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Lebanon: Byblos

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Byblos > Lebanon > Asia

[Visited: August 2003]

Byblos, called Gebal in the Bible, Jbail in Lebanon, takes its name from the Greek word for papyrus, because it was an important trading post for that commodity in Greek times. Now, there is a small port which mainly harbours fisherboats. The history of Byblos can be traced back some 7000 years, during the Neolithic period. Ever since, it has been inhabited by Phoenicians, Persians, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Byzantines, Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottomans. Byblos then became less important, and now is a quiet town some 40 kilometres north of Beyrut.

Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Byblos: Balaat Gebal temple

The ruins are a collection of no less than 17 different cultures, remains of neolithic dwellings a mere stone's throw from the Roman theatre, the Crusaders castle just on top of tombs of emperors of Egyptian times. Sometimes, one layer is built on top of another. Within minutes, you can visit an underground royal tomb around 4000 years old, the reconstructed Roman theatre, dramatically on top of a cliff with views of the Mediterranean, and the neolithic huts of around 5000 BCE. From all spots, you can see contrasting modern buildings on the hills leading to the Mt. Lebanon range.

Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Remains of city wall, Byblos

Roman Corinthian columns, proudly poiting towards the sky, lead up to the temple of Balaat Gebal, the Lady of Byblos, behind which you can find the King's Well. Here was, since neolithic times, a spring, the source of water for Byblos and probably one of the reasons Byblos was able to survive all those centuries. From here, you can then visit the obelisk temple, the ancient city gate, and the Crusader's Castle. This gives you a good vantage point to overview all the ruins, and the remains of the enormously thick city wall.

Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Ruins of Byblos
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Sarcophagus in necropolis, Byblos
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Roman theatre at Byblos
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Detail of old wall, Byblos
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Byblos: remains of old settlement
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Old Byblos with modern Byblos in background
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): King's Well, Byblos
Picture of Byblos (Lebanon): Temple of Obelisks, Byblos

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