Less well known than the Great Roman Temple which is attributed to Jupiter – Heliopolis just like the temples of Baalbeck, the sanctuary of Faqra also has on its side a small temple originally pagan and backed by a proto-Byzantine church, which overlooks one of the streams of the Nahr Kalb River.
Open to the North East, the temple was attributed to the Phoenician goddess Atargatis thanks to a dedication discovered on the spot and which dates from the 1st century AD. The structure will then be transformed into the baptistery of the Basilica located alongside it, in particular with the reuse of a pagan worship tank for this purpose.
See the photo gallery
Consisting of a rectangular cella 18 meters long and 9 meters wide, the basilica would have been built at the request of Agrippa II and his sister Berenice as a wish to obtain better health.
This sovereign, King of Chalcis, today Aanjar, will also build many structures in the region, including a theater known in Berytos, today Beirut, just as he will participate in the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple of this city in 70 AD.
Atargatis was the sovereign goddess of waters and springs hence the construction of this structure next to one of the original springs of the Nahr Kalb River or Lycus River at that time. She presented herself as having the body of a fish and the face of a woman and resided in a lake today cited in Syria. Arousing the jealousy of Aphrodite, also present not far from there through the cult of Adonis, she will become the lover of a mortal, Caÿstros whom she will end up killing out of shame and will have a daughter from him, Semiramis. His cult will spread thanks to the Hellenic invasions in Egypt, Greece and even in Macedonia.
Semiramis, to continue the story, will herself be the legendary founder of the city of Babylon.