The 10 best places to visit in Lebanon


Built by the Crusader's in the 13th century in the southern Lebanese coastal port town of Sidon is the Sidon Sea Castle, today sitting in partial ruin. A winding staircase leads up to the roof of the better preserved west tower where visitors can see the small domed Ottoman era mosque and get a view across the old city and the fishing harbour.

10. Sidon Sea Castle


Completed in 1818 after 30 years of construction, just to the south of the capital, Beirut, is the Beiteddine Palace. Seen by many as one of the greatest man made treasures of Lebanon, filled with hand made mosaics this historic protected landmark is the most opulent site in the countries history.

9. Beiteddine Palace


To the north east of the capital, Beirut, in the Nahr Al-Kalb Valley in the Lebanon Mountains is the Jeita Grotto, running nearly 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) underground. The site consists of two separate but interconnected karstic limestone caves with a subterranean river running through it meaning visitors can only enter using boats. Home to the worlds largest known stalactite, it is one of the countries most visited tourist attractions, a national symbol of Lebanon and a contender for one of the New 7 Wonders Of Nature.

8. Jeita Grotto


Completed in 1907 in the village of Harissa, just north of the capital, Beirut, is a 15 ton bronze statue known as the Shrine Of Our Lady Of Lebanon, honouring Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Standing 8.5 metres (28 ft) high on a hill already 650 metres (2,132 ft) above sea level this major pilgrimage location offers visitors incredible views over the Bay Of Jounieh and the nearby Harissa Cathedral.

7. Our Lady Of Lebanon


Originally built in 1103 in the north of the country overlooking the eastern Mediterranean Sea in Lebanon's second largest city, Tripoli, is the Citadel Of Raymond De Saint-Gilles, often referred to as the Citadel Of Tripoli. Having burnt down in 1289, what stands there today has been rebuilt and restored over the centuries, and with heavy influence and enlargement by the Ottoman's it remains one of the most well preserved and largest ancient fortifications anywhere in the Middle East.

6. Citadel Of Raymond De Saint-Gilles


Around halfway up the countries Mediterranean coast is Lebanon's biggest city, and it's capital city, Beirut. Before the war of 2006 Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East, a place with diverse rich history famed for it's culture and cuisine. Today among the modern high rise hotels visitors can still get lost among the long streets and tight alleyways of French, Venetian Gothic, Arabesque and Ottoman architecture, seek out the numerous old mosques, Crusader churches and Roman era ruins taking in the atmosphere in what is one of the most westernised cities in the Middle East.

5. Beirut


South east of Tripoli in the northern centre of the country is Lebanon's highest point, the Qurnat As Sawda, meaning The Black Peak. With an elevation of 3,088 metres (10,131 ft) above sea level it is among the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country and is supposedly the site where Noah planted a sacred tree after the great flood. Treks can be arranged and visitors should expect a 5-6 round trip.

4. Qurnat As Sawdā


In the north of the country just south of Tripoli is the Quadi Qadisha or Kadisha Valley, translated to mean the 'Holy Valley'. Located at the foot of Mount Al-Makma the gorge was carved by the Kadisha river and in places it's cliff faces reach up to 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) high. As well as it's natural wonder, having been used as a shelter by Christian Monastic communities for centuries the valley is home to some incredible Monastery complexes that hang from the steep valley walls.

Close to the area is the Horsh Arz El-Rab, or Forest Of The Cedars Of God, the last remaining trees of the ancient cedars of Lebanon, the most highly prized building material of the time. With some of it's trees a whopping 3,000 years old, the Forests Of The Cedars Of God along with the Kadisha Valley have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the village of Bsharri next to the Kadisha Gorge.

3. Quadi Qadisha & Horsh Arz El-Rab


Directly south of Tripoli in the Lebanon Mountains is one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the planet, the Baatara Gorge Waterfall. With a single 100 metre (330 ft) drop the water plunges behind three natural bridges and then falls a further 240 metres (790 ft) into the chasm below.

2. Baatara Gorge Waterfall


In the east of the country close to the Anti Lebanon Mountains that separate Lebanon and Syria is the city of Baalbek, with The Heliopolis' Temple Complex, a treasure trove of ancient Roman ruins. Located on an immense man made raised plaza built from monolithic stones still stands the ruins of the Temple Of Jupiter, The Temple Of Bacchus and it's foundation stones and walls, in what would have been one of the most incredible man made structures of it's time. Close to the site is a quarry that contains the famous Three Stones, cut from limestone weighing approximately 880 tons each. A fourth stone, 'The Stone Of The Pregnant Woman', half dragged towards the temple complex is bigger still. This perfect rectangular block at over 20 metres (65 ft) in length with 4 metre (13 ft) edges weighing approx. 1,100 tons is among the largest monoliths ever quarried, and is a mystery as to how they could move such enormous structures. With one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture anywhere, the Complex of Temples at Baalbek has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured are the ruins of the Temple Of Bacchus.

1. Baalbek

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