Baalbek, Lebanon

A Tour of Baalbek - September 21-24, 2005

Section 1 - The Grand Entrance

E. L. Nebrija

Kaftoun.com

Baalbek Location

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Located in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, Baalbek is an ancient city that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally Canaanite (3rd century BC), the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs successively occupied Ba’albek and left their imprints on the place, often modifying what existed previously.

Baalbek - Jupiter Temple Columns

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The 22-m high columns of the Jupiter Temple dwarf the 7.5-m high columns of Athens’ Acropolis.

Largest Stone in the World

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The Stone of Midi (or Hajar al Hubal, “stone of the pregnant woman”), about 5 km SE of the temples is the largest cut stone in the world, weighing almost 1 million kilograms.

Largest Stone in the World

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Left: Roman limestone quarry shows the rectangular blocks of limestone left from the quarrying.

Below: A souvenir store beside the quarry.

Holy Precinct of Ba’albek (Heliopolis)

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LEGEND:

  1. Propylaea (Semi-circular entrance)
  2. Hexagonal Court
  3. Great Court (with large and small altar)
  4. Temple of Jupiter
  5. Temple of Bacchus
  6. Arab fortifications and mosque
  7. South Arab Tower
  8. Temple of Venus and Muses

Reconstruction of Ba’albek

Prophlaea (Forecourt)

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The “wall” near the entrance to the temple grounds used to be open, but the space between the columns (marked by Corinthian capitals) has been filled in with stone blocks when the temple was fortified during the Crusades. Thus, the finish of the stones is crude.

Propylaea (Forecourt)

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Grand Entrance

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The columns of the Grand Entrance are made of pink granite, from Aswan in Egypt.

Grand Entrance Stairs

Grand Entrance

The stairs have been removed during the Crusades, but have been rebuilt partially (not as wide as before). The stairs in the temple complex are always odd numbered (this one has 51 steps) so that when you first step with the right foot, you will also land with the right foot at the top.

Marian Eberle and Wendy Nebrija.

Grand Entrance Granite Columns

Grand Entrance Granite Columns

The granite columns have been taken and used to build the Koubbat Douris at the entrance of Baalbek and the Grand Mosque of Baalbek. Emperor Constantine used some of them to build the Hagia Sofia in Constantinople, Theodosius tore them out to build the basilica of St. Peter in the Great Courtyard, while Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent transported them to build his mosque in Istanbul. The rest were felled by the earthquakes of 521 and 551 AD.

Baalbek - Index