Baalbek – a Roman Heliopolis

We had spent the morning watching cedars and the rest of the day Roman stones. The last stop for the day was the city of Baalbek. This former Roman Heliopolis boasts two of the largest temple ruins. The temple of Bacchus and the Jupiter temple. No wonder this temple complex is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

the first gate to the Jupiter temple @Baalbek

the second courtyard before the Jupiter temple @Baalbek

what’s left of the Jupiter temple @Baalbek

To understand the dimensions of the Jupiter temple a bit better, please note that these pillars are 19.9 meters high and have a frieze of another five meter on top. This architectural feat alone is impressive. But also the three monolith building stones which are part of the wall below the temple which are making me speechless.

the size of this monolith is unbelievable @Baalbek

An even bigger one lies apparently in a quarry nearby with a weight of 1000 tons. I mean how was that even possible at the time of this construction. I remember our guide telling us that construction stopped in the early 4th century. How is that all humanly possible without heavy equipment? Interesting tidbit, in the 6th century some of the columns were dissembled and Justinian shipped them to Constantinople for the construction of the Hagia Sophia. For forward thinking already at this time and age.

Across from the Jupiter temple is the temple for Bacchus the god of wine. I don’t know what he did to deserve that his temple is still standing. Here I have a picture with people on it, so the dimensions are easier to understand. If you look closely you should on the right side below the temple two persons.

Bacchus temple @Baalbek

Walking through the area the sheer size of everything overwhelms you. But then the guide explained that we also have to look at the smaller details. The roman craftsmen not only chiselled the decorations out of the stone but did in such a way, that even today we still marvel at this level of detail. Look for example at these flowers. They are so delicately carved that you can put the handle of your sunglasses through the holes behind them.

stone carving detail @Baalbek

Or check out the lion which guards the temple wall of Jupiter. The amount of detail that went into his features and the decorations around him, are marvellous. And all of this in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. I wonder if buildings from our time will even last a 100 years. Yours, Pollybert

the lion head guards the temple wall of Jupiter @Baalbek

Let me know what you think

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