LebanonArt Press


 VR Mag

Issue 11 - April/May 2003 - Reviews
Issue 26 - August 2006 - Reviews

by Michelle Bienias
see also:

Lebanon -- a beautiful country rich with geographical, cultural and religious diversity -- isn’t a place that is well represented in the VR community, therefore I was pleased to receive an email from William Matar directing my attention to LebanonPanorama, his website that brings this small country to life with 52 VR panoramas (in Java). After visiting his website and viewing the VRs, I’m moving Lebanon to the top of my “must-see-soon” list.

The bilingual site (English and French) is extremely easy to navigate and simple in it’s design. The main page includes a map of the country, which is broken into five regions, where one can click to select VRs within each region. All VRs are accompanied by very informative descriptions of the area, including its history and main attractions. In fact, the descriptions alone are worth a visit to the site, original to the site and done in-house.

This country of 4 million is only 4,180 square miles (10,452 km) but rich in beauty and steeped in history, its people and culture a mixture of both Mediterranean and Arabic influences. While Arabic is the national language, most people also speak English and French.

Check out the aerial VR of Beirut, the ancient Phoenician city of wells and capital of Lebanon, picturesquely nestled on a promontory between the sea and Mount Lebanon and home to one million inhabitants.

The VR of Zahleh, located in the Beqaa valley in eastern Lebanon, shows the red-roofed town set among the foothills of Mount Sannine. It calls itself ‘The City of Wine and Poetry’ due to its high concentration of poets, writers and local wineries. Although Zahleh was founded only 300 years ago, the history of the area dates back five millennia.

Of course, Lebanon is rich in archeological treasures, with some of the most magnificent found in and around the town of Baalbek, in the Bekaa valley 85 kilometers northeast of Beirut, popular in ancient times as a passage and barter center. The Greeks called Baalbek Heliopolis (helio for sun, polis for city) but inhabitants of the valley call the town Baalbek, or God of the Valley. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. a grand religious complex was built and dedicated to the gods of the Semitic triad, also known as Jupiter, Venus and Adonis. The two VRs of the world’s largest Roman temple complex, entitled the ‘Monuments of Baalbek’, show the stunning ruins of these temples.

The three VRs included here are just a sampling of what you can view on the site, and William tells me he is considering redesigning the site in QuickTime or Flash.

You can also visit Matar’s companion websites: LebanonArt.com, his father's art site; LebanonArt.net, an art portal; and LebanonPostcard.com