Major Cities - Saida
 

Saida

Sidon, on the coast 48 kilometers south of Beirut, is one of the Famous names in ancient history. But of all of Lebanon's cities this is the most mysterious, for its past has been tragically scattered and plundered.
In the 19th century, treasure hunters and amateur archaeologists made off with many of its most beautiful and important objects, some of which can now be seen in foreign museums.
In this century too, ancient objects from Sidon (Saidoon is the Phoenician name, Saida in Arabic), have turned up on the world's antiquities markets.

Saida

Other traces of its history lie beneath the concrete of modern constructions, perhaps buried forever.
The challenge for today's visitor to Sidon then is to recapture a sense of this city's ancient glory from the intriguing elements that still survive. The largest city in south Lebanon, Sidon is a busy commercial center with the pleasant, conservative atmosphere of a small town. Since Persian times this was known as the city of gardens and even today it is surrounded by citrus and banana plantations.

A long and glorious history
There is evidence that Sidon was inhabited as long ago as 4000 B.C., and perhaps as early as Neolithic times (6000 - 4000 B.C.). The ancient city was built on a promontory facing an island, which sheltered its fleet from storms and served as a refuge during military incursions from the interior. In its wealth, commercial initiative, and religious significance, Sidon is said to have surpassed all other Phoenician city states.
Sidon's Phoenician period began in the 12th - 10th century B.C. and reached its height during the Persian Empire (550 - 330 B.C.). The city provided Persia, a great land power, with the ships and seamen  to fight the Egyptians and the Greek, a role that gave it a highly favored position. The Persians maintained a royal park in Sidon and it was during this time that the temple of Eshmoun was built.
Glass manufacture, Sidon's most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale and the production of purple dye was almost as important. The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.

 

Today the castle consists primarily of two towers connected by a wall. In the outer walls Romans columns were used as horizontal reinforcements, a feature often seen in fortifications built on or near former Roman sites. The west tower is the better preserved of the two.

Old prints of the fortress show it to be one of great beauty, but little remains of the embellishments that once decorated its ramparts. After the fall of Acre to the Mamlukes all the sea castles were destroyed to prevent the Crusaders from re-establishing footholds on the coast.

Saida

Source: Ministry of Tourism

Back