official_name = Sidon
native_name = صيدا
imagesize = 300px
image_caption = View of the new city the Sea Castle. Part of the Sea Castle in front.
dot_x = |dot_y =
pushpin_map_caption =Location in Lebanon
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = Flag|Lebanon
subdivision_type1 = Governorate
subdivision_name1 = South Governorate
subdivision_type2 = District
timezone = EET
utc_offset = +2
timezone_DST = +3
Sidon,or Saïda, (Arabic _ar. صيدا "transl|ar|Ṣaydā"; Phoenician , Shiite, Greek Catholic and Maronite.
Sidon was inhabited since 4000 BC and perhaps as early as Neolithic times (6000 - 4000 B.C.). It was one of the most important
Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest. From here, and other ports, a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded. Homerpraised the skill of its craftsmen in producing glass and purple dyes. It was also from here that a colonizing party went to found the city of Tyre. Tyre also grew into a great city, and in subsequent years there was competition between the two, each claiming to be the metropolis ('Mother City') of Phoenicia. Glass manufacturing, 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.
In 1855 AD, the sarcophagus of King Eshmun’azar II was discovered. From a Phoenician inscription on its lid, it appears that he was a "king of the Sidonians," probably in the 5th century BC, and that his mother was a priestess of ‘Ashtart, "the goddess of the Sidonians." In this inscription the gods
Eshmunand Ba‘al Sidon 'Lord of Sidon' (who may or may not be the same) are mentioned as chief gods of the Sidonians. ‘Ashtart is entitled "‘Ashtart-Shem-Ba‘al" '‘Ashtart the name of the Lord', a title also found in an Ugaritictext.
In the years before
Jesus, Sidon had many conquerors: Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and finally Romans. Herod the Greatvisited Sidon. Both Jesus and Saint Paul are said to have visited it too (see "Biblical Sidon" below). The city was eventually conquered by the Arabs and then by the Ottoman Turks.
Like other Phoenician city-states, Sidon suffered from a succession of conquerors. At the end of the Persian era in 351 BC, it was invaded by the emperor
Artaxerxes IIIand then by Alexander the Greatin 333 BC when the Hellenisticera of Sidon began. Under the successors of Alexander, it enjoyed relative freedom and organized games and competitions in which the greatest athletes of the region participated. In the Necropolis of Sidon, important finds such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Lycian tomb and the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women were discovered, which are now on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museumin Istanbul.cite web |url=http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/turkey/istanbul/attraction-detail.html?vid=1154654614207 |title=Istanbul Archaeology Museum |accessdate=2008-05-10 |format= |work=The New York Times]
When Sidon fell under Roman domination, it continued to mint its own silver coins. The Romans also built a theater and other major monuments in the city. In the reign of Elagabalus a Roman colonia was established there, and it was given the name of Colonia Aurelia Pia Sidon. During the
Byzantineperiod, when the great earthquake of 551 AD destroyed most of the cities of Phoenicia, Beirut's School of Law took refuge in Sidon. The town continued quietly for the next century, until it was conquered by the Arabs in 636 AD.
. The remains of the original walls are still visible.
After Sidon came under Ottoman Turkish rule in the seventeenth century, it regained a great deal of its earlier commercial importance. After
World War Iit became part of the French Mandate of Lebanon. During World War IIthe city, together with the rest of Lebanon, was captured by British forces fighting against the VichyFrench, and following the war it became a major city of independent Lebanon.
Following the Palestinian exodus in 1948, a considerable number of
Palestinianrefugees arrived in Sidon, as in other Lebanese cities, and were settled at the large refugee camps of Ein el-Hilwehand Mia Mia. At first these consisted of enormous rows of tents, but gradually houses were constructed. The refugee camps constituted de-facto neighborhoods of Sidon, but had a separate legal and political status which made them into a kind of enclaves. At the same time, the remaining Jews of the city fled, and the Jewish cemetery fell into disrepair, threatened by coastal erosion.
In 1900 it was a town of 10,000 inhabitants; in 2000 its population was around 200,000. Although there is little level land around the city, some wheat and vegetables are grown and there is much fruit also; some fishing is carried on. The heavily-silted ancient port is now used only by small coastal vessels. There is also a refinery there.
A state-of-the-art stadium was inaugurated in 2000 for the Asian Football Confederation's Cup 2000.
*Sidon Sea Castle
Sidon Sea Castle is a fortress built by the
Crusadersin the early 13th century. It is located near the Port of Sidon.
*Sidon Soap Museum
The Sidon Soap Museum traces the history of the soap making in the region and its different manufacturing steps.
*Khan El Franj
Khan El Franj, which means “Caravan of the Foreigners”, was built by Emir Fakhreddine in the 17th century to accommodate merchants and goods. This is a typical khan with a large rectangular courtyard and a central fountain surrounded by covered galleries.
Debbane Palace is a historical residence built in 1721 AD and is open for the public for visitors to witness the Arab-Ottoman architecture and details of that era (18th Century). It is currently in the process of being transformed into the History Museum of Sidon. [ [http://www.museumsaida.org/english/projet.htm Welcome to Debbane Palace ] ]
Between the Sea Castle and the Castle of St. Louis stretches the old town and a picturesque vaulted old market
*The Castle of St. Louis or Qalaat Al Muizz
The Castle of St. Louis was built by the
Crusadersin the 13th century on top of the remains of a fortress built by the Fatimidcaliph Al Muizz. It is located to the south of 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.
The Biblical Sidon
Bibledescribes Sidon at various places:
* It received its name from the "first-born" of
Canaan, the grandson of Noah(Genesis 10:15, 19).
* It was the first home of the
Phoenicians on the coast of Canaan, and from its extensive commercial relations became a "great" city. (Joshua 11:8; 19:28).
* It was the mother city of Tyre. It lay within the lot of the tribe of Asher, but was never subdued (Judges 1:31).
* The Sidonians long oppressed Israel (Judges 10:12).
* From the time of
Davidits glory began to wane, and Tyre, its "virgin daughter" (Isaiah 23:12), rose to its place of pre-eminence.
Solomonentered into a matrimonial alliance with the Sidonians, and thus their form of idolatrous worship found a place in the land of Israel(1 Kings 11:1, 33).
* Jezebel was a Sidonian princess (1 Kings 16:31).
* It was famous for its manufactures and arts, as well as for its commerce (1 Kings 5:6; 1 Chronicles 22:4; Ezekiel 27:8).
* It is frequently referred to by the prophets (Isaiah 23:2, 4, 12; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Ezekiel 27:8; 28:21, 22; 32:30; Joel 3:4).
Elijahsojourned in Sidon, performing miracles (1 Kings 17:9-24; bibleref|Luke|4:26).
Jesusvisited the "coasts" of Tyre and Sidon (bibleref|Matthew|15:21; bibleref|Mark|7:24) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17).
* From Sidon, at which the ship put in after leaving
Caesarea, Paul finally sailed for Rome(Acts 27:3, 4).
*The account ascribed to the Phoenician historian
Sanchuniathonmakes Sidon a daughter of Pontus, son of Nereus. She is said there to have first invented musical song from the sweetness of her voice.
*Dorotheus (1st century BC) Greek astrologer
Rafik Hariri: Former prime minister of Lebanon
Fouad Sanioura: Current prime minister of Lebanon
*Europa: A maiden whom the Greek god Zeus supposedly abducted disguised as a white bull, was a princess of Sidon.
* additional notes taken from "Collier's Encyclopedia" (1967 edition)
* [http://tyros.leb.net/sidon Lebanon, the Cedars' Land: Sidon]
* [http://www.destinationlebanon.gov.lb/eng/Sidon/History.asp Destination Lebanon: Sidon]
* [http://www.fondationaudi.org/french/index.asp Fondation Audi] (includes a virtual tour of The Soap Museum and other heritage sites in the Old City)
* [http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Eshmun.html Sam Houston State University: Nicholas C. J. Pappas: The Inscription on the Sarcophagus of the Phoenician King Eshmunazar]
* [http://www.lebmania.com/photos/sidon/welcome.htm Notes on Sidon]
* [http://www.sidonexcavation.org/ht/ht_excavation.html Sidon excavations] ]
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