Anjar, Lebanon

Anjar, 58 km (36 miles) from Beirut, is completely different from any other archaeological experience you'll have in Lebanon. At other historical sites in the country, different epochs and civilizations are superimposed one on top of the other. Anjar dates exclusively from one period: the Umayyad dynasty. Lebanon's other sites were founded millennia ago, but Anjar is a relative newcomer, founded by Walid I Ibn Abed Al-Malik, Caliph of the Umayyads, and going back to the early 8th century AD. Unlike Tyre and Byblos, which claim continuous habitation since the day they were founded, Anjar flourished for only a few decades. Other than a small Umayyad mosque in Baalbeck, there are few other remnants from this important period of Arab history in Lebanon.

Anjar also stands unique as the only historic example of an inland commercial center. The city benefited from its strategic position on intersecting trade routes leading to Damascus, Homs, Baalbeck, and the south. It lies in the midst of some of the richest agricultural land in Lebanon. It is only a short distance from gushing springs and one of the important sources of the Litani River. Today's name, Anjar, comes from the Arabic word Ain Gerrha, or "The Source of Gerrha", the name of an ancient city founded in this area by the Arab Itureans during Hellenistic times (333-64 BC).

Anjar has a special beauty. The city's slender columns and fragile arches stand in contrast to the massive bulk of the nearby Anti-Lebanon mountains, an eerie background for Anjar's extensive ruins and the memories of its short, but energetic, moment in history. Today Anjar is a prominent tourist destination, with a number of restaurants and picnic sites. It is also home to 3 Armenian churches. In 1984, UNESCO included Anjar Palace on its list of World Heritage Monuments.