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(Source of the Adonis River and Temple of Venus 71 km)

Afqa is the sacred source of the Adonis River (modern Nahr Ibrahim), where the waters emerge from a huge grotto in a cliff 200 meters high. It is here that the myth of Venus and Adonis was born. The story goes that while out hunting, Adonis was killed by a wild boar. Venus (the Phoenician goddess Astarte), who was his lover, tried to save him but she was too late. And so it is the blood of Adonis that each spring turns the torrential river to red.

Across from the grotto are the remains of the Roman Temple of Venus. Walk down the stone steps at the side of the structure to appreciate its massive size. A curved tunnel, still visible beneath the foundations, was used to channel water. Growing from between the temple’s great stones is a fig tree with bits of material tied to its branches, a carryover from ancient tradition which attributed special powers to this spot.

Although the temple was destroyed by the Christian Emperor Constantine (285 - 337 AD), it was later rebuilt by Julian the Apostle (362 - 363). The Adonis-Astarte fertility  rite continued in Lebanon into the 5th century AD.

Afqa is reached via Qartaba, turning right at the town of Majdal. The final half kilometer of road is a little rough.

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