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To understand the Middle East you must ﬁrst get to grips with Lebanon. Straddling the ﬁne line between East and West, this tiny speck of a nation has often fallen off course as it walks a tight-rope path through the convoluted and complicated politics of the region. But the fusion of cultures and religions here, once the cause of so much of this nation’s tragedy is also the force which creates the unique Lebanese joie de vivre, and it’s this infectious vitality that charms all who come here. Delve into this exuberant land of divine food, ruins galore and achingly beautiful scenery and you’ll soon be dancing a dabke of glee along with the locals.
Although small, Lebanon has a lot to offer. Contained within an area roughly half the size of Wales are wonderfully inspiring ruins and some of the most varied scenery the Middle East can offer, not to mention the region’s most vivacious and cosmopolitan capital. Despite its size, the country’s rugged terrain tends to make distances deceiving.Read more
If you want a history fix, Lebanon doesn’t disappoint. The Roman temple complex of Baalbek will awe even the most ruin-weary of travellers with its sheer size, elaborate decoration and excellent preservation. This may be Lebanon’s most famous ruin, but there are plenty of other historic sites to explore. To the southeast of Beirut, the sumptuous palace of Beiteddine is an immaculately restored Ottoman gem that was once home to the powerful Shihab family that ruled much of present-day Lebanon in the 19th century.
When you’ve had your fill of history why not head inland for the best of Lebanon’s scenery. There is so much variety here that you’ll be spoilt for choice, although trekking amid Mount Lebanon’s massive vistas of craggy peaks and snail-paced mountain hamlets is surely a highlight. The Qadisha Valley in this region showcases some of the best scenery Lebanon has to offer; you can hike amid lush farmland and soaring peaks to early Christian cliff top monasteries.
During winter, Mount Lebanon’s ski resorts come into their own and the sleepy mountain retreats turning into bustling centres of activity. At The Cedars, for example, you can pay your respects to the mighty Lebanese cedar, symbol of the nation, before getting to grips with the excellent slopes and high-quality powder.
Places of interest in Lebanon
Awesome in their scale and mesmerizing in the richness of their decoration, the golden-stoned temples of Baalbek,...
Rising sharply from the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon range is home to some of the most spectacular and varied...