Like most coastal cities in Lebanon, Sidon (Saida in Arabic), 25 mi/40 km south of Beirut, was a Phoenician settlement founded around 4000 BC. Its name means "fortified," but this didn't stop a long list of invading armies over the centuries.
An earthquake inflicted heavy damage in 1837, but there's still plenty to see: the picturesque Crusader Sea Castle (on a small island connected to the mainland by a walking bridge), the Great Mosque (originally a Crusader church) and a colorful souk with a traditional Soap Museum. Be sure to visit the Khan al-Franj, near the souk. Originally an inn for traveling merchants, it has been restored and now serves as a cultural center. The Temple of Eshmoun is north of town and is one of the best-preserved Phoenician sites in Lebanon.
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