Saida is a very old settlement going back at least 6000 years. Once the wealthy Phoenician city of Sidon, it was invaded by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs who called it Saida, the Crusaders and the Mamluks.
This is a photo of Saida's medieval Sea Castle built by the Crusaders in the 13th century.
Sidon (Saida) is said to mean "fishing", and even today fishermen moor their boats in the small picturesque port. Sidon was the third great Phoenician city-state, rivalling Byblos and Tyre as a naval power. It lies in the middle of an oasis of citrus orchards. The scent of their blossoms announces the city long before one reaches it. The city is home to some 200,000 inhabitants spread from the old city all the way to the overlooking eastern hills of Hillalieh, Majdelioun and Aabra.
Sidon is one of the famous names in ancient history. But of all of Lebanon's cities this is the most mysterious, for its past has been tragically scattered and plundered. In the 19th century, treasure hunters and amateur archaeologists made off with most of its beautiful and important objects, some of which can now be seen in foreign museums. In this century too, ancient objects from Sidon (Saidoon is the Phoenician name, Saida in Arabic), have turned up on the world's antiquities markets. Other traces of its history lie beneath the concrete of modern constructions, perhaps buried forever. The challenge for today's visitor to Sidon then is to recapture a sense of this city's ancient glory from the intriguing elements that still survive.