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 down power of their Islamic Empire within their family. This ancient city sits at the crossroads between important cities during that time.  It is 60 km from both Beirut and Damascus and is 120 km from both Homs and Tiberias.  Anjar was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

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Anjar was built as a palace city and is neatly divided into four quadrants.  The palace of the Caliph and the Mosque is found in the southeast quadrant which is also the highest place in the city.  The smaller palaces for the harem and princes as well as the baths are found in the northeast quadrant.  Other living quarters and secondary offices are located in the northwest and southwest quadrants.  The entire complex is surrounded by stone walls and flanked by forty towers.  However, this city was never completed.  It was abandoned after the defeat of Caliph Walid’s son, Caliph Ibrahim in 744.  In the 1930s, Anjar was resettled by a few thousand Armenian refugees who still live there today.

DSCF1572Remains of the thermal baths built in the Roman style

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DSCF1577Small Palace

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DSCF1586Remains of the mosque that used to be in front of the Caliph’s Grand Palace

DSCF1599The Grand Palace with a central courtyard surrounded by a peristyle.

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DSCF1594Our guide demonstrating how soldiers stood guard in these niches at the Grand Palace

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DSCF1602This marks the center of the city and the crossroads from Beirut to Damascus and from Homs to Tiberias.

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DSCF1608Apparently the Caliph ordered the builders to complete construction of the city in 10 years.  These builders went and collected parts and pieces from other Roman sites in order to save time.  If you look at the bases and the pillars, most of them don’t match.

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Next post will be on the beautiful Jeita Grotto, one of the finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the Natural World.  Stayed tuned!

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