Set 36 miles (58 km) outside the capital city of Beirut, the ancient city of Anjar is literally a Lebanon attraction unlike any other. While many of the ruins in Lebanon existed under a multitude of rulers, the fortified city of Anjar was occupied solely by the Umayyad dynasty during the 8th century AD when it flourished for a mere number of decades. This city's Opulent rulers eventually fell to the Abbasids, but at one point their influence stretched from the valleys of India to the shores of southern France. With the exception of a mosque in nearby Baalbek, Anjar is the only place in Lebanon which provides an example of the Umayyad period.
Located in the fertile Beqaa valley amid the Anti-Lebanon mountains and along a prosperous trade route between Beirut and Damascus, Anjar made a perfect summer retreat for the ruling dynasty. Disrepair and earthquakes eventually took their toll on the city which was once protected by walls over 6 feet thick and filled with over 600 shops. The once bustling town of Anjar was left unexplored until its eventual excavation in 1949.
Today visitors can amble past the partially restored walls of the main palace and gaze at Umayyad graffiti which dates to 741 AD. Wandering the grounds of the sprawling 1.2 million square ft. compound can take a couple of hours, and a bevy of Lebanese and Armenian restaurants are situated around the city grounds. Although there are no accommodation options readily available in Anjar, lodging can be found in the nearby town of Chtaura, or, for those making a day trip from Beirut, a host of tour operators depart directly from the city.