Monumental, jagged rock formations amidst which emerge two Roman temples and a Byzantine church: the site of Faqra is very impressive. Situated at 1500 meters of altitude, on the sea side of Mount Lebanon, Faqra is composed of different zones, the most important of which are the rocks, the Large Temple, the Small Temple and the Byzantine church.
The Rocks Zone
These rocks composed of layers of sandstone and limestone were shaped by erosion and the area is scattered with narrow crevasses. The main attraction offered by this rocky view is Jisr el Hajar, a natural bridge carved out of the rock and overhanging the river of Nabaa El Laban.
The Large Temple Zone
The Large Temple Zone is the most important monument of the site of Faqra. The necessary space for the construction of this complex must have been carved out of the rock. Three sides of the temple seem blended in the surrounding rock.
The time of construction of this monument remains unknown to date. Its construction has probably stretched over several centuries. Some inscriptions found on the temple stones indicate that the sanctuary (the sacred space formed of the altar and the temple) was built between the 2nd and the 3rd century. A particular inscription reveals the date of 240/241 when the region was under the reign of the Roman emperor Gordian III.
The Tower Zone
Built during the 1st century AD, this area includes three monuments; the most important being the tower; all that remains of it is the ground floor. We don’t know exactly what the tower was used for. At first it was thought that the tower had a funerary function, and then that it might have been used to watch the surrounding areas. Today, most experts think it was a religious monument.
About 50 meters away, is the great altar, with its square base of 5.30 meters from each side. The altar was a ruin when a German archaeological mission decided to restore it in the early 40s.
Another smaller monument is located down the slope, fifty meters from the tower too. It is called the colonnaded monument, for it presents a twelve-column portico, of 1.50 meters high each.
The Small Temple or the Temple of Atargatis Zone
The temple of Atargatis is built south of the large temple. Atargatis is a goddess whose name appears on one of the temple’s inscriptions. Specialists concur today that the construction of this monument goes back to the 1st century AD.
The Byzantine Church Zone
The foundations of this church were discovered during the excavation works carried out in the early 60s.
The church looks like it lays against the northern wall of Atargatis Temple and it is thought to be built in the 5th or 6th century. Christianity was officially embraced at the beginning of the 5th century by the Byzantine State. The destruction of pagan temples was then allowed, and those temples were sometimes turned into churches. The temple of Atargatis was too small to be adapted to the new religious functions; this is probably why the Byzantine church was annexed. It was built on a rectangular plan and it measures about 23.5 m by 12.5 m. The outside walls of the church are mainly made of limestone blocks.