Baalbeck – The Best Roman Ruins Ever

Calling Baalbeck the best Roman ruins ever may be a bit crude, after all these are the remnants of a once powerful empire so it seems somewhat untactful to glorify their demise.

Roman Ruins of Baalbek

The impressive entrance and fore court to the Roman Ruins of Baalbeck in Lebanon

 

But you can’t blame me. Many local businesses survive off of tourists visiting Ephesus in Turkey or the Colosseum in Rome, so why shouldn’t Baalbeck be any different?

Baalbeck?, you ask. You mean you’ve never heard of this place? Sorry, some people spell it Baalbek. Still not familiar?

Staircase at Baalbeck

Staircase at the entrance to the Baalbeck Ruins

 

Well, it is quite simply, the most impressive site of ruins I’ve seen anywhere. It’s not in Italy, Greece, nor Turkey. These ruins of greatness are found in eastern Lebanon.

Sorry Europe, sorry Italy – the best Roman ruins aren’t even on your continent.

Baalbek Ruins in Lebanon

Roman Ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon

 

What makes Baalbeck stand out isn’t one particular structure, it is the enormity of the overall complex that remains intact, more or less.

Great Court viewed from Temple of Jupiter

The Great Court viewed from the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbeck

 

From an impressive staircase and forecourt to the immense six pillars of the Temple of Jupiter, the ruins of Baalbeck spark the imagination of even the most weary tourist. Envisioning the hustle and bustle of Roman life from centuries ago isn’t hard as towering structures are found all across the great central court.

Six Columns of the Temple of Jupiter

The Six Columns of the Temple of Jupiter

 

Intricately carved pillars and stones lie about, some depicting human scenes, others great lion heads. You can picture merchants, scholars and all sorts of people moving about the ruins of this once great city, well at least I can!

Bacchus Temple

The columned Bacchus Temple at the Baalbeck Ruins

 

One of the most well kept buildings is the Temple of Bacchus. An impressive columned structure that now serves as the dramatic backdrop to the Baalbeck International Festival, a special outdoor concert series put on once a year in Lebanon, which draws top talent from around the world to perform in front of the ruins.

Temple of Bacchus

A close up view of the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbeck

 

All this history packed together. Buildings beside buildings. Not just a temple or an outdoor theatre, but an entire collection of ruins that you’re free to wander about. Adding to the charm is that the current city of Baalbeck has a very rugged, old charm to it as well, that somehow blends in with the old ruins in the middle of their town.

Six Columns viewed from Temple of Bacchus

The Six Columns of the Temple of Jupiter viewed from the Temple of Bacchus

 

If you come here looking to be awed by a singularly impressive building, then you may be dissappointed. It’s a ‘city of ruins’ that has to be appreciated as a whole. I shall keep exploring, but as of yet – I haven’t yet found a place of ruins that is of more interest than Baalbeck.

Lion Head Carving at Baalbeck

A Lion Head Carving, one of many intricately carved blocks at Baalbeck

 

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About Red Hunt

A former journalist and business analyst that now works in the world of travel marketing. Based in Toronto, Red Hunt has travelled to more than 40 countries over the past 10 years. You can follow Red on Twitter @redhunttravel.