The Bacchanalian Feast

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I must admit I have been slack with posts recently. But in between working on restaurants for a few Hyatt properties in Dubai, a Japanese restaurant in Riyadh and a nightclub, I have been entertaining my passion for exploring the ruins of ancient civilisations of the Middle East. Which is of course the history of the Western World. This venue is not a restaurant or bar. Its so much more than that. The precursor of the most hedonistic of social spaces.

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I recently took myself to the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon a World Heritage site,  one of the best preserved and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world. This is where consumption of the finest wine and food, sublime music and parading of superb physical beauties….debauched Bacchanalian parties on a grand scale would have taken place.

It was built in the Roman City of Heliopolis  after 150 AD and is 66m long, 35m wide, and 31m high. The storm god Ba’al was worshipped in this temple. And you can see from the photos I took, one mother of a 3 day storm was brewing over Lebanon. The amazing site is just 10 km from the Syrian border and deep in Hezbollah territory, but well worth leaving your comfort zone. Its rather unusual for an ancient roman temple to have completely enclosed walls, but I think you can guess the reason for that.

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Centre bottom of the above aerial, is the temple of Bacchus. Merely one third of the size of the colossal Temple of Jupiter above left, with only 6 columns standing. The rest of the site is the Great Court, where animal sacrifices took place.

Stills from the excellent Spartacus Prequel, Gods of the Arena – Bacchanalian orgy, to give you an idea. Watch  the series if you haven’t!

Photos by the author, except aerial.

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