largest city in south Lebanon, Saida (Sidon) is a busy commercial center with the pleasant, conservative atmosphere of a small town. Since Persian times Saida (Sidon) was known as the city of gardens, and even today it is surrounded by citrus and banana plantations.

Tripoli
Tripoli (Trablous), 85 kilometers north of Beirut, has a special character of its own. Thanks to its historical wealth, relaxed lifestyle, and thriving business climate, this is a city where modern and medieval blend easily into a lively and hospitable metropolis. Known as the capital of the North, Tripoli is Lebanon's second largest city.
Forty-five buildings in the city, many dating from the 14th century, have been registered as historical sites. Twelve mosques from Mamluke and Ottoman times have survived, along with an equal number of madrassas, or theological schools. Secular buildings include the hammam, or bathing-house, which followed the classical pattern of Roman-Byzantine baths, and the khan, or caravansary. The souks, together with the khans, form an agglomeration of various trades where tailors, jewelers, perfumes, tanners, and soap makers work in surroundings that have changed very little over the last 500 years.

Typre
Phoenician Sour (Tyre) was queen of the seas, an island city of unprecedented splendor. She grew wealthy from her far-reaching colonies and her industries of purple-dyed textiles. But she also attracted the attention of jealous conquerors, among them the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great.
There are two major archaeological sites in the town that can be seen today. The Al-Bass Site consists of an extensive necropolis, a three bay monumental arch, and one of the largest hippodromes ever found. All date from the 2nd century A.D to the 6th century A.D. The City Site, located on what was originally the Phoenician island city, is a vast district of civic buildings, colonnades, public baths, mosaics, streets, and a rectangular arena.

Discover the Békaa
A vast, open valley nestled in the east between Lebanon's two mountain ranges, the Békaa Valley has been known since ancient times as the "bread basket of Lebanon." The Valley is a checkerboard of fields, dotted with small villages - a testament of the region's agricultural heritage. Here you will find a center of Lebanese gastronomy, with a number of wineries producing world-renowned Lebanese wines, and an array of local restaurants with mouth-watering Lebanese cuisine.
The Békaa Valley might also be known as a "corridor of civilizations." Throughout ancient history, the Valley was a thoroughfare for commerce, a meeting point for major trading routes connecting Damascus with the coast and the Arabian Peninsula to more northern regions. The many impressive archaeological ruins in the Valley reflect its historical role as a crossroads for the civilizations that have inhabited the area over time.

 

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