Baalbeck, Lebanon's greatest Roman treasure, can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. The largest and most noble Roman temples ever built, they are also among the best preserved. Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome.
The gods worshipped here, the Triad of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.
Over the centuries Baalbeck's monuments suffered from theft, war, and earthquakes, as well as from numerous medieval additions. Fortunately, the modern visitor can see the site in something close to its original form thanks to working in the past hundred years by German, French and Lebanese archaeologists.
Baalbeck is located on two main historic trade routes, one between the Mediterranean coast and the Syrian interior and the other between northern Syria and northern Palestine. Today the city, 85 kilometers from Beirut, is an important administrative and economic center in the northern Beqaa valley. (MiddleEast.com)