The town of Jbeil, also known as Byblos in English, was a favourite of mine. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and has a history that goes back 8000 years! Jbeil was discovered in 1860 by Ernest Renan.
It is also one of the towns in Lebanon that has preserved a traditional ambiance, which is felt especially when walking around the “souk” (or bazaar). The narrow cobble stone streets are surrounded by a medieval wall and it is great to stroll around for a few hours to enjoy the little bars, restaurants and shops.
The World Cup had just started as we arrived in Lebanon. I was surprised to see flags from all the countries everywhere we went: in front of people’s homes or on their cars, hanging in the street, and even the beers had a special edition for the World Cup.
The first time we went to the city, we spent a few hours learning about the various civilizations that came by the port of Byblos throughout history. The best preserved archaeological site is the Crusaders castle, which was built in 1108, after the conquest of Byblos in 1104. Throughout the site you can notice a superpositioning of Persian and Roman structures. You can notice some columns and a Roman theatre in the site.
After visiting the castle, we headed down to the port, which is mainly a fishing port now. The entrance still has one of the remaining towers that was built in medival time, which allowed ships into the port. There are several restaurants with great views on the marina and the sea. We went to a restaurant called Azrak (which means blue in Arabic) and the open air restaurant is floating on the water. We had great appetizers and a nice meal, with a bottle of Lebanese wine and sheesha. The view was beautiful and the fresh air and wind added to the ambiance. We enjoyed it so much that we went back to eat there with friends for our last dinner in Lebanon.