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Sidon (Saida)

Sidon (Saida) - An excursion in Beirut, Lebanon
Sidon or Saida is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km south of Beirut. Its name means a fishery. It is a city of 200,000 residents, mainly Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Christian Greek Catholic and Maronite. Saida is locally called "The Capital of the South". It is the center of the Saida District in the mainly Shiite Zahrani region. The city is nowadays famous as the birthplace of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Sidon has been inhabited since 4000 BC and perhaps as early as Neolithic times, 6000 - 4000 BC. It was one of the most important Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest. From here a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded. Sidon was known for its skilled craftsmen producing glass and highly prized purple dye that over time became known as the color of royalty. As early as the 14th and 15th centuries BC, Sidon had a reputation as a commercial centre with strong trade links with Egypt. The city has had many conquerors: Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and finally Romans. Both Jesus and Saint Paul are said to have visited it. The city was eventually conquered by the Arabs and then by the Ottoman Turks. Sidon – Saida provides a strong feeling of ‘living history’ with its mosques, khans and old markets still very much in use. Places to visit include Sidon Sea Castle, a fortress built by the Crusaders in the early 13th century and located near the Port of Sidon. The Sidon Soap Museum traces the history of the soap making in the region and its different manufacturing steps. Between the Sea Castle and the Castle of St. Louis stretches the old town and a picturesque vaulted old market. Khan el Franj was built in the 17th century to accommodate French merchants and goods in order to develop trade with Europe. The Castle of St. Louis, built by the Crusaders in the 13th century, is located south of the old souks near Murex hill. The temple of Eshmun, the Phoenician God of healing, was built in the 7th century BC and is located in the north of Sidon near the Awali river. Buses and service taxis from Beirut to Sidon leave from the Cola bus station. The drive takes about one hour. With express bus, it takes 30 minutes.

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More to do and see in Beirut
» Skiing and winter sports
» Hiking and trekking
» Beaches and Seaside
» Caves
» Zahlé – The Bride of the Bekaa Valley
» Tyre (Sour)
» Jounieh
» Chouf Mountains
» Byblos (Jbail)
» Bekaa Valley
» Baalbek – the ‘Sun City’

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