Umayyad city ruins

The Umayyads might be unknown to most Europeans. It is a clan of the Quraysh, the Arabian tribe from Mecca whom also the prophet Muhammad belonged to. They were the ones who conquered Spain and when their caliphate was at the greatest extent it reached from there via Northern Africa to the Middle East, the Arabian peninsula and Western Asia. At عنجر, Lebanon you can visit the ruins of one of their cities created in the 8th century – which is today a UNESCO world heritage site.

This status was granted as the city is an example of early Islamic city design. The structures of this ancient city in the Beqaa valley are well visible. Most destroyed is the quarter where the people were living, best-preserved are the 600 shops located in another section. It is a city developed after a clear plan and divided into zones for different purposes. Two roads called Decumanus and Cardo (a sign of Roman influence) cross the city. You can also visit the palaces for the king and the queen(s), the mosque and a bath.

Anjar never got old – already after a few years, it was destroyed (around 744 CE). It is still unclear if the destruction happened as side effects of the war between two Umayyads or if one of them intentionally burned it down. During the last occupation of Lebanon by Syria, the Syrian forces used the temples in Anjar as their base. That doesn’t seem to have caused much destruction – but still today there isn’t enough funding to preserve the site and to start excavations.

By the way: the inhabitants of the modern city of Anjar are nearly completely Armenians. It was founded by Armenians how survived the genocide committed by the Turks in 1915.

Umayyad city ruins
عنجر / Anjar

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