Another day, another adventure. On this particular occasion, I had to get up extremely early to catch a tour to Baalbek, which lies just on the border with Syria. The tour had 4 stops, the first one being:
Located in the Bekaa Valley it has a population consisting almost entirely of Armenians. We specifically went to the archeological site formerly known as Gerrha, a stronghold built by Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abdel Malek in the 8th century. The present-day name derives from Arabic Ayn Gerrha, or “source of Gerrha”. The ruins have been recognized as a World Heritage Site.
Since Lebanon has had settlements from so many different civilizations, archeologists must choose just exactly which “layer” to uncover. In anjars case, they chose the Umayyad civilization. It is an example of an inland commercial center, at the crossroads of two important routes: one leading from Beirut to Damascus and the other crossing the Bekaa and leading from Homs to Tiberiade. The site of this ancient city was only discovered by archaeologists at the end of the 1940s. Excavations revealed a fortified city surrounded by walls and flanked by forty towers. I learned that a lot of guesswork has to go in rebuilding these sites. This was most evident by the different size walls that you can see in the black and white photos. It was a particularly hot day
The Stone of the Pregnant Woman
We reached Baalbek a few hours later. The first stop was an ancient quarry that holds the so-called Stone of the pregnant woman.Together with another ancient stone block nearby, it is among the largest monoliths ever quarried. The two building blocks were probably intended for use in a nearby temple for the god Jupiter. This stone and others, however, never made it out of the quarry, probably because they turned out to be much too massive to transport. It weighs approximately 1,240 tons
Finally, we reached the Roman complex under a scorching heat. It is the largest Roman ruin in the world. It contains 3 temples for Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus. The sheer size is truly impressive. The rectangular Great Court to its west covers around 3 or 4 acres and included the main altar for burnt offering, with mosaic-floored lustration basins to its north and south, a subterranean chamber, and three underground passageways0
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