Lebanon lies on the Mediterranean Sea at the junction of Europe and Asia. This nation forms part of the “Fertile Crescent”, a huge arc of well-watered land connecting Egypt and Iran and inhabited since earliest times.
One of the highlights of visiting this diverse country is the constant reminder of its long standing role in the history of the world with evidence of Roman and Phoenician occupation in abundance. With its superb natural landscape consisting of coastal plains, mountainous areas and valleys, you are constantly aware of Lebanon’s plethora of breathtaking sites.
Beirut, known as “the city that would never die” and “the Paris of the east”, was recently named by Conde Naste Traveller as one of the top ten cities of the world and with its old world charm, mountains, beaches and incredible ruins it is easy to see why.
A stroll along the Corniche with its bustling cafes, restaurants, fishermen and coffee sellers is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon overlooking the Mediterranean.
The Pigeon Grottoes are a huge rock formation standing like sentinels off the coast. Formed owing to an earthquake, the waves have formed their natural arches and by taking a boat trip it is possible to see this splendid phenomenon up close. The National Museum embodies a priceless treasury of Lebanon’s history displaying only antiquities from all regions of Lebanon. The museum gives a special place to mosaics, sarcophagi, pottery, jewellery and glass-making which reveal in fine detail Lebanon’s relationship with ancient civilisations.
The young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh and Achrafiye provide first class dining and partying where the main mantra seems to be not to worry about tomorrow. Beirut happily concedes its reputation as the party capital of the Middle East.
Byblos with its ancient fishing harbour, Roman remains, Crusader Castle and beautifully restored souk make it a fascinating destination for the discerning traveller.
About ten miles out of Beirut and along the coastal road is the Dog River (The Nahr el Kelb) which many important armies have travelled through, leaving their inscriptions on the cliffs. Notables who have left inscriptions include Ramses II and Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeita Grotto is the tourism jewel for Lebanon and consists of two enormous grottoes containing an impressive array of stalagmites and stalactites. The upper grotto, with half a mile of galleries, leads through a series of chambers sprouting unusual rock formations where concerts are sometimes held thanks to the great acoustics. The lower grotto is filled with water and therefore only accessible by boat taking you through a maze of colourful chambers where the Dog River originates.
Byblos with its ancient fishing harbour, Roman remains, Crusader Castle and beautifully restored souk is a fascinating destination for the discerning traveller. Known as the birthplace of the modern alphabet and a favourite of the 60′s jet set this awe-inspiring place conjures up many emotions. The Crusaders Castle built with Roman Stones consists of five towers encircling a courtyard and offering wonderful views of both the city and surrounding areas. The Memoire du Temps fossil Museum and old souks provide vivid images of a place that was a seat of worship for Adonis and Egyptian mythology.
The beautifully fertile Bekaa Valley, nestled between the Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges and traversed by two rivers, is a stunning natural landscape with wheat, its biggest crop, providing two harvests a year.
Baalbeck is a charming city and considered an important archaeological site with its majestic Roman temples and the world’s largest freestone. The Temple of Jupiter with its thrusting columns and peristyle structure edging into the skyline is a must visit. Built under Nero’s rule this impressive monolith pays tribute to the God of Sun. The Temple of Venus built in the 3rd century A.D. allows you to wallow in the Byzantine period and bask in the splendour of this unique tribute to The Goddess Venus. Ksara is the oldest wine making cave in the Middle East where Jesuit monks planted vines and started making communion wine. Nowadays tours of this lush region are readily available giving you the opportunity to sample and buy these excellent wines. Nearby Aanjar founded by Walib I Ibn is the only historic example of an inland commercial centre. This unique site features The Great Palace, Grand Mosque and the Public Baths.