The city of Anjar was founded by Caliph Walid I at the beginning of the 8th century. The ruins reveal a very regular layout, reminiscent of the palace-cities of ancient times, and are a unique testimony to city planning under the Umayyads.
Founded during the Umayyad period under Caliph Walid Ibn Abd Al-Malak (705-715), the city of Anjar bears outstanding witness to the Umayyad civilization. Anjar is an example of an inland commercial centre, at the crossroads of two important routes: one leading from Beirut to Damascus and the other crossing the Bekaa and leading from Homs to Tiberiade. The site of this ancient city was only discovered by archaeologists at the end of the 1940s. Excavations revealed a fortified city surrounded by walls and flanked by forty towers, a rectangular area (385 x 350 m).
Dominated by gates flanked by porticos, an important North-South axis and a lesser East-West axis, superposed above the main collectors for sewers, divide the city into four equal quadrants. Public and private buildings are laid out according to a strict plan: the great palace of the Caliph and the Mosque in the South-East quarter occupies the highest part of the site, while the small palaces (harems) and the baths are located in the North-East quarter to facilitate the functioning and evacuation of waste waters.
Secondary functions and living quarters are distributed in the North-West and South-West quarters. The ruins are dominated by spectacular vestiges of a monumental tetrapyle, as well as by the walls and colonnades of the Umayyad palace, three levels of which have been preserved. These structures incorporate decorative or architectonical elements of the Roman era, but are also noteworthy for the exceptional plasticity of the contemporary decor within the construction.
Anjar was never completed, enjoying only a brief existence. In 744, Caliph Ibrahim, son of Walid, was defeated and afterwards the partially destroyed city was abandoned. Vestiges of the city of Anjar therefore constitute a unique example of 8th century town planning. Built at the beginning of the Islamic period, it reflects this transition from a protobyzantine culture to the development of Islamic art and this through the evolution of construction techniques and architectonical and decorative elements that may be viewed in the different monuments.
Anjar site is among the 5 Unesco world Heritage sites in Lebanon