Known in ancient times as Heliopolis, Greek for “City of the Sun”, the modern name may be connected with the ancient Canaanean God Baal. The ruins of the ancient town are centered around the acropolis, which incorporates the Temple of Jupiter (completed over the period of 200 years) and the Temple of Bacchus, which was erected around 150 AD. Both Temples were dedicated to the Heliopolitan triad – Hadal, the Syrian God of Thunder, Atargatis, the Syrian Goddess of Nature, and a youthful god who was a protector of crops. These ruins are important relics of what is now called pagan cults.
Baalbek was founded in the Phoenician period. After its conquest by Alexander the Great, it was named Heliopolis. The Romans later built their own temples there, more grandiose than those of Rome itself. During the Christian period, a church was built in honor of St. Barbara. In the year 634 AD a huge Mosque and a school were built within the walls of the temple compound, which was converted into a citadel.