Bad conscience in Tyre and Sidon

Sidon Sea Castle

The South of the Lebanon is less traveled by tourists. Nevertheless, it features – among others – two historical sites worthwhile a visit: Tyre and Sidon (Saida). Again, I left early in the morning from Beirut, taking a minibus to the city of Tyre. The trip was about 80km long with a change of bus at Sidon. On the second bus, I met Jalil – a Lebanese who was eager to tell me everything about his hometown, Tyre (or: “Sour” in Arabic). He told me the story about the separation of the old town which has a Christian (Haret el Masihiyeh) and a Muslim (Haret el Jalaji’) area. These areas are separated and the people tend not to mix. The Muslim area is the busier of the two, but it also is considered to be the “area of the common man”, while the Christian area has the better infrastructure, such as schools and medical centers. Looking for some ancient Roman history in Tyre, Jalil made me aware that this town has an ongoing history. Being located near the Israeli – Lebanese border certainly does not help. The last Israeli attack was only a couple of years back (2006) and there are tons of unexploded cluster bombs and mines that blow up from time to time. Continue reading “Bad conscience in Tyre and Sidon”

The melting pot of civilizations at Baalbek

Uncompleted Jupiter temple in Baalbek

The road to the town of Baalbek, situated in the Bekaa valley, is a scenic two hour bus drive from Beirut. There are many mini buses covering this route and therefore getting there was quite easy.

Baalbek has a population of about 80’000 people. This place has been continuously been inhabited since the eight millennium BC. To see a place where history took place, look no further. The Romans called this city Heliopolis (not to be confused with the Egypt city by the same name). Trips to historic sites is one of my favorite activity when I am traveling. If I ever wanted to see a historic site, this definitely fits the bill. Over thousands of years, the political, religious and cultural environment changed serveral times. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, European Crusaders and Turks – among others – in turn dominated this territory. All the conquerors did rule for several centuries here, except for the Crusaders who barely made it for two centuries. All of these cultural influences left their mark. Continue reading “The melting pot of civilizations at Baalbek”

Jet set in Beirut

Holiday Inn Beirut

It has now been almost a year since my round-the-world trip. It is definitely time for a new trip – on a much smaller scale – to explore some historic sites I am interested. The Middle Eastern countries contain some of these ancient sites. They did spur my imagination as a child, when I was reading books or hearing stories about exotic places. When planning the round-the-world trip, I couldn’t really fit the Middle East into my general direction. Well, looking back now, I can’t really think of any valid reason why I didn’t adjust the route back then. Maybe I wanted something interesting to be left when I return. Continue reading “Jet set in Beirut”