20 Facts About Baalbek


In 1998 Baalbek had a population of 82, 608, mostly Shia Muslims, followed by Sunni Muslims and Christians.

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Baalbek was called Heliopolis during the Roman Empire, a latinisation of the Greek Helioupolis used during the Hellenistic Period, meaning "Sun City" in reference to the solar cult there.

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Etymology of Baalbek has been debated indecisively since the 18th century.

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Baalbek's idol was a beardless golden god in the pose of a charioteer, with a whip raised in his right hand and a thunderbolt and stalks of grain in his left; its image appeared on local coinage and it was borne through the streets during several festivals throughout the year.

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Baalbek then inquired whether he would return alive from his wars against Parthia and received in reply a centurion's vine staff, broken to pieces.

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Around the year 400, Rabbula, the future bishop of Edessa, attempted to have himself martyred by disrupting the pagans of Baalbek but was only thrown down the temple stairs along with his companion.

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Baalbek was forced to relinquish it to Nur ad-Din in 1154 after Ayyub had successfully intrigued against Abaq from his estates near Baalbek.

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Baalbek's citadel served as a jail for Crusaders taken by the Zengids as prisoners of war.

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Baalbek did not permit Turan Shah to retain Baalbek very long, though, instructing him to lead the Egyptian troops returning home in 1179 and appointing him to a sinecure in Alexandria.

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Baalbek was then granted to his nephew Farrukh Shah, whose family ruled it for the next half-century.

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Baalbek was followed by al-Ashraf Musa, who was succeeded by his brother as-Salih Ismail, who received it in 1237 as compensation for being deprived of Damascus by their brother al-Kamil.

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In 1516, Baalbek was conquered with the rest of Syria by the Ottoman sultan Selim the Grim.

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All the same, Baalbek remained no destination for a traveller unaccompanied by an armed guard.

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Baalbek noted both the magnificence of the Roman remains and the drab condition of the modern settlement.

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Baalbek was connected to the DHP, the French-owned railway concession in Ottoman Syria, on 19 June 1902.

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Baalbek still has its railway station but service has been discontinued since the 1970s, originally owing to the Lebanese Civil War.

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Baalbek announced the setting up of military training camps to train villagers in southern Lebanon to protect their homes from Israeli attacks.

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The ruins at Baalbek were not directly hit but the effects of blasts during the conflict toppled a block of stones at the Roman ruins and existing cracks in the temples of Jupiter and Bacchus were feared to have widened.

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Baalbek has a mediterranean climate with significant continental influences.

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Ruins of Baalbek facing west from the hexagonal forecourt in the 19th century.

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