85 kms from Beirut in the Lebanon, lies the ancient city of Baalbeck. There were settlements there in Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, before the Romans came along and started their massive building programmes.
The Greeks called the city Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Baalbeck was their Sun God.
A few kilometres outside the town is the Roman quarry. It was used as the local rubbish dump until Abdul Nabi al-Afi rescued it single-handed.
baalbeck-lebanon4The quarry has what is apparently the largest quarried stone in the world there, which was never finished. It’s 45 mts wide and weighs 1,000 tons. Destined to be the unfinished Temple of Jupiter’s podium, the massive stone was abandoned and left poking out of the ground.
It was hard for Afi to convince the local people how important the site was, and they continued to dump their rubbish there until Afi arranged a refuse collecting service for them.
Now he runs a small souvenir shop on the site to support himself and his family, and so that he can keep an eye on the site to protect it.
Afi gets no aid or financial support and he worries about what will happen to the ancient site when he’s gone.
All visitors are offered a welcome coffee, and invited to sign his Golden Guest Book.
Baalbeck has the largest Roman temples ever built, dedicated to Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. They also worshipped Baal, the sun God. The temple platform stones are the largest known quarry-cut stones in prehistory, weighing from 800-1200 tons.
They imported granite columns from Egypt.
It’s one of the most impressive man-made places that I’ve ever seen in my life.
I sometimes found it very similar to Chichen Itza in Mexico; both the style of building and the decorations.
As I walked round, all I could think was, how? How did they build it?
There are six Corinthian columns, 22mts high on a podium 7mts above the Court.
Originally there were eight more columns but they were dismantled and shipped to Constantinople by Emperor Justinian.
The site has suffered from theft, war and earthquakes. Originally it must have made anyone who saw it gasp out loud and fall on their knees to obediently worship the powerful Gods represented by the massive edifices.
As we toured the site, I realised that talking about it was like discussing an elderly, embarrassing relative. Every time I raised the subject of how it was built, someone changed the subject.
baalbeck-lebanon10It would be impossible to build it nowadays. No modern machinery could cut those blocks and lift them into place!
No way were they hauled along and lifted up by slaves pulling on ropes! There wouldn’t be enough room for all the manpower necessary, and no ropes could pull them. And I don’t believe that they would waste so much time, struggling to lever up a stone a fraction (and what poles could take the weight?) and then throwing some sand or dirt underneath to gradually raise it, then dragging it along for miles, and repeating the process.
Various theories have been suggested through the years, including help from aliens or a superior race.
The Incas always insisted that their massive stones walked by themselves!
Crazy? If so, why have the Americans and Russians been studying psychokinesis for years? Maybe the combined concentration of trained experts could move the huge blocks into place.
And if not, why on earth did they bother to carve out and move such massive stones? Why not make them much smaller? After all, the Romans had the best cement ‘recipe’ that has ever been invented!
However they managed to do it, their workmanship is absolutely mind-blowing.
Baalbeck is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why do I think they did it?
Because they could!

Sadly, at the moment, Baalbeck is considered a no-go area as it’s too close to the Syrian border. But do keep checking the websites for details as it’s well worth seeing.
Most of the Lebanon is perfectly safe, and it’s a wonderful place to visit. The food’s world-renowned, and the people are welcoming. It’s not their fault that they’ve got the Neighbours from Hell!

www.ukinlebanon.fco.gov.uk

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.