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Inside the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek

Temple of Bacchus may refer to any temple to the Roman wine god Bacchus or to temples of other gods with which he was equated in antiquity, such as the Greek Dionysus. However, it often refers specifically to the most famous temple of Bacchus, located in Roman Heliopolis (current Baalbek, Lebanon). It is one of the best preserved and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world. It and its ornamentation served as an influential model for Neoclassical architecture. The temple was commissioned by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and designed by an unknown architect and built close to the courtyard in front of the larger temple of Jupiter-Baal. The period of construction is generally considered between 150 AD to 250 AD. When the temple complex fell into disrepair, the Temple of Bacchus was protected by the rubble of the rest of the site’s ruins. The temple is known for its impressive dimensions, richly decorated stone work and monumental gate with Bacchic figures. The decorative stone carving includes rows of lions and bulls, which were motifs symbolically associated with the two deities.

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Temple of Bacchus Pillars up close, Baalbek

Temple of Bacchus may refer to any temple to the Roman wine god Bacchus or to temples of other gods with which he was equated in antiquity, such as the Greek Dionysus. However, it often refers specifically to the most famous temple of Bacchus, located in Roman Heliopolis (current Baalbek, Lebanon). It is one of the best preserved and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world. It and its ornamentation served as an influential model for Neoclassical architecture. The temple was commissioned by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and designed by an unknown architect and built close to the courtyard in front of the larger temple of Jupiter-Baal. The period of construction is generally considered between 150 AD to 250 AD. When the temple complex fell into disrepair, the Temple of Bacchus was protected by the rubble of the rest of the site’s ruins. The temple is known for its impressive dimensions, richly decorated stone work and monumental gate with Bacchic figures. The decorative stone carving includes rows of lions and bulls, which were motifs symbolically associated with the two deities.

Baalbek Lion drainage spout

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Baalbek Lion drainage spout

In 1984, Ballbek was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee.

Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek

h0n3yb33z posted a photo:

Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek

Temple of Bacchus may refer to any temple to the Roman wine god Bacchus or to temples of other gods with which he was equated in antiquity, such as the Greek Dionysus. However, it often refers specifically to the most famous temple of Bacchus, located in Roman Heliopolis (current Baalbek, Lebanon). It is one of the best preserved and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world. It and its ornamentation served as an influential model for Neoclassical architecture. The temple was commissioned by Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and designed by an unknown architect and built close to the courtyard in front of the larger temple of Jupiter-Baal. The period of construction is generally considered between 150 AD to 250 AD. When the temple complex fell into disrepair, the Temple of Bacchus was protected by the rubble of the rest of the site’s ruins. The temple is known for its impressive dimensions, richly decorated stone work and monumental gate with Bacchic figures. The decorative stone carving includes rows of lions and bulls, which were motifs symbolically associated with the two deities.

Baalbek Temple Ruins

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Baalbek Temple Ruins

In 1984, Ballbek was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee.

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Outer view of Baalbek showing the different walls

From 15 BC to AD 193, it formed part of the territory of Berytus. It is mentioned in Josephus, Pliny, Strabo, and Ptolemy and on coins of nearly every emperor from Nerva to Gallienus. The 1st-century Pliny did not number it among the Decapolis, the "Ten Cities" of Coelesyria, while the 2nd-century Ptolemy did. The population likely varied seasonally with market fairs and the schedules of the Indian monsoon and caravans to the coast and interior.

Ruins of Baalbek

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Ruins of Baalbek

The Roman temple complex grew up from the early part of the reign of Augustus in the late 1st century BC until the rise of Christianity in the 4th century. (The 6th-century chronicles of John Malalas of Antioch, which claimed Baalbek as a "wonder of the world", credited most of the complex to the 2nd-century Antoninus Pius, but it is uncertain how reliable his account is on the point.) By that time, the complex housed three temples on Tell Baalbek: one to Jupiter Heliopolitanus (Baʿal), one to Venus Heliopolitana (Ashtart), and a third to Bacchus. On a nearby hill, a fourth temple was dedicated to the third figure of the Heliopolitan Triad, Mercury (Adon or Seimios). Ultimately, the site vied with Praeneste in Italy as the two largest sanctuaries in the Western world.

Baalbek Passageway

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Baalbek Passageway

In 1984, Ballbek was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. This Phoenician city, where a triad of deities was worshipped, was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. It retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee.

Baalbek Roman Ruins

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Baalbek Roman Ruins

The Baalbek temple complex, fortified as the town’s citadel during the Middle Ages, was constructed from local stone, mostly white granite and a rough white marble. Over the years, it has suffered from the region’s numerous earthquakes, the iconoclasm of Christian and Muslim lords, and the reuse of the temples’ stone for fortification and other construction. The nearby Qubbat Duris, a 13th-century Muslim shrine on the old road to Damascus, is built out of granite columns, apparently removed from Baalbek. Further, the jointed columns were once banded together with iron; many were gouged open or toppled by the emirs of Damascus to get at the metal. As late as the 16th century, the Temple of Jupiter still held 27 standing columns out an original 58; there were only nine before the 1759 earthquakes and six today.

Baalbek Roman Temple Ruins

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Baalbek Roman Temple Ruins

The Roman temple complex grew up from the early part of the reign of Augustus in the late 1st century BC until the rise of Christianity in the 4th century. (The 6th-century chronicles of John Malalas of Antioch, which claimed Baalbek as a "wonder of the world", credited most of the complex to the 2nd-century Antoninus Pius, but it is uncertain how reliable his account is on the point.) By that time, the complex housed three temples on Tell Baalbek: one to Jupiter Heliopolitanus (Baʿal), one to Venus Heliopolitana (Ashtart), and a third to Bacchus. On a nearby hill, a fourth temple was dedicated to the third figure of the Heliopolitan Triad, Mercury (Adon or Seimios). Ultimately, the site vied with Praeneste in Italy as the two largest sanctuaries in the Western world.