On top of my world in Byblos
Born and raised in the oldest inhabited city in the world, I thought I knew everything about Byblos, until I came across the #makeheritagefun campaign. It wasn’t about snapping a photo, nor trending the concept on social media. It took me a lot of thinking to find the perfect spot for my selfie and the perfect exposure for the landscape shot, and then I realized that any city can be researched online at any time, any monument can be googled, it was about sharing a personal experience not a photograph . This experience was about exploring a side of the city that I never knew, even though I’ve been everywhere hundreds of times. When I came across this workshop I wanted to show the world the glorious beauty of my land. However it took me a glimpse to realize that I wanted to see its beauty first, I wanted to go beyond the usual morning walks and the late night cruise in the old streets.
As I stood on the highest point of the archeological site I understood why my city was such a magical destination. The main tower of the citadel is the highest point of the archeological site in Byblos. The citadel is composed of 5 towers, one on each edge of the citadel and the main core in the center. The crusades were the ones who built the citadel and applied their defense strategy in their architecture. The towers were used to observe the sea as well as the valley in order to protect the city against foreign attacks. The main towers served as a shelter in case of emergency in addition to being the army base of the city. It is composed of several entities in which weapons, provisions and potable water were stored. It overlooks the old Phoenician city; traces of the houses are still showing as well as the wall that was surrounding the city and protecting it from unwanted visitors. The citadel was built over the ruins of the Phoenician city and embraces the traces of 17 different civilizations. From the highest summit of the citadel, the old house shows standing alone, as it remains the only architectural heritage from the French era that colonized Lebanon. The US Embassy donated an amount of money a few years ago in order to renovate the Main Tower as it has been closed for the past 19 years. Since it was re-opened in 2015, tourists have been crawling their way up to observe the panoramic view of the city that extends from the archeological site towards the new urban expansion, all the way to the mountains. My first experience from the top has left me breathless, I have visited the site for the past 24 years, and each time history influences my experience in an unusual way.
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