Jbail

Overview

Introduction

Although other cities may claim to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Jbail, or Byblos, has the goods to back its claim. And visitors will be happy to discover that the evidence (spanning approximately 6,000 years) is located in a relatively compact area.

The Byblos Archaeological Site, as it's officially called, has a mind-boggling inventory, including a Crusader castle and the ruins of a Persian castle, Amorite temples, a Greek well, a Roman theater and a necropolis containing the tomb of King Hiram. (His sarcophagus, as well as many other artifacts unearthed in Jbail, is on display in Beirut's National Museum.) The archaeological site also has some remains from the Bronze Age, though to the untrained eye they look like little more than crushed stones.

In the modern—that is, medieval—center of Jbail you'll find the Romanesque-style Church of St. John the Baptist. The souk is located nearby, but it's a bit too clean and airy to be called authentic. You're more likely to buy jeans or shoes there than traditional Lebanese crafts. Jbail is 22 mi/35 km north of Beirut.

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