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Saida (Sidon)

Saida, or Sidon, has a fascinating and unique history. One of the most powerful Phoenician city states, it made a name for itself the world over with its expert glass manufacturing and the invention of purple dye, which has ever since been synonymous with royalty.

 

As with most ancient city-states in the region, Saida has seen quite a number of conquests in its time, as evidenced today by its Roman ruins and the Crusader castle that overlooks the harbor, among many other historic buildings. Later came the Mamluks and the Ottomans, of course, and finally in the 17th century the unprecedented Fakhreddine II, who seems to have left his trace all over Lebanon and beyond, but made Saida his home and the seat of his government.

 

Saida has been inhabited since at least 4,000 BC, and Homer wrote about it in the 8th century BC, noting how skilled was the glass production there.

 

The city is positively stuffed with things to do, see and eat, from the excellent souk with its famous soap factory to its equally famous bakeries and confectioners. 

Ayyoubid Dynasty Mamluk Period Phoenician Period Greek Period Roman Period Crusader Period Umayyad Period Byzantine Period Ottoman Period Emirate Period French Mandate Saida (Sidon) District South Lebanon Spring Summer Autumn Winter

Things to do

Grand Omari Mosque (Saida)

Facing the northern tip of Sidon's harbor, the Omari Mosque is said to be one of the finest examples of Islamic religious architecture of the 13th...

Saida Soap Museum

Beautifully restored and expertly designed, the soap museum building dates back to the 13th century, though the soap factory per se was built in the...

Old Souks of Saida

Saida’s old town easily rivals its counterparts across the region. Extraordinarily well preserved, the cool, winding streets of the souk retain their...

Debbaneh Palace

This gorgeous 18th century house has all the classic elements of an aristocratic Arab-Ottoman home, with a generous, richly-ornamented central space...

Temple of Eshmun

The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing and one of the most important divinities of...

The Saida War Cemetery

The Saida War Cemetery was opened in 1943 by units of British forces occupying Lebanon after the 1941 campaign. It was originally used for the burial...

Sea Castle (Qal'at al-Bahr)

Visible from the corniche as one pulls into the center of Saida, the sea castle was built by the Crusaders in the 13th century on top of a Phoenician...

St. Louis Castle

The ruins of this once-impressive castle stand on a mound to the south of Saida. The present structure dates back to the Crusaders, who built on the...