Baalbeck and the Bekaa Valley
Saturday 12th June 2010
Baalbeck is one of the most ancient cities of the world, first built as a centre for pagan worship to the God of the Sun, Baal, then the Helios of the Greeks (when it was renamed Heliopolis) and later the Roman God Jupiter. The building of Baalbeck went on over 10 generations and is said to have cost the lives of 100,000 slaves.
The Bacchus Temple, the most complete remains of a temple we have seen – it actually has walls!
After a fascinating but long and hot morning, we set off for a winery in the Bekaa Valley for some tasting. At an altitude of 1,000 metres, the Bekaa valley enjoys its own micro climate in which vines do well. Although it has long, hot summers, it maintains its own water table as a result of snow melting off the nearby mountains. We arrived at the Caves de Ksara, and were given a guided tour which included going down into the cellars carved out of the rock, where the air temperature is naturally cool. Later we enjoyed trying a variety of their wines (well, we weren’t driving!), and although pleasant enough, we felt the prices were a little high for our budget.
Bottles and barrels stored below ground in the cool.
Cellars carved into the rock. To keep us out...or somebody in?!
The long drive back was again interesting, as it gave us an opportunity to see more of the country, and the reminders of its recent unsettled past.
An armoured car, now a piece of modern art. Some sort of checkpoint, but we weren’t going that way.
A well-kept mosque. Many signs of rebuilding left unfinished.