Temple en L
The Temple “en- L” (so called because of its shape) erected in 2700 B.C. A section of charred stone at the entrance of the sacred court is evidence that the temple was destroyed by fire, probably at the time of the Amorite invasions 2300-1900 B.C. Terra cotta basins set in bench of masonry behind the entrance probably held water for ritual ablutions.
Thought to date from around 2800 B.C, these fortified walls were built by the Phoenicians to protect their city, Gebal (as it was known then).At the time, the city had two entrances, one facing the sea and another facing inland. The surviving thick stone wall is located within the archaeological site, right below the Crusader Castle, and curves towards the shore.
The Chapel of Our lady of Deliverance ( Saidet Al Najat- Maronite”)
This chapel is also known locally as the Maisi Chapel after the Arabic name for the hackberry tree which stood in the square in front of the building
The chapel is situated east of the St John – Mark Cathedral and is also within the confines of the medieval city. A stone dedication to our Lady of Deliverance over the main road dates its construction to 1777, during the tenure of Bishop Antoine Barakat. The chapel houses the Wakim Nakhle family vault but is also used for worship by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart School. The chapel is laid out in the form of a trapezoid with a single nave formed by two bays covered with groin vaults. This ends in a round horseshoe apse with niches on either sides, all incorporated in the east wall. The paving is of local stone. The north and south walls each have one rectangular window. The main entrance in the west facade has one rectangular window on either side of the door with its own smaller single window above that.
The Church of Our Lady of Deliverance ( Saidet el Najat – Orthodox
Approximately 80m beyond the St. John – Mark Cathedral , on the promontory ) overlooking the ancient medieval port of Byblos, lies the Greek Orthodox church of Our Lady of Deliverance. The church faces east and is skirted on its northern side by an asphalt road which leads down towards the port. The remaining sides are enclosed by a garden which at one time harbored a small cemetery. It has a solitary nave covered with three groin vaults and terminates in a semicircular apse which juts out on the exterior east wall. The apse is more recent and possibly dates from around 1804, about the same time the Baz family built the St Takla Chapel with its similar stone arrangement and small arch over the niche in the apse. The altar deviates from the central church axis giving the impression it was built at a later stage.
The church plan is rectangular measuring 8.80m wide, 7m high and is around 24m long. each of the supporting walls of the nave contains four square buttresses wider at the top ends than in the middle , the trapezoidal south- west buttress is hollowed out at the top allowing several steps to reach the roof terrace which is has a clay surface. Between the buttresses are medieval loophole windows as well as more recent rectangular windows.
Our Lady of the Gate Chapel ( Saidet al bouabet – Maronite)
During the Dahdah family’s administration of Jbail in 1763 this little chapel was restored and gifted to the Maronite Order of Baladite monks. The simplicity of the chapel’s interior is characterized by a barrel vaulted ceiling and a nave which terminates in a semicircular apse with a cornice at the departure of its half dome.
St John – Marc church
A beautiful Romanesque church, Eglise Saint Jean Marc is the cathedral church of Jbail-Byblos, a town with the majority 80% Christian population. The Church is dedicated to Saint Jean Mark, the patron saint of the town, who is said to have founded the first Christian community of Byblos. The church itself was built in 1115 A.D by the Crusaders, originally as the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. After their departure, earthquakes, invasions and other disasters have repeatedly damaged the structure, and for a few centuries it remained disused. In 1764, Emir Youssef Chehab, of the Druze dynasty that ruled a semi- autonomous Lebanon under the Ottomans, donated the church to L’Ordre Libanais Maronite (Lebanese Maronite Order) which subsequently restored and reopened in 1776 after re-dedicating it to St Jean Marc. British bombardments of Lebanon in 1840 caused further damage, but the church was restored yet again. Eglise Saint Jean Marc continues to serve the Maronite Christian community. One interesting feature in the church is its open- air domed baptistery on the northern side which dates from the original construction in 1115 A.D, The church is situated on Rue de Port, between the port and the archaeological area.
THE CRUSADER CASTLE
The south-east corner of the medieval wall marks of the crusader’s castle and its fortifications. They built this defensive citadel after having conquered Byblos in 1104 AD and it dominated ancient city. The approach to the castle from the piazza is up a ramp supported by two small arches. On the left hand side of the ramp lie a series of groin vault rooms fronted by a terrace that were used by Maurice Dunand as his home while he excavated Byblos. Under this ensemble is a large barrel vault room which abuts the east medieval wall. The room is paved with large stones and covers a roman mosaic which continues north under the wall of the room and terminated in the remains of an apse in an empty lot, east of the Emir Yusuf Chehab mosque. The mosaics in the empty lot are visible from the outside.
Fossils found in Lebanon are one of the more uniquely interesting scientific attributes of the country. Scattered mainly throughout four sites around Byblos, these mostly fish fossil deposits also include invertebrates ,tetra pods and plants and are still being found on three of the sites , namely in Haquil, Hajula and En Nammoura . the fossils, which date back 100 million years, are amongst the most famous in the world and are not only in a par with examples found in the USA, Italy , Germany and Brazil but often surpass them in quality and number . In 1993, the Directorate of Antiquities opened a museum in Byblos in the centre of the Old Souk to house, protect and exhibit these rare treasures. The museum is located in a typical 19th century shop with 7 groin vault ceilings, alongside or under numerous large and small specimens of the fossils from the four main sites are explanatory panels. A small garden at the back of the shop is open for use by visitors.
LE KHAN, LE SERAIL, LA LOCANDA
On the left hand side, opposite the first of two main entrances to the Old Souk, is a khan or caravanserai composed of a patio and several groin vault rooms. The building was redeveloped in recent years and now houses shops and restaurants.
A small dual story roofed serial (early ottoman government building) occupies the left hand corner of the entranceway. Adjacent to the road on the ground floor is a porch with two doorways covered with pointed arches. Beyond the porch are rooms with groin vault ceilings resting on pillars. Access to the first floor veranda is up an open stone staircase on the east side of the building. This second floor contains a central hall stretching the entire length of the construction with rooms on either side. The entrance to the hall is through a triple arched door.
Located near the serial and on the left hand side of the entrance to the souks is the ‘Locanda’, a typical 19th century Lebanese house with a tiled roof. It has a veranda with a triple arched door and two windows and is built over a number of shops.
The Medieval City Wall and two Gallery Houses:
The remaining trapezoidal medieval wall of the ancient Byblos is around 275m long on its east side and 398m on its north. It follows the natural lay of the land to the port. Originally ending is two rectangular towers built to defend the medieval port entrance. One of the towers was part of the castle’s south wall but very little remains of it aside from its black Aswan granite shafts still visible in situ under water.
The second tower is still in existence and, on the whole, is well preserved. It was built on a double level of timber creating a flat surface for it base. The west wall segment which stemmed from this second tower and joined the north section has disappeared, making way for a road and a hotel. The northern segment with it seven towers is the best preserved. These vary from between 10.5mto 5.5m in height and between 12m and 4.20m in width. All the walls exhibit differences in their stone work due to the frequent reconstruction work that was carried out at different times, particularly as of 1187 under Saladin’s rule. The time span is reflected first in the use of large medieval stones and later by smaller Ottoman stones used first to build and later to repair the wall. The large tower on the NE corner of the wall contains a smaller tower in its interior. A water reservoir filled the space between the two. The east wall has two towers as well as the east entrance to the medieval city. It is connected directly to the Crusader castle. Some sections of it have been reconstructed over time. Houses were added during the Ottoman period. These are typically Lebanese houses of the age and are known as “Gallery
houses” based on the design which endowed them with an upper galleried floor.
THE OLD SOUKS
The souks date from the end of the 19th century Ottoman period as attested by two marble slabs centrally located on the north wall of the market street. The shops lining the cobblestone street were built in sandstone and have barrel and groin vault ceilings. Pinewood awnings, protected by red Marseille tiles, were rebuilt in the original style and hang over the doorways. Stone-paved sidewalks offer easy access to these shops were a variety of items both local and foreign appeal to most tastes and budgets. Further down the street, a small arched alleyway on the right leads on the additional shops. This modest collection and restored or reconstructed buildings grouped together in a living tableau of a bygone period have been designated a historical monument.
THE ROMAN ROAD
Upon reaching the old city, look for parking which is available in one of the public designated areas or along the paved road. To reach the lower basin where the Old city is located simply walk down the public sidewalk or take one of the stairways that lead directly onto the “historical road”.
As it was the original main Roman entrance to the town the ‘historical road’ is bordered by 4.80m high columns with granite shafts, marble bases and marble Corinthian capitals. The road itself is 9.50m wide and is composed of large paving stones either cambered or slightly elevated in the middle and which still bear the ruts of ancient chariot wheels. The road runs under a section of the old souks and arrives at the ‘Nympheum’ lying at the base of the north- east tower of the Crusader castle. Proceed over the main cobblestoned street and straight down the pedestrian walkway lined with the shops to the old souk area that is indicated by two stone sarcophagi and located within the perimeter of two main entrances.
The Shuttle Bus:
The bus timetable varies according to the time of years
May to November: 9 am to 1 am every day, every 7 to 10 mn
December to May: 12 noon to 6pm every day, every 7 to 10 mn
the bus follows a circuit going from the top of the Roman Road ( Beirut, Tripoli highway) to the Souk, along the medieval North Wall to the Port via Citadel square and the Saint John Mark Cathedral before returning back via the Souk , to the Roman road.
THE TWO GALLERY HOUSES:
The first of these “gallery houses”, which are at one time housed a UNESCO office, comprises two floors typically of the style. The ground floor is a large room with a barrel vault ceiling. The east wall has a rectangular window surmounted by a segmental arch, the west façade has a large opening with a pointed arch .three doors in the façade are surmounted by segmental arches and one door has a lintel. Part of roof is covered with red Marseille tiles.
Access to the first floor is by way of an exterior stone stairway supported by a rampant arch. This floor has a large living room covered with wooden stringers with two west-facing and two south- facing windows. Three openings in the east wall give on to a gallery with 3 pointed arches supported by columns with bases. Two additional rooms with 2 windows each, also open on to the east façade. One additional intervening room features a ‘Mandaloun’ (two lobed arches with a central column as in mullion window) window supported by a relieving ARCH AND ONE small rose window, which gives onto the east facade. The lobed arches are supported on 3 corbels. These rooms, plus the large living room and the stairway entrance on the west side, all gives onto a west gallery which has 4 pointed arches supported by columns with bases. A portion of the roof is covered with red Marseille tiles.
The second “gallery” type house is located near the corner of the east wall close to the north-east tower and it also comprised of two floors but with a flat terraced roof. The ground floor, occupying part of the east medieval wall, has rooms with groin vault ceilings. On the first floor is an arcaded gallery on the east side with a covered balcony for protection from sun and rain.
The Wax Museum
This small wax museum offers the visitors a quick trip through the most important events in Lebanese history. It starts in antiquity and ends with Lebanese independence with glimpses at its aristocratic princes and their way of life as well as a look at rural Lebanon and its traditions before reaching the modern state of Lebanon
The museum is open from 9am to 6 pm.
Pepe Abed Fishing club
The BYBLOS FISHING CLUB which dominates the port area of the city was established in 1963 by the mercurial “Pirate de la Mer”, Pepe ABED. A well- known entrepreneur , adventurer, restaurateur and amateur archaeologist , Pepe Abed imbued the fishing club with his divers specialties to the delight of many illustrious local and foreign visitors making the club a center of erudite and eclectic public curiosity. His life and times are narrated through the timeless memorabilia of hundreds of unique photographs of famous guests who called in at the club and which cover the walls of the entire establishment. The museum, juxtaposed to the restaurant, contains the result s of his deep sea diving exploits: jewelry, ancient amphorae, anchors, statues and capitals, all laid out for visitors to see. The Fishing Club is a must-see experience for anyone visiting Byblos.