On the third day, 3 November 09, of our visit to Lebanon there was no let up in the rain, so we set off prepared to get soaked again on the second day of our guided tours. Travelling north from Beirut along the coast we visited the Unesco World Heritage Site at Byblos, then Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city, and returned to Beirut in the late afternoon.
You can see our stops on the map below:
View Lebanon Day 3 in a larger map
Our visit to Byblos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, began at the harbour. Not satisfied with the wetting from rain water, during a sunny interval Kath tried (and very nearly succeeded) to get soaked with sea water on the harbour wall.
Byblos lays claim to being the longest continually inhabited city in the world having first been settled in 5,000BC, with the first signs of town in the 3rd millennium BC around the beginning of Phoenician civilisation.
The centre piece of the current archaeological site is the crusader castle built in the 12th Century from indigenous limestone and the remains of earlier Roman structures. The site is well worth a visit and in addition to the crusader castle features Phoenician and Roman remains.
The picturesque old parts of town are round the archaeological site. The old souk features the ‘Byblos Fossil Museum’, which displays (and sells) locally collected fossils of marine life from the Cretaceous period.
From Byblos we travelled north to Tripoli, which has a very rich history. Within Lebanon, it is apparently well known for the production of ‘sweets’. So at the recommendation of our guide we visited a rather nice cafeteria selling a selection of sweets and cakes to eat on the premises or carry out.
This was followed by a trip round the souks, which are clearly much used by locally shoppers didn’t present much of interest to tourists except to perhaps the most dedicated shopper. The highlight of the souks was a visit to a caravansary or khan, where handmade soap is produced by a local family.
On our way back to Beirut we had a late lunch of fish dishes at a restaurant by the sea.
Byblos is well worth a visit, but Tripoli less so. The visit to Byblos might have been better combined with the National Museum in Beirut where many artefacts from Byblos and other archaelogical sites can be viewed.