6 Days in Lebanon – Part 2

Day 3. Now, we were driving out of Beirut to north-east Lebanon, Bekaa Valley area. Bekaa Valley is a high plateau between Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountain. Today, the area is still Lebanon’s most important farming region.

First, Baalbek. Located about 85km north-east of Beirut, Baalbek is famous for its magnificent temple and as headquarters for Hezboullah.

Baalbek Temple
 
Six standing columns part of Temple of Jupiter
 
Temple of Bacchus
 
An area within Baalbek Temple Complex
 
We also visited the largest hewn stone in the world, just few hundred meters from the temple complex. Look at the size in compare to my body size 🙂
 
The Largest Stone in the World (Stone of the pregnant woman)
 
Before heading to Zahle, we drove around city of Baalbek.
 
Baalbek town center
 
A mosque in Baalbek boulevard
 
Zahle is the capital of Beqaa Governorate of Lebanon. All of its inhabitans are Christians from many sects (Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox).
Fertile Bekaa Valley(on the way from Baalbek to Zahle)
 
Zahle's Cafe Berdouni - famous for its Lebanese cuisines. Crowded during winter
 
Monte Alberto - a hotel in Zahle, perched on the rocky cliff, overlooking Wadi Zahle and Berdouni River
 
After a brief lunch stop in Zahle, we continued to Ksara to visit Lebanon’s most famous vineyard Chateau Ksara.
 
Ksara Winery, after attending free tour
 
Part of the Ksara Winery is this extremely spacious underground caves, where the wine matures. There are now nearly 2km of tunnels where temperature stays between 11 C and 13 C throughout the year - the ideal temperature for the wine
 
Anjar is  our next destination. From Ksara, Anjar can be accessed through inter-country road that connect Lebanon to Damascus of Syria. Instead of going this way, we used a smaller road  that connect Ksara to northern Anjar. The road is one-line double carriageway passing through vineyard, rural villages, and several military checkpoints. On the way back, however, we used normal primary road.
 
Road to Anjar from Ksara (alternative northern road)
Complex of Umayyad ruins, probably dating back to the rule of the sixth Umayyad Caliph Walid I in AD 705-715
 
The Anjar complex includes ruins of public bath, residential quarters, great palace, shops and mosque
 
With that, we completed our visit to Beqaa Valley. On the way back to Beirut, we (to be precise, I) decided to detour to Beiteddine via Barouk.
 
Barouk cedars forest - on the way to Beiteddine
 
Beiteddine Palace just got served!
 
Beiteddine Palace's Mosaics Garden
 
Beiteddine Palace - Mosaics Room
 
That was a long day. Back to Beirut, we took a bit longer evening rest before strolling Hamra nearby. It was almost 10 PM yet Hamra still bustling. People flocked coffee shop at roadsides, while to-be-seen young Beirutis dressed to kill.
 
Hamra Street.
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