The Roman Empire was at its territorial peak under the reign of Trajan in 116 AD
In the 2nd century AD the Roman Empire reached its greatest expansion, extending over 5 million km sq. The network of paved roads covered over 100 000km. From works of art to temples, the Roman culture stretched from Scotland to the Sahara, and from the Iberian Peninsula to the Near East.
The Via Appia is the oldest and most famous of the grand military roads of Ancient Rome, called ‘Longarum Regina Viarum”, Queen of the long distance roads.
During the course of millennia the Phoenician civilization developed and expanded across the Mediterranean towards Cyprus, Crete, North Africa and Southern Europe, thanks to their navigation expertise.
The starting port was Jbeil, ancient Byblos, the end of the land trail that came from Palmyra, Damascus, Baalbek and the Bekaa Valley and sometimes from the Middle and Far East. This road was used under the Roman Empire for military, administrative, commerce and pilgrimage purposes.
Essentially, there were two roads that ensured a strategic interest and importance to these regions:
– Rome-Brindisi known as the Via Appia
– Byblos-Damascus via Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley,to be called the Via Appia Orientale
A multitude of cultures found along these roads, traces of which can still be found today, contributed to an immense commercial, spiritual and intellectual exchange.
Activities of the Local Action Group (LAG) Via Appia-Byblos:
LAG Via Appia Byblos has a permanent show room at UNESCO Square to sell locally produced products year-round. It organizes a weekly farmer’s markets for traditional products and crafts from the Byblos region.
– Some typical products: marzipan, olive oil, dairy products, jams, honey, carob molasses, soaps, candles, juices and fruit syrups, rose water, orange blossom water, essential oils, wine, arak.
– Crafts: Basketwork, metal work, pottery
– Fish fossils: Hakel, Hadjoula and Ennamoura (fish, crustaceans, fossil plants).
– The annual Flower Market on March 21st kicks off the Byblos summer tourist season.
Tours throughout the Roman provinces in Lebanon–
LAG Via Appia Byblos organizes visits of the Roman road within the Jbeil area:
– the archaeological site of Byblos (World Heritage site): Roman Nymphaeum, theater and forum
– Fidar bridge
– Adonis River aquaduct
– MACAM Modern and Contemporary Art Museum at Alita
– Machnaqaa sanctuary (temple and funerary stelae)
– Yanouh (Roman temple, Byzantine basilica, medieval chapel, Maronite patriarchal seat)
– Aquoura: The rock-hewn stairs of Darjet Semaan and imperial Roman forest reserve
– Afqa: Water source and Roman temple