Anjar: Umayyad heritage in the heart of Bekaa valley

Finally I am here to tell you about a part of Bekaa valley, locked between Mount Lebanon on the West and Anti-Lebanon mountains on the East. It’s a very controversial place that has amazing breathtaking landscapes from one side and safety problems due to unstable situation closer to the Syrian boarders on the other. It’s also a well-known route for drug dealers. But nevertheless, the view on Bekaa valley from the mountain high is totally priceless and hardly a single camera can capture its true beauty. You just have to go there and experience it yourself! Sooo, the hero of the day is the city called Anjar!

All pictures are taken by me.

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Anjar is the town in Bekaa valley with the population of around 2 500 people; the majority of people are Orthodox Armenians. Though the city is super tiny, but it has a long history. The main attraction of Anjar is the ruins of Umayyad palace and its surroundings.

It was founded by Umayyad Caliph Walid I as the so called palace-city (by another, less popular, version by his son, prince Al-Abbas) in the VIII century. Situated at the foot of anti-Lebanon Mountain, Anjar occupied a vital location during Antique and Medieval Bekaa. It sits as the crossroads leading from Homs to Tiberius and from Damascus to Beirut. The city, with all its preserved urban components, constitutes the most complete Umayyad set, which witnessed the succession of several civilizations in the region.

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The city was abandoned later on, leaving a number of ruins. In 1939, Anjar was settled by Armenian refugees from Musa Dagh, mountains on the territory of modern Turkey, where Armenians used to escape from genocide.

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Excavations and restoration works were carried out between 1953 and 1975 (before the Civil war started) under the supervision of the director of Lebanon’s Antiquities, Maurice Chehab, and the architect engineer Haroutioun Kalayan.

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Columns in Anjar
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Spot the lizard!
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The main part
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Stony column

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Later on, during the Civil war and the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Syrian Army chose Anjar as its central military base in Bekaa. The steps of that are still obvious on the territory of Anjar remains.

Nowadays Anjar is a cozy town with petite old houses, beautiful trees and welcome people. It has another famous attraction apart from the ruins, which is called restaurant Shams (sun in Arabic). I suggest you to stop by to try their tasty food and enjoy the live saxophone music.

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