We had already been to Lebanon a few years earlier, but back then we only had enough time to pay a flying visit to Baalbek (which is admittedly the historical site to see in Lebanon). This time we came from Damascus and wanted to stay for some ten days. (Incidentally, the road our servees (that's a shared taxi) took was bombed into oblivion about a month later by the Israelis… a sombering thought.)
- Well, this is Baalbek. The temple is the relatively small but rather well-preserved temple of Bacchus. As the tiny figures of visitors between the columns show the temple is small only if compared to the huge Jupiter temple of which not much is left.
- To be more exact, these six columns and the base are left. The columns are truly awesome: the photo doesn't do them justice and the temple must have been overwhelming.
- More ruins. Baalbeek is megalomania on a serious scale.
- Here is one of the stone lions which were part of the upper frieze around the Jupiter temple. This specific lion has an opening so that rain water could escape… the face behind is Vero's.
- Once again the six Jupiter columns, this time in the evening sun. The Baalbek ruins are pretty well-visited during the day but after 5pm we had the place almost to ourselves. It was a strange atmosphere… the darkness descending on these huge remains of another age and I, as I often do, reflecting that in another 1000 years people will visit the remains of our great buildings and ponder exactly the same thoughts. (Well, maybe not: building quality tends to be so shoddy nowadays that perhaps there's not much left to contemplate…)
- This is an old colonial house in Tripoli. We liked this town much much more than Beirut. The latter is in parts still a ghost city and the traces of its violent past are visible everywhere. (Taking photographs of any ruins is strictly prohibited though and there are enough dark-skinned men with Ray-Bans and submachine guns hanging around to make sure you don't use your camera.)
- One of the famous Cedars of Lebanon… of which not many are left. In fact, these trees were the main reason why we did visit Lebanon a second time: Vero was adamant that she had to see these trees. Well, they're indeed cedars, they look nice enough, but they seemed a bit artificial (not to say lost) as most of the remaining species are in a sort of reservation. In all fairness, the countryside, the mountain scenery thereabouts is very beautiful. We climbed a pretty high mountain and though it was June, there was still a lot of snow on the upper reaches.
- This is Bsharre, one of the main towns of the Maronites. The coast is mainly populated by Muslims whereas the mountains are firmly in Christian hands. If you talk to the two groups you quickly get a feeling why there has been so much trouble in the country and why there is more to come.
- And once more we head back to Syria: the north
$updated from: Lebanon 1.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:14:23 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$