The oldest town in the world might surprise some travelers. Byblos is a surprising city and was thought to be founded in 7000 B.C. by early man. It has been continuously inhabited since 5000 B.C. as well. That surpasses many old cities such as Jerusalem or Cairo.
The city has seen many rules over the years, including Alexander the Great and Ottomans. Byblos is located about 26 miles north of Beirut. The Greeks and Romans considered the city important for papyrus shipments. The harbor is quite old and resembles what it looked like in the ancient world. That saves the aura of the city.
Crusaders and Mamluks once battled for control over Byblos. There is an old Crusader fort still present in the city today. Famous conquerors such as Saladin and Baibars once controlled the city over time. Power shifted back and forth until the World War 2 era. The French Mandate of Lebanon created a territory for local inhabitants. Lebanon then declared its independence and the rest is history. The 2006 Lebanon War had a harsh impact on Byblos though. That war covered the harbor and city with an oil slick. That was the result of an explosion at a nearby power plant.
The sandy beaches and ruins are appealing to modern day tourists. Conde Nast Traveler named Byblos the second best city for travelers in the Middle East. The World Travel Organization declared that Byblos was the best Arab city for tourists during 2013. The Byblos Wax Museum showcases artifacts remaining from the Phoenician era. The Byblos Fossil Museum has a lot of marine life on display. Sharks and rare fish can be seen in fossil form at the museum. Byblos International Festival is a popular music event that caters to people. Both locals and tourists enjoy the music played.
Religion has been a focal point for Byblos over the centuries. The Sultan Abdul Majid mosque has amazed many tourists so far. That is a Muslim mosque dedicated to the great leader of Islam. The mosque was built during the 1600s and has been a big factor for local religious groups. The Crusaders are still prevalent in the city as of today. The St John the Baptist Church was started there in 1116. It is a medieval relic and offers a glimpse at belief during that span of time. There is also a historic quarter with many old houses and remains from a bygone era.
Yacht cruises take passengers out into the Mediterranean sea. Famous people like Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra were once visitors to the city. They raised awareness about the popularity of the city so far. The Mediterranean makes it popular for people to own their own boat. The harbor allows a limited number of boats, but tourists can enjoy seeing them dock. Departures and arrivals for the boats are worth a look as well. Check for the Roman theater built in Byblos around AD 218. It is a multi-faceted city that people love.
How to get to Byblos
By car: Take the northbound road from Beirut past Jounieh and follow the signs to Byblos (Jbeil in Arabic). By bus: Head to the Charles Helou Bus Station in Beirut and hop on the next bus to Byblos for 5,000 LBP, or get on the bus to Tripoli and ask your driver to let you off in Byblos