North-Bekaa is one of the most captivating historical areas in Lebanon, it’s home for the popular temples of Baalbeck as well as much less known attractions and hidden gems. Here’s a list of the top 10 places to visit.
1- Baalbeck complex
Baalbeck complex includes two of the largest and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world: the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter. It’s also home to the temples of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, and the Odeon. The Temple of Bacchus which is one of the most preserved Roman temples in the world, is larger than the Parthenon of Athens and all of the temples of the complex.
2- Stone of the pregnant
The Stone of the Pregnant Woman, together with other nearby stone blocks, are among the largest monoliths ever quarried. The building blocks were presumably intended for Jupiter temple but they never made it out of the quarry. More details.
3- Iaat Column
Standing alone for 1900 years, no one is sure why this Corinthian column exists. Some say it was built by St. Helena of Constantinople while others say it marks the site of a great ancient battle. More details.
4- Stay at Palmyra Hotel
Built in 1874, Palmyra is one of the most wonderful colonial-era relics dotting the Middle East, its guestbook is an impressive testament to how glamorous travel in the region once was.
Royals and heads of state have stayed at the hotel including Charles de Gaulle, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, King Faisal I of Iraq, King Abdullah I of Jordan and the Shah of Iran. Other famous guests include local stars such as Fairouz and Sabah, as well as Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw.
5- Couvent Rouge winery
It’s the story of a village that decided to replace its cannabis crops by vine plantations. Couvent Rouge is a remote winery where you can experience wine tasting and lunch or dinner in this amazing setup.
6- Hermel Pyramid
It’s probably the most underrated Lebanese monument. You can’t go to Hermel without visiting this mysterious Pyramid. More details.
7- Mar Maroun caves
Five minutes drive from Hermel Pyramid and you reach Mar Maroun monastery. It is an ancient cavern carved out of solid rock in the side of a cliff, located above Ain ez Zarqa, the source of Assi river. It’s been suggested that these caves were the shelter of the first Maronites in the 4th century AD.
8- Rafting in Assi river
Also known as Orontes, the Assi is a 571-kilometer-long river which begins in Lebanon, flowing northwards through Syria before entering the Mediterranean Sea near Samandağ in Turkey. “Assi” means “rebel” in arabic, this name was given to this river because, unlike the rest of the rivers in the region, its waters flow from south to north. Known for its harsh currents and rocky path, it is the perfect destination for rafting enthusiasts.
9- Yammouneh lake
Yammouneh is one of the most beautiful Lebanese towns, its lake is home to Lebanon’s only endemic fish, “Pseudophoxinus Libani”. In Phoenician Mythology, the goddess Astarte turned herself into a golden fish in Yammouneh lake to escape from the vengeance of Adonis’s wrathful brother Typhon. Once in Yammouneh, you should also visit the nature reserve, water springs and the ruins of the Roman temple.
10- Ouyoun Orghoch
An oasis in the middle of North-Bekaa, the beautiful lakes of Oyoun Orghoch lie on the eastern foothills of Qornet El Sawda, Lebanon’s highest peak, where they water the arid surroundings. Besides the epic scenery, visitors can enjoy a meal at one of the nearby restaurants.
BONUS: Enjoy a day and night stay at “Al Jourd Natural Reserve”
Located in Hermel on the road to Dennieh, this reserve is home for the majestic Juniper trees. It’s one of the most amazing places in Lebanon for hiking and unwinding. In addition to day activities, you can plan a night stay in the amazing eco-friendly campsite.