City of the Sun Lay in Ruins-Fabled City Episode 9

Aqaba- My latest Fabled City episode takes you though both ancient and present day Baalbek in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa valley. Today is the area is more known as a Hezbollah stronghold and an area of illicit narcotics production. But this video focuses primarily on the glory of Rome in the east when Baalbek was known as Heliopolis. This video has a longer running time than my previous efforts but I felt this place deserved this much attention. I am fascinated with the idea that so much about Baalbek remains shrouded in mystery, lost to history. Earthquakes, wars, vandals. This city/site has seen a lot over nearly two thousand years.

Baalbek in all its dilapidated glory. ©2023 Derek Henry Flood

I’d been wanting to visit Baalbek after a photographer friend in the late 1990s told me about the megalithic blocks underneath the Temple of Jupiter. He wondered aloud if they giant carved stones were built by an earlier civilisation and if the Romans had simple added to it with their temples to what were essentially Greek gods absorbed into the Roman pantheon. He thought that perhaps the Phoenicians were megalith builders before the region came under Roman rule. I tend to think the more likely , yet still unproven explanation, might be that th Romans went through a megalithic phase that abruptly ended.

Finally visiting the Temple of Bacchus was a form of closure in a sense. I’d meant to come here in previous travels to Lebanon but got too caught up in doings in Beirut and never ventured out here.

Coming to this place it its tumbledown splendour while Lebanon is undergoing multiple plights (refugees, currency implosion, faltering power grid) reinforced my experience that there is never a ‘good’ or ‘right’ time to visit the country. For there is always some sort of crisis occurring of one sort or another it seems, at least since 1975. You simply have to just come here by any means if driven to do so by this little country’s grand historical narratives.