Sofia July 2018

From Beirut, we continued our summer holiday to the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, Sofia.  Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe and over the last 2,000 years have come under Thracian, Roman, Ottoman, and Russian rule lending to the mix of architecture with Ottoman mosques sitting next to Soviet-era buildings.  Recent … Continue reading Sofia July 2018

Byblos July 2018

About an hour north of Beirut is Byblos.  Byblos is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, believed to have been first occupied between 8,800 and 7,000 BC.  It was built as the first city in Phoenicia by Cronus.  In the middle of the 3rd century BC, Byblos was already an important … Continue reading Byblos July 2018

Anjar July 2018

The ancient ruins I have visited in the past were normally of Greek and Roman origin.  Rarely have I come across an Islamic one.  Not far from Baalbek is the Umayyad city of Anjar founded by Caliph Walid bin Abd Al Malik in the 8th century.  The Umayads were the first Muslim dynasty to pass … Continue reading Anjar July 2018

Baalbek July 2018

Baalbek is an ancient Phoenician city about 2 hours northeast of Beirut in the Beqaa Valley.  It was a religious center attracting thousands of pilgrims who worshipped the Phoenician sky-god Ba’al and his consort Astarte, the Queen of Heaven.  There was once a grand temple here dedicated to these two pagan gods which was later … Continue reading Baalbek July 2018

Beirut July 2018

This year, my summer holiday starts in Beirut, Lebanon, which used to be regarded “The Paris of the Middle East”.  Being one of the oldest cities in the world, I didn’t imagine it to be a metropolis complete with skyscrapers, new glass buildings, trendy restaurants etc.  The Central District area was completely rebuilt due to … Continue reading Beirut July 2018