Discovering Lebanon

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Lebanon is not only a country with a recent history of conflict and violence, is fundamentally an Arabic beautiful country between the Mediterranean and the Syrian – Lebanese rugged mountains, plenty of sites with thousands of years of history, landscapes of great beauty and extraordinary people hospital.

Only 40 kilometers from Beirut is the city of Byblos, one of the oldest cities in the world, inhabited for five millennia. Its medieval old town center, fully renovated, it offers built fortifications that the Crusaders during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A walk through the walls, watching the sea and the old stone buildings, we are easily transported to the days of Saladin. Given that we are in a coastal area, there is nothing better to complete the day that a good portion of seafood in front of the port of fishermen, washed down with a good bottle of excellent Lebanese wine.

Also at the coast is Saida, the ancient Sidon, successively inhabited by Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Mamelukes. One of its most distinctive buildings is Marine Castle, a fortress of the Crusaders, now in ruins, which enters the sea via a bridge of solid sandstone.

Near Saida Tyr we will find the old Tire, founded in the year 2700 BC. Like other cities in the region, was desired by all and conquered the empires of the Mediterranean, but today the most recent invasion, the Israeli continues to generate some tension in the city, where party Hizbullah is supported by most of citizenship. The most interesting is the beautiful avenue Tyr Roman Al-Mina, at the lake, paved with slabs of marble and flanked by slender columns.

Tripoli is also required if the destinations you travel to Lebanon. Its old town is worth a visit steeped in paused to allow its dynamic street life. Tripoli – “Tarabulus” in Arabic, offers a variegated and evocative architecture, the result of mixing between the buildings of the Crusaders, the Fatimids and the Ottoman Empire. One example of this fusion of forms and styles is Abdul Nasser Square, in downtown Tripoli.

In this city stands the famous fortress which commanded the powerful cross erected next to the river Saint Gilles Abu Ali. The fort was carried at first by the Arabs in the seventh century, the Fatimids added centuries later a mosque. With the arrival in the twelfth century of Raymond de Saint Gilles, Count of Toulouse, the fortress was expanded and the old mosque became a Christian church. Again in Muslim hands from the thirteenth century, was extended again by Prince Al-Kurdi Mamelouk Asandamor.

We left Tripoli to get into the Bekaa valley, surrounded by high mountains covered with fertile crops. There sits the small town of Baalbek. People live in this region of fields and livestock, although the town are among the most important Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.

Several temples of around 2000 years old make up the ancient city of Baalbek, among which the great temple dedicated to Jupiter, of which only a few columns and an impressive propylaeum. The first row of the platform that held the temple contains some of the largest stone blocks ever transported around the world.

Best preserved is the temple erected in honor of Bacchus. Their sizes are bunches of grapes that recall the orgiastic rituals that were celebrated in honor of the god of wine, food continues to grow in the vineyards in the Bekaa Valley.

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