City in Lebanon famous for its archaeological remains.
Located in the Biqa Valley some 53 miles (85 km) from Beirut, Baʿalbak (or Baʿalbek), is the foremost tourist site in Lebanon. Perhaps a center of the cult of the great Semitic god Baal, it owes its fame today to its Roman temples, which date to the late second century and the beginning of the third century. The Temple of Bacchus is the best-preserved Roman temple of its size in the world.
Prior to the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990), Baʿalbak was known for its annual international festivals, which offered a typical Lebanese blending of Eastern and Western cultures. The present city, the capital of one of the least Westernized districts of Lebanon, had an estimated 29,400 inhabitants in 2002, with a strong Shiʿite majority and a Christian minority. The political significance of the city was heightened in 1982–1983, when it became the base for a contingent of revolutionary guards sent by the Iranian regime to help build, organize, and train the militant group Islamic AMAL, which provided the nucleus for the better-known Hizbullah. In the early 1990s, Hizbullah's headquarters were in Baʿalbak.
see also amal; biqa valley; hizbullah; revolutionary guards.
Alouf, Michel. A History of Baʿalbek. Beirut: Impr. des Belles-Lettres, 1905.
Ragette, Friedrich. Baalbek. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1980.
Guilain P. Denoeux