Baalbek – The temple of Douris

By chance I stumbled across an old photograph in the german photography book “Geschichte der Fotografie 1839 bis heute“, that included a photo of the forgotten temple of Douris in Baalbek, Lebanon.

It included the temple and some men that seem to have discovered it here in Lebanon, in the late 1840’s.

While my last year of being posted in this country nearly ended, I made the plan to visit the Beeka Valley again, just for the sake of taking a few photographs of the temple.

My lovely colleague Suzanna was so kind and showed my the location of the temple, since I was only familiar with Baalbek itself on my past trips here.

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After a short drive we stopped at a completely deserted ruin of the Qubbat Douris, that was built in 1243 as a muslim shrine and necropolis.

Unfortunatly, it was in a bad shape and the surrounding area was completely surrounded by old buildings an hundreds of cars and trashcans. Due to my limited time here, I didn’t find the chance to really portrait this beautiful structure. I will come back and hopefully I can work on some before and after photographs, to portrait not only the temple, but also it’s history.

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We continued our tour to Suzanna’s home, for some traditional lebanese food and came across some lebanese sheperds.

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In between, Suzanna showed us a structure, that was standing alone here on on of the countless fields. Unknown for it’s purpose.

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But before, Sven and me had a walk into the temple of Bacchus here in Baalbek.

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Coincidential, there was a exhibition about the history of the area here in Baalbeck and they also showed the photograph, that inspired me to visit this place again.

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Beautiful photographs, from a long forgotten time.

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A woman in traditional lebanese cloathing.

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After we finished our tour, we headed to the central mosque of Baalbeck – with Suzanna as our guide.

Sayyida Khawla, the daughter of Imam Hussein and great granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad was buried here in a sarcophagus.

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The interiour was massively decorated and showed not only traditional art, but also engraved suras from the Qur’an.

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We found pictures of martyrs all over the place. Fighters of Hezbollah, that died in battle.

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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to read the texts, I can only assume that these are prayers and stories of the martyrs.

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The sarcophagus.

Four meters long and three meters wide, made out of gold and silver. It contains the corpse of Khawla and has inscripted names of the imans on it.

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A heavy chandelier, to enlighten the shrine.

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And the names of the martyrs are enwritten here.

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I think that these are Tyammum stones.

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Colourful carpets.

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And suras on the walls and on the columns – Iranian decorations and hadiths.

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I hope we didn’t disturb his prayer.

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The mosque was quite empty, since we arrived around lunch time.

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The minarett of the mosque.

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After we finished our visit in the mosque, we walked across Baalbeck to  “Hadschar al-Hubla” – The stone of the pregrant women”.

Welcome to Baalbeck.

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Our Range Rover parked correctly underneath the roof of an abandoned gas station.

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The Stone of the south is the largest monolith, ever quarried.

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It’s weight is about 1000 tons and it was supposedly being intended for the Roman complex close to it.

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I’ve never seen such a heavy structure in my life before and I was speechless by it’s size. How can an ancient civilisation built such a vast structure without any known tools ?

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The second stone is yet to be excavated and weighs about 1200 tons. The whole area around these monoliths is still to be excavated and in 2014 there was another discovery of an even more massiv monotlith structure with about 1650 tons.

I hope to come back soon here, not to only take more photographs of the temple, but also to see how things went on here.

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