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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 30 September, 2022

This exceptional Roman temple complex is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world.

Situated on a hill overlooking the surrounding valley, the enormous site includes the remains of two exceptional Roman temples – the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter, the latter distinguished by its 6 remaining columns. Both date from the mid-1st century – the height of the Roman Empire.

The site was known as ‘Heliopolis’ (meaning Sun City in Greek) during Roman times, though it had been a site of worship since 8,000 BC. The current name derives from the Phoenician sky god, Baal; the Phoenicians (1500 BC – 300 BC) built the first significant temple here.

Price from: £8
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The temple complex lies in the middle of the town of Baalbek, about 85km north-east of Beirut.

This is considered ‘Hezbollah territory’, it’s wise to go with a tour group or private driver who’s familiar with the area.

As there’s very little signage around the ruins, a tour guide can be very useful here. Many guides offer their services at the entrance for a small fee.

There are no stalls or restaurants inside the temple complex, so eat beforehand and bring plenty of water as the site involves quite a bit of walking.

When to do it

The site is open year-round daily, from dawn to dusk.

If you have the chance to go outside high season (July-August) you may very well end up having the place almost to yourself, which is an incredible experience.

High summer is uncomfortably hot, with temperatures close to 40°C, and unpleasantly busy.

Round-ups that include this experience

101 World’s greatest historic buildings

Multiple countries

The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.

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