TIME CAPSULE

Lebanon 2014 | TOURISM & RETAIL | PHOTO ESSAY: BYBLOS

Considered the oldest constantly inhabited city in the world, Byblos offers locals and tourists a chance to visit a living archeological site.

While a relatively small city in population, Byblos more than makes up for this with its long and distinguished history. Known in Arabic as Jubayl, people are thought to have first settled the area between 8800 BC and 7000 BC. According to mythology, Byblos was built by Cronus, one of the titans of ancient Greece, and was the first Phoenician city. Today, it is widely believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, which is one of the reasons that led to it becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Over the years, almost all the major empires of the world have passed through or had control of the city, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, and Ottomans, before coming under French mandate and eventually achieving independence in 1943. This mix of rulers has left the city with a unique mix of architecture and ruins scattered all around the city. People come from all over the region these days as tourists to see the wide variety of archaeological sites on display, such as ancient Phoenician temples, Byblos Castle, medieval city walls, mosques, and the Historic Quarter and Souks.

While many come to see the old city, Byblos has also developed a modern city to cater to the needs of the many travelers than pass through. During the summer, the city has regularly hosted the Byblos International Festival, which attracts musicians from all over the world to play in its Historic Quarter. The Byblos Fossil Museum also displays the region's historical inhabitants from nature's point of view and offers visitors the chance to see fossilized fish, sharks, and eels, some of which are millions of years old. With the city being on the coast of the Mediterranean, there are numerous beaches where locals and tourists alike relax. The city's proximity to the mountain ranges of Lebanon also provides many nature excursions for tourists to consider.