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 Home > National Heritage > Mount Lebanon > Byblos 

(38 km from Beirut)

, or Jbeil is considered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Within its old town you can still see medieval Arab and Crusader remains, while its archaeological excavations, going back at least 7,000 years, make it one of the most important sites in the country.

In the 3rd millennium BC, the city owed its prosperity to trade in cedar wood. And it is from late 1st millennium Byblos that we get the linear Phoenician alphabet that became the basis of our modern alphabet. The fact of this Phoenician invention is reflected in the Greek name "Byblos," which originally meant "papyrus" and by extension, "book".

Archaeologists have unearthed single room huts with crushed limestone floors where early Stone Age inhabitants lived 7,000 years ago. You can also see the foundations of the Baalat-Gebal or "Lady of Byblos" temple, built in 2800 BC when Byblos had close ties with Egypt.

Temple remnants in ByblosOther temples are the Early Bronze Age L-Shaped temple and the later Obelisk temple which was built on top of it . During the excavation process the Obelisk temple was moved to another location. The Necropolis dates to the 2nd millennium BC and contains nine underground tombs of the Byblos kings. The most important is that of King Ahiram, whose sarcophagus bearing the earliest known inscription in the Phoenician alphabet can be seen at the Beirut National Museum.

Dominating the site is the Crusader Castle erected by the Knights of the Cross in 1103. The Crusaders re-used Roman stonework and cut new stones to match the old. An impressive Roman Colonnade, the remains of a Theater and a Roman Nymphaeun, or water source, are located near the Crusader castle. The Crusader church of St. John the Baptist, known since the 18th century as St. John Mark, was begun around 1115. After 1170 the church was damaged by earthquakes and local conflicts, which caused its western half to collapse. The present facade dates from the 19th century and the bell tower from the early 20th. A hemispheric dome supported by four pillars covers the baptistery, erected in 1115 against the north wall of the church.

Near the castle entrance is a charming square built by Emir Youssef Chehab (1770-1788), where you'll find a little mosque and a chapel called Our Lady of the Gate.  Towards the port is the old Greek Orthodox Church of Saydet An-Najat (Our Lady of Deliverance). This massive medieval construction, with solid walls supported by buttresses, was built on the site of an older church dating from Byzantine times.

At the entrance of the port are two Crusader towers. The Mamlukes renovated the one on the north, but only traces are left of the southern tower. The remains of ancient quays can be seen under the water at the bottom of the port. Near the castle in the town's 18th-19th century souks is the Wax Museum of Byblos. Nearby the Fossil Museum features a complete collection of fossil types found in Lebanon.  In the town's higher elevations are a number of very old churches such as the catacomb-like Mar Nohra cut from living rock and the Mar Semaan chapel.


Visit the Wax Museum, founded in 1970, which reflects the Lebanese rural life. Indeed once you are there, you will be taken back to the Phoenician age to discover the Phoenicians way of life, their tradition and civilization. More than 24 scenes and 120 statutes of natural scale, describe in details Lebanon's history and gives you a very clear idea about Lebanese habits and traditions.

About two km south of Byblos is the mouth of the River Fidar. In summer and fall when the river valley or "wadi" is dry, it is possible to cross the highway under the bridge and walk about 600 meters up the valley to the remains of a Roman Aqueduct. The construction crosses above the riverbed at a height of some 7 meters and stretches nearly 8 meters between the two banks. A second aqueduct, rock-cut and completed with small black stones set in white mortar, can be seen further up the wadi on the north side.

Back on the coast look for a two-story medieval guard tower, which was formerly part of a coastal defense system established by the Mamlukes. Known as Bourj al-Mouhaich or Bourj Al-Fidar, the tower makes use of ancient elements.


Getting There ...

Take the coastal highway northbound from Beirut.  Byblos is located on the coast, 38km north of Beirut. (
See Mount Lebanon Map)



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