Niha Bekaa

33.89472222222235.963611111111Koordinaten: 33 ° 54 'N, 35 ° 58 ' E

Niha, Arabic نيحا Niha; is a village on the western edge of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. It is known for its well-preserved Roman temple.


Niha belongs to the district of Zahle Bekaa within the province. The village lies at 1100 meters altitude in a valley cut on the eastern slope of Jebel Sannin, whose summit is the highest point of the southern Mount Lebanon with 2682 meters. Wrinkle Rich steep hills tower above as an offshoot of this massif the place in the north and south by about 150 meters.

From Zahle, a side road leads Baalbek six kilometers to the northeast until branching off a two-kilometer long access road in the mountains shortly after the village Ablah. The town spreads out in a valley behind a hill from which obstructs the view of the Bekaa Valley. The neighboring villages of Nabi Ayla in the south and Temnine el- Faouqa and behind Qsarnaba in the north are at a similar level in other mountain valleys. They are also only accessible to branch roads from the plane.

In the vicinity of the place viticulture is mainly operated next to apple, peach and almond trees are planted in the planes of the side valleys and terraced areas to the steep slopes. In home gardens and roadsides grow fig trees.


The urban area has a total area of 9.7 square kilometers. Niha is - probably since the 19th century - a village with an almost purely Christian population. The in the valleys adjacent to the north villages are against Shiite. There are two churches for the 1000 to 3000 permanent residents living in the place; the Orthodox Church is dedicated to the prophet Elijah. It dates from the late 19th century and is located a few meters south of the Roman temple area. The other church is for the Maronites. Fall on the houses on small Marian devotion courses, several large Christian crosses are erected on the hill in the south.

The supply of drinking water is carried from springs that emerge from the limestone in the mountains above the village. The altitude makes Niha as a summer resort for expatriates attractive to the cities, returning to the home during the hot season.

Roman Temple

The archaeological site is located on the upper exit from the left below the road in a wooded river valley. Here are two temples have been preserved from Roman times in different states. Since the middle of the 2nd century the Romans built on the edge of the Bekaa many small temples and other holy places, which usually relate to the main town of Heliopolis, Baalbek today.

The better-preserved temple west, beyond the creek was built in AD in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. He was consecrated to the Syrian- Phoenician Thunder and Rain God Hadaranes ( Hadad ) and the fertility goddess Atargatis. The entrance of the sanctuary with outer dimensions of 32 × 14 meters lies in the east. It is a prostyle temple with a ( dialed ) outer row of four Corinthian columns and behind two inner Ionic columns. To the podium on which stood the temple, led up a broad staircase. This is still partly present. At its front is stone blocks were right and left with reliefs. The left relief is obtained and shows a standing man with a pointed cap on his head. The priest wears two round plastic heads on his chest, representing a god and a goddess. In his left hand he holds a bunch of plants as water sprinklers, with the right he pours out a cup of water on a small altar.

The architrave above the middle door is divided (horizontal stripes) in three fasciae. The frieze above is decorated by dentils, kymation and laterally by curved brackets. At the bottom of the lintel, an eagle is shown with outstretched wings in the center. The eagle is similar to that on the lintel of the Bacchus temple in Baalbeck, but keeps the local a garland of flowers in one of its claws and a palm branch in the other. On the right side is a relief is with a naked boy with wings and a palm branch in her left hand. In addition, holding a winged goddess with a palm branch in her left hand over a crown with the right hand to the head of the boy. On the left lintel appears the same goddess of victory.

The temple interior is composed of a cella, whose walls are broken down with half-columns, and a higher one meter Adyton located at the rear end. There were six ionic semi-columns on the side Cellawänden and in the corners two juxtaposed quarter pillars. A central staircase leads up to the higher area, which once contained the statue of the god. A crypt under the Adyton housed the need for the religious ritual objects. As the Bacchus Temple, this temple was used for sacrificial cults of initiates.

The great temple was spilled into the 20th century by a landslide, at the rear end he was buried up to 15 meters, the front staircase was still a meter below the ground. In the 1950s, he was exposed by Syrian archaeologists and extensively restored in 1967.

A few meters away is at the bottom on the other side of the stream a smaller Temple ( B), which was dedicated to the same deities. His entrance was to the south. It was a simple prostyle temple with four featured columns without porch. The columns stood on Attic bases. The massive square of the longitudinal walls are preserved up to the third position, as is the stairway in full width on the podium. The cella walls inside were unadorned. From the two-meter high Adyton remains of the stair step structure are obtained. The small temple is older than the great, he may have come from the 1st century. Since a water channel was directed into the interior of the temple, it is believed that this temple was used for purification rituals and was open to the public.

The archaeological area is fenced and accessible to entry. On the northern side of the valley, a narrow driveway leads three kilometers further to the above located on a rocky hillside temples of Hosn Niha.