Anjar was a city of the Umayyad Islamic dynasty located in Lebanon, founded in the early 8th century by Caliph Walid I. Over the course of this century, Anjar’s setting at the centre of major trading routes allowed it to flourish into a commercial hub.
Following a defeat in the 8th century, Anjar was damaged and subsequently abandoned. Yet, it is this short history which makes Anjar such an important site. For, every aspect of what remains – it’s carefully planned layout, the large arches and colonnades of the palaces which once stood there – can all be dated precisely to the Umayyad period.
Iterestingly, Anjar was never actually completed.
Founded under the rule of Caliph Walid Ibn Abd Al-Malak, Anjar was a vibrant trading hub at the intersection of 2 important routes: one between Beirut and Damascus, the other crossing the Bekaa and linking Homs with Tiberiade.
However, in 744 AD, Anjar’s prosperity came to an end when Walid’s son, Caliph Ibrahim, suffered a defeat and the city was destroyed and abandoned, leaving behind the shadow of an 8th century city to be uncovered centuries later.
The remains of Anjar were only excavated in the 1940s, revealing the fortified city walls dotted with 40 towers, encircling a strict urban plan. The ruins included monuments and freestanding arched columns originally part of the Umayyad palace that has 3 preserved levels.
From 1939 onwards, Anjar was repopulated by Armenian refugees from Musa Dagh in Turkey.
Today, Anjar is an archaeological site listed by UNESCO for being such an excellent example of Umayyad architecture and is open to visit. Framed by stunning mountain views, Anjar is a site well-worth spending a few hours wandering around, reading the informative signs that guide you through the city’s history along the main streets that divide the residential area from the palace and ‘hamams’ baths.
Getting to Anjar
Situated on the Lebanon-Syria border, Anjar is just off the highway 30 road, an hour and a half drive from the capital city Beirut.