Image Gallery

Lebanon

Lebanon is a small but strategically important country that is religiously complex and diverse but well worth a trip. Bordered by Syria, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, this little country can be entered overland from Syria and by air but there are no overland routes from Israel or any flights as the two states are not on speaking terms. Officially known as the Republic of Lebanon, this country has extremely interesting ancient and modern history that can easily fill a week. Having fought a bloody civil war through the 80's, the capital Beirut still shows some serious signs of conflict, with sectarian issues periodically flaring up. In saying that, most Lebanese are extremely friendly and welcoming. Ensure you visit the temple of Baalbek, cruise the scene in Beirut and stroll the harbour at Byblos. If you can only focus on a couple of places, go to Beirut, then follow that with whichever sites up and down the coast you want to see, almost all are accessible as a day trip.

Baalbek
Beirut
Byblos
Qadisha Valley

Image Gallery

Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley
Holiday Inn, Beirut, Lebanon
Holiday Inn, Beirut
Baalbek Backflip, Lebanon
Baalbek Backflip
Byblos Harbour, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
Streets of Tripoli, Lebanon
Streets of Tripoli
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Beirut, Lebanon
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Beirut
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek
Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley
Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock, Beirut
Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek
Tripoli Citadel, Lebanon
Tripoli Citadel
Beirut Waterfront, Lebanon
Beirut Waterfront
Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley
Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek
Byblos Harbour, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter, Lebanon
Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Lebanon
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
Pigeon Rocks from the Beirut Waterfront, Lebanon
Pigeon Rocks from the Beirut Waterfront
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley
Byblos Crusader Castle, Lebanon
Byblos Crusader Castle
Military Base, Beirut, Lebanon
Military Base, Beirut
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek
Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek
Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley
Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon
Haigazian University, Beirut
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley
Pigeons Rock Backflip, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock Backflip, Beirut
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek
Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut
Beirut Sunset, Lebanon
Beirut Sunset
Saint George Maronite Cathedral, Beirut, Lebanon
Saint George Maronite Cathedral, Beirut
Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos
Byblos Crusader Castle, Lebanon
Byblos Crusader Castle
Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos
Tripoli Citadel, Lebanon
Tripoli Citadel
Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court, Baalbek
Temple of Bacchus Backflip, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus Backflip, Baalbek
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek
Byblos Harbour, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley

Baalbek

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Entrance to Baalbek site, Baalbek, Lebanon
Entrance to Baalbek site
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Pillars and Ruins, Baalbek, Lebanon
Pillars and Ruins

Baalbek, known as Heliopolis in ancient times, is the best preserved and largest Roman Temple structure in the world, outside of Rome. Located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, some 1100m above sea level, Heliopolis means city of the sun. Baalbek was inhabited by the Phoenicians, Greeks and then taken to new levels by the Romans. It was a religiously important location for all the peoples who lived there and was a place of pilgrimage for many during ancient times. Once under Roman control, construction was stepped up to a grand scale, outdoing any ancient city, even Rome itself at that time. The temples are simply staggering in their size and grandeur, with intricate relieves and pagan scenes carved into the remaining structures. The original Temple of Jupiter only has six remaining Corinthian columns but they are massive and comparable in size only to what you can see in the Egyptian Temple of Karnak. A number of these columns were robbed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian for the Hagia Sofia in modern day Istanbul. The most impressive part of Baalbek is the still-intact Temple of Bacchus, which has solid walls on all sides and nineteen standing Corinthian columns. The temple dominates the site measuring 66 metres long by 35 metres wide and 30 metres tall. There are reliefs and carvings of the life of the god Bacchus still seen on the temple. The Roman god Bacchus was the god of wine and, thus, residents and visitors of Baalbek worshipped this god with massive ceremonies that often turned into wild orgies of wine and sex. Strangely enough Baalbek was one of the last locations in the Roman Empire that converted to Christianity and, reportedly, it took threat of force for them to stop worshipping their pagan gods. Due to Baalbek's location in the Hezbollah controlled Bekaa valley, there are no bus tours and very few visitors venture to this monumental piece of history. This fact gives visitors the rare opportunity of exploring one of the most impressive and important pieces of the Roman Empire in a pristine and unspoiled setting. The only hassle you will receive from locals is to buy a bright yellow Hezbollah t-shirt or a faded postcard. A trip to Lebanon without seeing Baalbek would be a travesty of the highest degree. Don't let what you read in the news keep you away from this amazing place.

Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Panoramic view from the Great Court of Baalbek, left side is the Temple of Bacchus and middle is the Temple of Jupiter
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
View from the ruins of Baalbek of the Bekka Valley and Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
View of the Temple of Bacchus from the Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter Remains, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter Remains
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Temple of Bacchus and Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus and Temple of Jupiter
Baalbek Backflip, Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek Backflip
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Near the Entrance, Baalbek, Lebanon
Near the Entrance
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter and the Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter and the Great Court
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
View from the Entrance Structures of the ruins at Baalbek, Lebanon
View from the Entrance Structures of the ruins at Baalbek
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Near Entrance, Baalbek, Lebanon
Near Entrance
Temple of Jupiter Steps, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter Steps
Team Leaders, Baalbek, Lebanon
Team Leaders
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range, Baalbek, Lebanon
Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
The Great Court, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Great Court
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Temple of Bacchus
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus, Baalbek, Lebanon
Right the remains of the Temple of Jupiter, Left the remains of the Temple of Bacchus

Beirut

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Beirut, Lebanon
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Holiday Inn Hotel, also known as the snipers nest, Beirut, Lebanon
Holiday Inn Hotel, also known as the snipers nest
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock

Beirut is a vibrant Mediterranean city with a recent history of turmoil, suffering and religious diversity. The city is first mentioned as a city of some standing in Egyptian records around 1500 BC. It has been continuously inhabited since at least that time. Beirut is the capital and the largest city in Lebanon and still shows scars from the brutal civil war that raged from 1975 to 1991. Beyrouth, the city's name in French, is in a period of rebuilding with derelict, bullet-ridden buildings standing side by side featuring new, shiny glass covered structures. Continued clashes with Israel, led by the self-proclaimed freedom fighter group Hezbollah, and a political process that remains stagnant and paralyzed due to religious and sectarian differences continue to stop the city (and Lebanon itself) from recovering completely. This thriving city is a diverse mix of nine major religious communities: Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Protestant, Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim and Druze. Even with this melting pot of differences, Beirut was often referred to as the Paris of the Med in its glory days in the 1950's and 60's. As of 2009, it was regaining some of that previous prominence when the city was rated in the top 10 liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet, indicating recovery is well on its way. Today, visitors will find a large part of the city is an oasis of personal freedom and western ideas found nowhere else in the Middle East. Where headscarves and conservative dress is the norm in most countries in the region, Beirut has women walking along the promenade freely in tank tops, billboards promoting Levi jeans and perfume, and every fast food restaurant open for business. Travelling to Beirut is an experience that offers outstanding hospitality from locals, great nightlife, and an interesting look at a city that seems to be the battleground for regional conflicts. Almost any place within Lebanon can be done as a day trip from Beirut, making the city a great base for exploring the country.

Beirut Army Base, Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut Army Base
Beirut Sunset, Lebanon
Beirut Sunset
Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon
Haigazian University
View from Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
View from Pigeons Rock
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, Beirut, Lebanon
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock
Bullet Ridden Building, Beirut, Lebanon
Bullet Ridden Building
Pigeons Rock Backflip, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock Backflip
Downtown Beirut, Lebanon
Downtown Beirut
Saint George Maronite Cathedral, Beirut, Lebanon
Saint George Maronite Cathedral
Beirut Sunset, Lebanon
Beirut Sunset
Holiday Inn, Beirut, Lebanon
Holiday Inn
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock
Beirut Waterfront, Lebanon
Beirut Waterfront
Beirut Sunset, Lebanon
Beirut Sunset
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock
Downtown Beirut, Lebanon
Downtown Beirut
Pigeons Rock, Beirut, Lebanon
Pigeons Rock

Byblos

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
Byblos Crusader Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Crusader Castle
Byblos Harbour, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour

Byblos is a small Mediterranean city on the coast of Lebanon north of Beirut. Jubayl, Byblos in Arabic, is believed to date back as far as 6230 BC, making it one of the contenders for the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The small city has extensive history and provides archeologists with layer upon layer of debris and material to sort through and analyze. It is reported to have been the first major city in Phoenicia and later grew wealthy, acting as the middle man for exporting papyrus from Egypt to the scholars of ancient Greece and the Mediterranean. Successive empires have taken the city over its long history. It remained a prized asset up until the Ottoman era when it slowly transformed back to a sleepy harbour town. Byblos is an easy day trip from Beirut and offers a much more laid back and easy going atmosphere than the hectic pace of the big city. Byblos has a picturesque harbour set behind a natural sandstone shelf that has provided excellent fishing for centuries. Locals still fish off this shelf in the same way people have done for thousands of years. There is also a crusader castle built out of limestone that still survives and the remains of a Roman structure that once stood on this location. No longer the bustling port city it was in antiquity, the small town now promotes tourism and offers visitors a glimpse of a Mediterranean way of life that has remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years.

View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
Fisherman, Byblos, Lebanon
Fisherman
Byblos Harbour, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Castle
Sandstone Shelf, Byblos, Lebanon
Sandstone Shelf
Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Castle
Byblos Harbour, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
Fishing on Sandstone Shelf, Byblos, Lebanon
Fishing on Sandstone Shelf
View from Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
View from Byblos Castle
Byblos Castle, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Castle
Fishermen, Byblos, Lebanon
Fishermen
Tide Pool, Byblos, Lebanon
Tide Pool
Fishing on Sandstone Shelf, Byblos, Lebanon
Fishing on Sandstone Shelf
Byblos Harbour, Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos Harbour
 

Qadisha Valley

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

View from village of Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
View from village of Bcharre
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Bcharre
Cave in Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Cave in Qadisha Valley

The Qadisha Valley is a breathtaking gorge in the mountains of Northern Lebanon that offers keen hikers stunning vista views, caves to explore, and remote monasteries where hermits practiced a life of chastity and isolation. Also spelled Kadisha, which means "holy" in Aramaic, the valley is a deep gorge carved by the strong Qadisha river over millenia that has created sheer cliffs where Christian monastic communities thrived for hundreds of years. During the Lebanese civil war, this area was a bastion of resistance to the Christian miltias and religious groups. Hiking through this gorge is an easy task on the way down, but if you're not willing to walk the length of the gorge, which can easily take a whole day, the hike back up is a heart pounding experience. At the summit of the gorge, near the Christian town of Bcharre, are the prized ancient cedar trees of Lebanon. These trees were at one time the most highly prized building materials of the ancient world. Now they are an important iconic image to the Lebanese, even being displayed on their national flag. A lot of the scenery through the Middle East can be scrubland or barren desert and rock, however this plush valley offers a welcome change with thick forests and snow capped peaks.

Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Cave, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Cave, Qadisha Valley
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Bcharre, Qadisha Valley
Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Tripoli, Lebanon
Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Tripoli
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley
Tripoli Old Town, Lebanon
Tripoli Old Town
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Qadisha Valley Caves, Lebanon
Qadisha Valley Caves
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Monastery, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Monastery, Qadisha Valley
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Valley Trail View, Qadisha Valley
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley, Lebanon
Burning Bus, Qadisha Valley