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Byblos, One of the oldest cities in the world

Go back in time in the great cultural city of Byblos/Jbeil.

Overview

Byblos is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

According to Phoenician tradition it was founded by the God El, and even the Phoenicians considered it a city of great antiquity. Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least 7,000 years. Ironically, the words "Byblos" and "Phoenicia" would not have been recognized by the city’s early inhabitants.

Today Byblos, on the coast 37 kilometers north of Beirut, is a thriving place with glass facade office buildings and busy streets. But inside the old town, the ruins of Arabs and the Crusades of the Middle Ages are constant reminders of the past. Nearby are extensive excavations that make Byblos one of the most important archaeological sites in the area.

Before Byblos was excavated, the ruins of successive cities had formed a mound about 12 meters high covered with houses and gardens. The ancient site was rediscovered in 1860 by the French writer Ernest Renan, who made a survey of the area. In 1921-1924 Pierre Montet, a French Egyptologist, began excavations which confirmed trade relations between Byblos and ancient Egypt.

 

 

 

What You Can Do

The city is known for its fish restaurants, open-air bars, and outdoor cafes. Yachts cruise into its harbor today as they did in the 1960s and 1970s when Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra were regular visitors to the city. Byblos was chosen by Condé Nast Traveler as the second-best city in the Middle East for 2012, beating Tel Aviv and Dubai, and by the World Tourism Organization as the best Arab tourist city for 2013.

The old souks

Filled with picturesque cafes, small local shops, and a fabulous atmosphere, the city's old bazaars are an important part of the Byblos experience. The cobblestone streets and ancient buildings are reminiscent of the old inhabitants of the city, from the Egyptians to the Phoenicians.

the Byblos Harbour

Walking in Byblos Harbor is an inevitable activity, a serene experience. Once a center for Phoenician trade and cultural exchange, the area is now a quiet center for local fishermen and tourists who want to taste the Lebanese side of the Mediterranean.

Wax Museum

The Byblos Wax Museum is a small but essential place. Most locals probably walked through its narrow corridors to the Phoenician city, and many were impressed with its upkeep. The scenes depicted in the museum take you from Phoenician times to modern times. From Adonis to Gebran Kahlil Gebran, the museum tries to encompass the history of the city in a very small place.

Marvel at the Crusader Castle

Built by the Crusades in the 12th century, the castle still exists as a relic that is a rich historical part of the city. As the largest culture, the castle was built using ruins of Roman structures and was previously surrounded by a moat. The two sides of the castle are numerous Roman, Egyptian, and Phoenician structures, as well as the city's port.

Saint John-Marc Cathedral

Originally built as a Baptist church in 1115 AD by the Crusaders, the cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of Byblos, Saint John Mark, who is said to be the first to support Christianity in the city. The church's Romanesque arches, authenticity and imposing structures make it a perfect spiritual experience for spectators. Its simple relationship with the past makes it a must visit.

 

Beaches and bars

There are several fantastic beach clubs along the coast where you can sunbathe and enjoy the fabulous Mediterranean views. The Eddésands Hotel & Wellness Resort has long been a favorite among couples, groups, and families. The vast complex has countless swimming pools and plenty of beach activities. Nomad is undoubtedly one of the hippest beach bars in Lebanon, and partygoers are sure to feel like at home in Ayla.

What to Eat

Byblos has many restaurants and cafes, including Lebanese, Chinese food, and fast-food restaurants such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds. Byblos Old harbor is also home to many restaurants that serve seafood and have great panoramic sea views. The old market in Jbeil also has many great side street cafes and restaurants with great views and a romantic atmosphere.

Including Byblos Fishing Club, Chez Pépé, Byblos Old Port. This restaurant is located on the Mediterranean Sea, one of the oldest restaurants in Lebanon. Decorating the walls are pictures of many international personalities that have visited the restaurant, including Brigitte Bardot, Jaques Chirac, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Fraga Iribarne.

Some History

About 7,000 years ago a small Neolithic fishing community settled along the shore and several of their monocellular huts with crushed limed stone floors can be seen on the site. Many tools and weapons of this stone age period have been found as well.

The Chalcolithic Period saw a continuation of the same way of life but brought with it new burial customs where the deceased were laid in large pottery jars and buried with their earthly possessions.

In return, Egypt sent gold, alabaster, papyrus rope and linen. Thus began a period of prosperity, wealth, and intense activity.

Several centuries later Amorite tribes from the desert overran the coastal region and set fire to Byblos. But once the Amorites had settled in, the city was rebuilt, and Egypt again began to send costly gifts to Byblos. These seafarers probably contributed their skills to maritime society we know today as Phoenicia.

About this same time the scribes of Byblos developed an alphabetic phonetic script, the precursor of our modern alphabet. By 800 B.C., it had traveled to Greece, changing forever the way man communicated. the earliest form of the Phoenician alphabet found to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos.

During this Hellenistic Period, residents of Byblos adopted Greek customs and culture. the Romans under Pompey took over Byblos and other Phoenician cities, ruling them from 64 B. In Byblos they built large temples, baths, and other public buildings as well as a street bordered by a colonnade that surrounded the city. There are few remains of the Byzantine Period in Byblos, partly because construction was of soft sandstone and generally of poor quality.

Video Overview

The video is a small project we did on Christmas to bring some cheer to the random walker by's and distributing small gifts, all at the same time while showing what it's like to go around in Byblos.

Trip Overview
  • Trip profile
    Touring
  • Type
    Biking, Religious, Chill, Food, Cultural/Historical
  • Available Activities
    Hiking, Parkour, Biking, Sightseeing
  • Time to Arrive (from Beirut)
    1 hours
  • Adventure Duration
    4 hours
  • Difficulty (for a non-athlete)
    Easy
  • How to Arrive
    Car, Bus

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