Reasons to Visit
Lebanon is a real melting pot: you'll find Lebanese Christians and Muslims of various denominations, as well as Armenians and Palestinians in smaller numbers. What all Lebanese have in common is their friendliness and hospitality towards strangers, and this, combined with the mix of cultures and religions, is what makes Lebanon a fascinating place to visit.
Countless great civilisations have left their mark on Lebanon - from the Phoenicians to the Greeks, the Crusaders to the Ottomans and many, many more in between. The ruined cities left behind are amongst Lebanon's greatest attractions.
One of the world's most vibrant cities, Beirut is a great place to enjoy a strong, thick cup of coffee, whilst watching the locals go about their business. There are a range of cafes - from cheap local student hangouts, to swish establishments that wouldn't be out of place in Paris or Milan.
Lebanese dishes such as tabouleh, hummus, falafel and baba ganoush are commonly replicated around the world, but the authentic dishes prepared in the country really are the tastiest and cannot be beaten.
Lebanon's second city of Tripoli is a traditional town which could not be more different to the glitzy capital Beirut. Tripoli is famous for its colourful and lively souqs, where the maze of narrow alleyways includes medieval mosques, madrassas and public baths which are well worth exploring.
Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, the stunning landscape of the Qadisha valley is just a few hours drive from bustling Beirut and provides the perfect contrast. The exceptional backdrop is a great destination for activities ranging from gentle strolls to full day treks.
Lebanon is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world, and its offerings rival some of Bordeaux's finest. The southern Bekaa Valley is home to many of the regions best wineries including Ksar Massa and Château Ksara, and you will find the world famous Châteaux Musar roughly 30km to the north of Beirut.
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North Africa & the Middle East
Aanjar is an Ummayad city, one of very few remains from these early Islamic rulers who captured a vast swathe of land through as far as Spain. The remains of about 600 shops have been found here, indicating the importance of Aanjar as a trade centre.
Aanjar is an Ummayad city, one of very few remains from these early Islamic rulers who captured a vast swathe of land through as far as Spain.
Aanjar was built for the Caliph Khaled Ibn Al Walid in around 700 A.D. Unlike the other ancient cities in Lebanon, which have seen waves of inhabitants, Aanjar was a "new town" built from scratch.
It prospered for less than a century, and then fell into disuse. The ruins were discovered only in the 1940s, with excavation beginning some ten years later.
The ancient city was laid out in a grid, surrounded by heavily fortified walls and bisected by two wide avenues. The design of the city borrowed heavily from the Byzantines with a pattern of alternating red bricks and yellow stone.
This method of construction, as well as being attractive, also allows buildings to survive earthquakes better, important as they are not unknown in this region.
The site is now entered from the north, through one of four towering gateways that once protected the city. To the left you will pass the hammams, and then you will pass down the main street, which would once have been flanked with shops.
The remains of about 600 shops have been found, indicating the importance of Aanjar as a trade centre. Beyond the crossroads are the remains of a mosque and past the mosque you will see the reconstructed remains of the Grand Palace, which would have been a summer retreat for the caliphs. You can also wonder through the residential and commercial quarters.
As with any ruined city, part of the attraction is trying to work out for yourself what the purpose of the many various rooms and buildings was.
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