A cozy little city located 40 km north of Beirut and was born in 8000 BC. e. – this is Byblos, or in Arabic Jabail (Jbail), – one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the Middle East, which tourists from all over the world seek to see. Here you can literally touch the history – the city is simply crammed with the ruins of ancient buildings: from the first settlements of fishing communities dating back to 8000 BC. e, the first buildings of the city, the cemetery of the Phoenicians, the 4000-year-old Egyptian temple, the Persian fortifications to the Roman road, the Byzantine churches, the citadel of the Middle Ages of the Ottoman Empire. Once the center of the papyrus trade between Egypt and Greece (biblical from Greek and means “papyrus”), now it is a city-museum, which has not so many equals even on a global scale.
According to Wholevehicles, Byblos is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the Middle East, which tourists from all over the world seek to see.
How to call
+961-9-phone number when calling from a mobile and 8-10-961-9-subscriber’s number when calling from a landline. And do not forget that the time in Lebanon is 1 hour behind Moscow.
How to get there
To get to Byblos, you need to fly from Moscow to Beirut on one of the daily flights, which will take you about 4 hours. Then, on inexpensive buses (for 2 USD) or by taxi (here you will have to pay up to 20 USD), break into the citadel of antiquity – Byblos. The journey will take 30 minutes.
The cuisine in Byblos is no less diverse than its archaeological heritage and historical past: Mediterranean, Turkish, French, Japanese, African restaurants flood the city. Choose according to preferences and prices. Dine in a Medieval al fresco setting with scenic views in the city center at Locanda a la Granda. Average check 50 USD.
There is no dress code in local restaurants, but still, you should not come to dinner in shorts and flip-flops – you will feel out of place. Be sure to order one of the desserts – they are very tasty here, and the portions are just huge.
The most affordable prices in the Mediterranean restaurant Al-Rif Grill on the main street of the city, here you can dine for 10 USD.
Another culinary “attraction” of Lebanon is the wines of amazing taste and aroma. Unfortunately, they are hard to find here, so enjoy them during your trip and don’t forget to bring a couple of bottles as a gift to your friends.
In the medieval part of the city, there is a beautifully restored souk (market) area with numerous souvenir shops. Here you can find the usual “antiques”, copperware, T-shirts and the like, but the most interesting are the kitsch postcards of the 1950s and Memoire Du Temps (Memory of Times Center) and Lebanese cedar items. Here you can buy decent and relatively inexpensive shoes, leather goods, clothes, and luxurious jewelry. Lots of souvenir shops near tourist sites.
Bargain with rapture and enjoy this “game” – it is customary to bargain in the Lebanese markets, it is in the blood of the Lebanese, the price can be knocked down twice.
Entertainment and attractions
Whoever conquered this city-history: the Egyptians, Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Macedonians, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, etc. Of course, the conquerors left behind an abundance of elements that characterize the medieval city (walls, cathedral, castle and dungeon), view Ottoman city (bazaars, khans, mosques, residential buildings). Most of them can be seen in the Archaeological Park. Here are traces of many cultures that have ever filled the city: as evidence of close ties with pharaonic Egypt, numerous Egyptian figurines appear before travelers, painfully familiar to domestic tourists; many foundations of residential buildings, the necropolis and city walls are reminiscent of the Phoenician period of history; Greeks and Romans left behind an amphitheater, nymphaeums and columns, crusaders and Arabs – the central tower of the donjon, fortress walls, etc.
Inspection of all these antiquities, which will take approximately 2 hours, will cost you 8000 LBP or 5 USD. By the way, the park is open from 8.00 to 19.30 in summer and until 17.00 in winter.
The most notable monument at the archaeological site is the Crusader Castle. At the beginning of the 12th century, the Franks built a powerful fortress here, for the construction of which they largely used the old Roman masonry. During the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, the castle was also used for its intended purpose, and some parts of it were restored. The castle consists of a courtyard with four towers at each corner of the building, and a fifth tower in the middle of the north wall that protected the entrance. It measures 49.5 m by 44 m and was once surrounded by a deep moat.
There are always guides at the excavation site who speak English, French, German, Italian or Japanese.
This building has several interesting features. For example, its entire basement is a huge water reservoir that has survived largely intact. Be sure to climb to the roof of the castle, from where you can capture the magnificent panorama of the ruins, the Phoenician ramparts and the Mediterranean Sea, not only in memory, but also on photographic paper.
Be sure to go up to the roof of the Crusader Castle, from where you can capture the magnificent panorama of the ruins, the Phoenician ramparts and the Mediterranean Sea, not only in memory, but also on photographic paper.
Tourists also like to visit the Roman theater, built in 218. Today, its magnificent reconstruction, which is only one third of the original size of the theater, is located near the edge of the cliff, which offers amazing views.
Not far from the theater, nine royal graves were carved into the rock in the form of vertical shafts. They belong to the II millennium BC. e. Such wells-graves are not found anywhere else. The most important tomb is that of King Hiram (1200 BC), who was a contemporary of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. His sarcophagus bears one of the earliest known inscriptions in the Phoenician alphabet. Hiram’s sarcophagus is now the main exhibit of the National Museum. On the shaft where his tomb is located, there is an inscription in the early Phoenician alphabet, which reads: “Warning. Your death is below.”
In the center of the medieval town is the Church of John the Baptist, known today as the Church of Saints John and Mark. It was built in several stages during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its construction began in 1115. One of its most unusual architectural features is the open baptistery, which is located against the north wall.
Lovers of romance
The most romantic place in Byblos is a cozy bay, at the entrance to which the crusaders built watchtowers. In summer, you can take a boat trip from the bay to admire Byblos from the sea or go diving. Nearby you can find several clean beaches and swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Be careful – under water and on the shore, you can stumble upon imposing stones and get hurt, so don’t forget your beach slippers.
Try to come here in the afternoon to have time to admire the magnificent sunset. There are many restaurants here that offer dishes of national cuisine, as well as fish cooked in various “cunning” ways.
If you travel to Byblos in August or September, we advise you not to miss the International Byblos Festival, which, as a rule, becomes a notable event not only because it is held under the auspices of UNESCO and under the patronage of the President of Lebanon. This is a bunch of diverse and sometimes unusual events – from art exhibitions to clowning, fashion shows and going out to sea with fishermen. His main “specialization” is the folk art of different countries and classical music.