Deir el Qalaa is 700m high, at the Eastern side of Beirut city at the entrance of the town, Beit Meri. It overlooks an exquisite view of Beirut city. On the top of the site the church of the monastery is seen. It is named after St. John the Baptist. It was built in 1750 on the remains of an ancient Roman temple.
After the first church was ruined, another church was built in 1768, and a third one was constructed in the twentieth century. In the construction process stones from the second church were used.
During the Roman period there were huge stones which were used as foundations for the temple that was dedicated to the god, Baal Marqoud. This temple dates back to the first century. It occupies the third rank (40 meters long; 17 meters wide) after Baalbeck and Niha. Some of the remaining columns of the façade of the temple (diameter 1,65 meters) adorn the square at the church entrance today.
On levels that are lower than the monastery there are small temples. One of them was dedicated to the goddess Venus (11 meters long; 8 meters wide), who was known by the Phoenicians as Astarte. This temple was built during the reign of the Roman emperor, Trianous (98 – 117A.D.). There is a large entrance that separates the two temples, and Latin inscriptions that indicate that the entrance was built to honor the Roman emperor.
In front of these temples, there are remains of a Byzantine city (it dates back to the 5th and 6th centuries). The church is paved by mosaics and it contains geometric figures, birds, and Christian rituals. It was restored during the sixth century during the reign of Justinian.
Near the church there are Roman baths (Hammams). In this spot, the floor is broken so we can see the columns made of ceramic. There are also paved aisles and doors that lead to the storehouses. We also notice the dwelling places, the mills and the roads with their draining tunnels.