While hanging around Mount Hermon, we visited the temple of Ain Hirsh. It is an impressive one. Impressive in the sense that it is almost intact. The roof is missing and the floor has caved in, but the walls are in place. It is a small one, and rather isolated, which mean you’re almost always the only one there.
What I also find impressive is– just coming out of Europe – that it doesn’t have a fence. There is no entrance fee, no line up to enter, and no little pamphlets that will explain its origin. Partially due to the dense population in Europe, you will rarely see ancient monuments that are not exploited. Here you can walk around, touch it, climb on it, and look in every nook and cranny.
It’s on a mountain side, high above the village of Ain Hirsh, and stands there, abandoned for over hundreds of years. An inscription sort of dates it back to AD114, but it may have been built before that time, and was probably abandoned in the fourth century when christianity replaced the ancient religion of the Roman Empire.
To the ancestral god, Alexander, son of Alexander, following a vow, with his wife, for his children, has raised this altar, year 429.” This year corresponds to the year 114/115 A.D (Link)
Why they would built so many (there are over 30 around Mount Hermon) of these sanctuaries way up high, sometimes surrounded by sarcophagi, is unknown. It’s amazing, and a bit scary too, how all this knowledge can just disappear. The mountain used to be considered holy, (‘the semantic field to which ‘hermon’ belonged covered the notions of ‘forbidden’ and ‘sacred’. Link) but that is how far as it goes.