Baalbek, Lebanon: a Photo Journal 37

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baalbek map in lebanon

Baalbek = middle right

Baalbek is close to the northernmost part of the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, an area that is probably most recognizable to American readers vaguely as one of the locations of constant fighting in decades gone by during the various Lebanese “situations,” as they call them over here.

For me, it will always be a valley of good wine and one of the most amazing Roman ruins on the planet.

Baalbek, know as Heliopolis during the Roman period, was one of the most important cities in the region. During the reign of Augustus (1st century BCE), the three temples that make up the impressive complex were built to honor Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus.

Yes, there is a Temple of Bacchus, the god of wine. Even better, it is the only surviving temple dedicated to Bacchus surviving anywhere in the world today.

So if you are a wine lover, Baalbek is a must see location, in my book.

Baalbek is a truly impressive site. It sits right in the middle of the modern town, in fact, my hostel and morning breakfast location had balconies that immediately overlooked the grounds. The surviving structures are in quite good shape.

I love ruins (more on that reasoning in an upcoming post), but Baalbek is one of the better ones I have seen anywhere, right up there with Jerash in Jordan and Palmyra in Syria, which is the subject of another upcoming photo journal.

O’ yea, and another bonus to checking out ruins in countries that people incorrectly think are too dangerous to travel to… there was not a soul on the grounds for the first hour I was there. Later about 4-5 people showed up. I bet there weren’t 20 visitors the entire day.

Temple of Bacchus Baalbek Lebanon

Temple of Bacchus. I knelt down and said a little prayer šŸ˜‰

baalbek ruins with snow mountains

the remaining facade of the Temple of Jupiter, with snow capped mountains...

pillars of Temple of Jupiter with lion

the remaining columns at the Temple of Jupiter with cool lion

inside view great courtyard baalbek

view of the great courtyard area inside

view from hotel room baalbek lebanon

view from the balcony of my hotel room

Jupiter temple steps Baalbek

Temple of Jupiter to the right, up the steps, great courtyard in front of you

graffiti baalbek ruins lebanon

some graffiti on the ruins

michael hodson baalbek lebanon

me, about to pray to Bacchus

kids playing in baalbek ruins

kids playing in the ruins

writing close up on ruins on Baalbek Lebanon

how cool is it that you can still read the writing?

main steps Temple of Jupiter Baalbek

main steps of the Temple of Jupiter


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About Michael Hodson

Iā€™m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

37 thoughts on “Baalbek, Lebanon: a Photo Journal

  • Jeremy Branham

    Beautiful ruins! Reminds me of the Forum in Rome. Really want to visit Lebanon! I’d never heard of this area but really want to visit because I met someone who lives there a few years ago.

    In your time there, what have you thought of the area from a safety standpoint? Are Americans/Westerners well received?

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      They love Westerners in the Middle East. I have gotten amazing receptions in every country.

  • Sunee

    Those are some pretty awesome ruins! I must say, following your Middle Eastern adventures have really given me a new perspective on the area. Will definitely consider it for future trips…

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Really glad to have put the Middle East more on your personal map. Great location for travel.

  • Katherina

    Looks amazing! I feel bad for not visiting these ruins while I was in Lebanon… I wish I’d read this before going!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Awwww, I almost hate pointing out how great they are if you were there and didn’t get a chance to see them. šŸ™

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      the whole Med area is fabulous and frankly I need to get out and see a lot more of it soon!

  • Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    Shouldn’t you look more festive if you are worshiping Bacchus? lol. Great photos! Looks like a beautiful destination. I’m impressed that there are so many Greco-Roman ruins in the Middle East. Makes you realize how far-flung the empire was.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      LOL, I know. I hate photos of myself and doing it on a timer with the camera lying on the ground and running over was a bit hectic.

  • Vera Marie Badertscher

    This is really attractive–in the magnet pulling me toward the Middle East meaning of attractive. Thanks for sharing your photos and letting me know about one more reason to go to the Middle East.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Glad to be a slight bit more pushing you to go there. It is a great spot in the world.

  • Juno

    Some great shots here! Frankly, I didn’t know much about Lebanon but I’m seeing more and more about this place. Looks amazing.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Thanks for the complement on the photos — it was pretty easy to be good in this part of the world. šŸ™‚

  • Giulia

    At this rate you’ll find me at the Bacchus temple soon :p
    Everyone keeps telling me “you should go to Lebanon!” – yes, I have to, looks so beautiful!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      well, we should get a group, bring some wine and have a toast on the steps!

  • Christine

    I’m a sucker for ruins too. The balcony views from your hostel and cafe must have been amazing!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      it was so cool to be right there, next to the ruins, in my $8 a night room.

  • Randy

    Wines, uncrowded ruins and clear blue skies. Does it get any better than this? Excellent job on this photo journal!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Coming from you, with your photo skills… high praise indeed. Thanks!

  • Leigh

    That’s a gorgeous set of photos on a beautiful looking day. What a treat not to be surrounded with tourists.
    Have you tried the wine from Chateau Musar? – though I hear there are some up and coming wineries producing excellent wines. Those would be worth schleping back home.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I don’t think I had one of those, but I’d have to check my notes. The notes, of course, start quite legible and then…..

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I know, the solitude was really fabulous. More on that topic in another ruin post soon.

  • Dave and Deb

    Wow! Now that is an impressive Roman Ruin. You sold me. Wine and Ruins, I’m there! I don’t really know a lot about Lebanon, so I am really glad that you are sharing your travels through the Middle East. We can’t wait to explore it further.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I really need to get off my lazy butt and write about a few of the reasons I love them soon

  • Suzanne

    Hello Michael,

    I am glad you got to see Baalbek Roman ruins. I grew up in bekaa valley. I traveled a lot to see ruins all over the globe. Baalbek is by far my favorite. But that could be because it has sentimental value too. I hope you went to the town of Zahle and tasted the wine. It has great wine not to mention the town is one of the most beautiful towns in Lebanon. Hence, it is nicknamed the bride of the Bekaa valley.

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