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plain, and the part of the mountain to the distance of a league and a half round the town, was covered with grape plantations, but the oppressions of the governors and their satellites have entirely destroyed them; and the inhabitants of Balbec, instead of eating their own grapes, which were renowned for their superior flavour, are obliged to import them from Zahle. The first view of Palmyra, in which the entire ruins are beheld covering the desert, is infinitely more striking than that of Balbec, or than any other ruins in the world. It is like some vision of departed glory, which one has beheld in a dream—so strange and beautiful, so shadowy and solemn, look the slender flights of columns in the desert of sand, as if this was not their birth-place, and they but waited their time to go hence. But there is a massiveness and grandeur about the temple of Balbec which is wanting in that of the former. This great temple, elevated about eighteen or twenty feet above the surrounding level, must have been supplied with a magnificent flight of steps, of which no vestiges are left, leading up to the portico. A doorway, partly blocked up, leads into the first court of the interior, which is of large dimensions. To this succeeds an open quadrangle, oblong, and of still greater extent, surrounded by a series of large recesses, alternately square and circular, which seem designed for separate sanctuaries, all enriched with appropriate architectural decorations, and all profusely ornamented, like every other part of the edifice, with the beautiful niches terminating in the grooved shell. A bold cornice above gives a fine effect to the whole. In so vast a pile, and such endless details, there can scarcely be too much richness, although an eminent traveller observes, "the stone groans beneath the weight of its own luxuriance; chapels, niches, friezes, cornices, all display the most finished workmanship, belonging rather to a degenerate period of art, and distinguished by that exuberance which marked its decline among the Greeks and Romans. This impression can only be felt by those whose eyes have been previously exercised by the contemplation of the pure monuments of Athens and Rome: every other eye will be fascinated by the splendour of the forms, and the finish, of the ornaments of Balbec." A spacious and highly ornamented doorway is situated at the right-hand extremity of this area; but whether it conducted to some other part of the structure, now destroyed, or was a less important entrance from without, the intervention of the external wall makes it difficult to determine. Roofless and dismantled as this interior has been for so many ages, time has been merciful in sparing so much of it; of the numerous statues, not a fragment remains. In so dry a climate and pure an atmosphere, the progress of decay is very slow; even the spacious vaults below this temple, which are connected with each other, and built of enormous blocks of stone, are perfectly free from damp, and still used as repositories for grain.


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