The Cedars of God (Arabic: أرز الربّ‎ Arz ar-Rabb “Cedars of the Lord”), located in the Kadisha Valley of Bsharri, Lebanon. “Some believe that patch was where the resurrected Jesus revealed himself to his followers,” says Antoine Jibrael Tawk, an author of books on the cedars. These 2,000-plus-year-old trees are some of the last remaining mature examples of the once extensive forests of Lebanon. Some are 15 metres or more in circumference. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria donated money to build a stone wall around this grove to protect the trees from marauding goats. Visiting this grove of massive trees offers a sublime encounter with a mythical past. That the poet, artist, and writer of “The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran, was born near here is not surprising given the areas’ rich history. Not far away are the ruins of the ancient city of Baalbek, inhabited since 9000 BCE. (Order a print)

The stone wall and amphitheatre Queen Victoria funded in the 19th Century to protect the threatened grove of cedars.

Temple of Baalbak Columns

The Roman temple in Baalbak, near the ancient Cedars of Lebanon. The temple is the best preserved Roman ruin from antiquity. The Corinthian columns are tree-like. Jackie Craven writes: In the world’s first architecture textbook, “De architectura” (30 B.C.), Vitruvius tells the story of a young girl from the city-state of Corinth. “A free-born maiden of Corinth, just of marriageable age, was attacked by an illness and passed away,” writes Vitruvius. She was buried with a basket of her favorite things atop her tomb, near the root of an acanthus tree. That spring, leaves and stalks grew up through the basket, creating a delicate explosion of natural beauty. The effect caught the eye of a passing sculptor named Callimachus, who began to incorporate the intricate design onto column capitals. Because the sculptor found this design in Corinth, the columns that bear it became known as Corinthian columns.

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