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Lebanon's Saida Castle stands the test of time

The castle of Saida has in Lebanon's Sidon has survived for eight centuries.

Source : / 13 Dec 2013

The Lebanese city of Saida has remained politically and economically significant since ancient times. The city was invaded in the 13th century by crusaders who built a castle on a hill overlooking Saida which is still standing and silently watching over the city as it has been doing in the last eight centuries.

Saida, also known as Sidon, has been under the rule of various empires and states. Ottoman Turks conquered the coastal city in the 16th century, which was a considerable step for controlling Mediterranean trade routes. Built on a small island, the castle is 30 km south of Beirut. Having survived many earthquakes and military attacks, the castle has stood the test of time.

On the island, which is linked to the city with an 80-meter road, there used to be a palace of Phoenician King and a temple dedicated to Phoenician gods. When the city was besieged by the Assyrians, the people found a safe haven in the castle. The palace and temple were demolished due to earthquakes. The castle was heavily damaged during the campaign of the Mamluke Empire in the 15th century, but the Mamlukes who captured the city restored the castle.

The castle was used the early years of Ottoman rule in the city, however, after its strategic importance started to diminish, it was abandoned. By the 17th century, the castle was in ruins. However, it was soon renovated by the Ottomans and a mosque was built inside it. Today the castle has two towers. The columns, which reflect a Roman style, indicates the castle's extensive history. The tower on the left is seemingly very well preserved and there is also a room inside it.

The other tower is mostly in ruins, but the mosque built in the Ottoman period was able to survive throughout the years. From the castle, visitors are able to enjoy an unprecedented view of both Saida port and the city. The castle has silently been witnessing the city's social, political and architectural transformation for eight centuries. 


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