Temple of Jupiter
- The Ruins
- children under 8 free, guides USUS$14 per hr
- 08:30-30 min before sunset
Lonely Planet review for Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter was built on an immense substructure over 90m long, and was approached by another monumental staircase that rose high above the surrounding buildings. It consisted of a cella in which the statue of the god was housed and a surrounding portico of 10 columns along the façade and 19 columns along the side, making for 54 columns in all. These columns are the largest in the world - 22.9m high with a girth of 2.2m.
Today only six of these remain standing with the architrave still in position. It was thought in the old days that Baalbek had been constructed by giants and a quick look over the side of the temple to the foundation stones beneath reveals some of the largest building blocks to be found anywhere on earth. One of these megalithic blocks measures 19.5m by 4.3m and is estimated to weigh over 1000 tonnes - how it was moved and positioned so precisely remains a mystery.The building of such extravagant temples was a political act as much as one of piety. On one hand, the Romans were attempting to integrate the peoples of the Middle East by appearing to favour their gods; on the other, they set about building jaw-droppingly immense and beautiful structures to impress indelibly upon the worshippers the strength of Roman political rule and civilisation. Even so, the deciding factor in building on such a massive and expansive scale at Baalbek was probably the threat of Christianity, which was beginning to pose a real threat to the old order. So, up went the temples in an attempt to 'fix' the religious orientation of the people in favour of pagan worship. By this time there were no human sacrifices, but temple prostitution remained, while Baalbek had become one of the most important places of worship in the entire Roman Empire.