One of the most powerful cities in ancient Phoenicia, Sidon has weathered numerous battles, giving it some of the world’s most fascinating medieval sites and ruins. This Mediterranean port city is also blessed with contemporary shopping boulevards, cultural festivals and traditional Lebanese restaurants.
Things to do
The 13th-century Sidon Sea Castle is one of the most prominent sights on the city skyline. Built by crusaders, this Romanesque fortress features an Ottoman-era mosque and views of the harbour from the western tower. The historical heart of Sidon, Old City runs from Sidon Sea Castle to Saint Louis Castle. Wander through this vaulted maze of narrow alleyways to find traditional bazaars, old-world bakeries, mosques and preserved ancient homes.
Need a break from history? Head to East Boulevard for high-end designer boutiques and international brand-name stores, such as Jack & Jones, Timberland and Mango. Seek out more retail therapy in Sidon Mall and Le Mall, which also features children’s entertainment, restaurants and cafes.
Sidon still retains some of its traditional hammams, such as the 18th-century Al Ward Hammam, where you can relax for hours while being pampered by hot steam baths. If culture is on your itinerary, visit Sidon during the Nights of the Khan festival, which includes poetry and religious song and dance.
About two kilometres northeast of Sidon sits the revered Temple of Eshmun, built in 700 BC as a place to worship the Phoenician god of healing. Today, you can admire the remains of ancient temples, shops and mosaics. An hour’s drive along the coastline gets you to Lebanon’s fast-paced capital city, Beirut.
Sidon’s compact size and close gathering of attractions mean you can walk around the city quite easily. Alternatively, catch a taxi to any destination or ride in a minibus to nearby Beirut.
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