(Roman Temples and skiing 60 km)  

    Faqra, approached through a labyrinth of limestone formations known as “houses of ghosts,” is known for its temples and its good skiing. The temple site is also the venue of a summer cultural festival.
   The temples of Qalaat Faqra at 1,550 meters are the most extensive Roman ruins of all Mount Lebanon. 

The site is dominated by a huge tower 15 meters square, which originally had a third story and a pyramid-shaped roof. An interior staircase leads up to top. A Greek inscription on the north-east corner of the tower and another above the door indicate that the building was restored by the Roman Emperor Claudius in 43 AD.
    About 50 meters north-west of the tower is a large altar, probably associated with the tower itself. Not far away is a colonnaded altar. The main temple, dedicated to a “very great god,” is a rewarding place to investigate, with its restored columns and the remains of an altar. It had a square courtyard which was surrounded by a colonnade on three sides.
    Continuing down the slope you reach the small temple, dedicated to “the Syrian goddess,” a local form of the goddess Atargatis. Also note the basin in the floor and the benches along the side wall. This temple was made into a church in the 4th century AD.
    The ski trails of the Faqra Club, located south of Ouyoun es-Siman (Faraya-Mzaar) at 1,750 meters, overlook the sea and the bay of Beirut. Members only, but special arrangements are available for tourists.
    Also in the Faqra area is the Jisr el Hajar, or natural bridge carved over the centuries by wind and water. The 34-meter bridge is so perfect it is hard to believe it was created by nature.  
    Once a Roman-Byzantine settlement, the entire site is littered with remains of more temples, a second bath and a colonnaded street.


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