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Sidon,or Saïda, (Arabic: صيدا, Ṣaydā; Phoenician: , Ṣydwn; Greek: Σιδών; Latin: Sidon; Hebrew: צידון, Ṣīḏōn, Turkish: Sayda) is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km (25 mi) north of Tyre and 40 km (25 mi) south of the capital Beirut. Its name means a fishery. It is a city of 200,000 inhabitants mainly of the Muslim Sunni, Shiite, and Christian Greek Catholic and Maronite.
Sidon has been 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. Homer praised 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 Eshmun and 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 Ugaritic text.
In the years before Jesus, Sidon had many conquerors: Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and finally Romans. Herod the Great visited 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 III and then by Alexander the Great in 333 BC when the Hellenistic era 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 Museum in Istanbul.
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 Byzantine period, 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.
On December 4, 1110 Sidon was sacked in the First Crusade by King Baldwin of Jerusalem and King Sigurd of Norway. It then became the centre of the Lordship of Sidon, an important seigneury in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. During the Crusades it was sacked several times: it was finally destroyed by the Saracens in 1249. In 1260 it was again destroyed by the Mongols. 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 I it became part of the French Mandate of Lebanon. During World War II the city, together with the rest of Lebanon, was captured by British forces fighting against the Vichy French, and following the war it became a major city of independent Lebanon.
Following the Palestinian exodus in 1948, a considerable number of Palestinian refugees arrived in Sidon, as in other Lebanese cities, and were settled at the large refugee camps of Ein el-Hilweh and Mieh Mieh. 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.
Near the southern entrace to the city lies a 'rubbish mountain' called the Makab, a 600,000 cubic meter heap that reaches the height of a four-storey building. Originally created to dispose of the remains of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during the 1982 invasion, it is now the main dump for the city. Growing out of the sea, it has become an environmental hazard, with medical waste and plastic bags polluting nearby fishing grounds.
Religion In Sidon
Sunnis makes up (70%), Shiites and Christians both make up (30%).
- Sidon Sea Castle
Sidon Sea Castle is a fortress built by the Crusaders in 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 “Caravanserai of the French”, was built by Emir Fakhreddine in the 17th century to accommodate French merchants and goods in order to develop trade with Europe. This is a typical khan with a large rectangular courtyard and a central fountain surrounded by covered galleries.
- Debbane Palace
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.
- Old Souks
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 Crusaders in the 13th century on top of the remains of a fortress built by the Fatimid caliph Al Muizz. It is located to the south of old souks near Murex hill.
- Eshmun Temple
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
The Bible describes Sidon at various places:
- It received its name from the "first-born" of Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:15, 19).
- The Tribe of Zebulun has a frontier on Sidon. (Gen. 49:13)
- 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 David its glory began to wane, and Tyre, its "virgin daughter" (Isaiah 23:12), rose to its place of pre-eminence.
- Solomon entered 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).
- Elijah sojourned in Sidon, performing miracles (1 Kings 17:9-24; ).
- Jesus visited the "coasts" of Tyre and Sidon ( ; ) and from this region many came forth to hear him preaching (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17), leading to the stark contrast in to Korazin and Bethsaida.
- From Sidon, at which the ship put in after leaving Caesarea, Paul finally sailed for Rome (Acts 27:3, 4).
Saida has been locally dubbed "The Capital of the South" in reference to the city's location at the entrance of the Southern Lebanon Governorate, aside to being the economic, industrial, commercial and administrative capital of the governorate. Saida is also the center of the Saida District which constitutes, besides the city, the mainly-Shiite Zahrani region. The district is currently represented by 5 MP's in the parliament: 2 Sunnis, 2 Shiites, and a Greek Melkite Catholic seat to represent the Christian population in the district. The Christians are mainly settled in the eastern suburbs of the city in densely populated villages such as Abra, Majdelyoun, Bramiyi, Miyyi w Miyyi, Kraye, Maghdoushe & Darb El-Seem, thus forming an urban belt around the city. This sectarian and demographic division rose to the surface during the civil war when armed clashes ignited between the pro-Palestinian Muslim city and the anti-Palestinian Christian suburbs. The clashes ended with the surrender of the Christian front, and the Christian citizens were displaced to the largely Christian Areas in east Beirut. Nevertheless, the war ended in 1990 and since then the Christians have gradually returned to their hometowns. However, the Sunni-Christian tension was replaced by Sunni-Shiite tension in the district. Ever Since the Hariri assassination in 2005, Lebanon has been divided between two large coalitions: 14 March Coalition (anti-Syrian) & 8 March Coalition (pro-Syrian). Saida, being the hometown of Rafik Hariri, generally lined with the anti-Syrian bloc while the rest of the largely-Shiite Zahrani region generally lined with Hezbollah. This sharp division led to severe clashes on 7 May 2008 in Beirut between the Sunnis and the Shiites, with minor altercations extending to Saida. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, Saida city is separated from the Zahrani region in accordance with the 1960 election law. Saida will be represented by 2 Sunni MP's in the Lebanese parliament. After a tough battle between the 8 March coalition and the 14 March coalition, the 14 March sweeped the city with its two candidates Minister Bahia Hariri and Prime Minister Foad Siniora with 24,000 votes, just 10,000 votes ahaed the 8 March candidate.
- The account ascribed to the Phoenician historian Sanchuniathon makes Sidon a daughter of Pontus, son of Nereus. She is said there to have first invented musical song from the sweetness of her voice.
Twin towns - Sister cities
Sidon is twinned with:
Dorotheus (1st century BC) Greek astrologer.
Zeno of Sidon, an Epicurean philosopher of the 1st century BC, who was born in the city of Sidon in Phoenicia.
The Cananite woman of Sidon a lady from Lebanon, and a persuasive phoenician, ( ; ) who met the Son of god and got him to heal her daughter.
Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
Adel Osseiran, co-founder of modern Lebanon.
Rafic Hariri, former Prime Minister and late leader of the Future Movement.
Sheikh Mohamad Osseiran, Jaafari Mufti of Sidon.
Riad Solh, former Prime Minister of Lebanon who also participated in Lebanon's independence from the French.
Takkie El Dine Solh, former Prime Minister, died in Paris.
Sami Solh, former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
Rashid Solh, former Prime Minister of Lebanon.
Raymond Audi, former Minister of Refugees, Siniora former government of Lebanon.
Bechara Nammour, International Businessman and Entrepreneur.
Bahia Hariri, Minister of Education, Siniora former government of Lebanon. Bahia Hariri is the only sister of the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Presently, Bahia Hariri is a member of the Lebanese Parliament and was re-elected in June 2009.
Maarouf Saad, former deputy representing Saida in the national parliament and founder of the Popular Nasserite Party. He was assassinated in 1976 in an event that pushed the nation nearer into civil war.
Ali Yasin, International Businessman and Entrepreneur.
Moustapha Saad, son of Maarouf Saad and former deputy representing Saida in the national parliament. Moustapha Saad was a target of an attempted assassination in 1986 in which his daughter Natasha was killed and he lost his eye sight. His wife was also seriously injured in the explosion that ripped through their home in Saida. He was a political figure respected by both Christians and Muslims of Saida and its surroundings.
Ousama Saad Son of Maarouf Saad and current deputy representing Saida in the national parliament.
Saida Hardoon, Stony Brook University Scholar.
- "Istanbul Archaeology Museum". The New York Times. http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/turkey/istanbul/attraction-detail.html?vid=1154654614207. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Lebanese city's mountain of rubbish BBC
- Mountain of rubbish overwhelms Sidon Emirates Business
- Sidon chokes under rubbish dump iloubnan.info
- Syringes plague Sidon beach as dump spills medical waste Daily Star
- "Welcome to Debbane Palace". Museumsaida.org. http://www.museumsaida.org/english/projet.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.
- additional notes taken from Collier's Encyclopedia (1967 edition)
Riad Solh Co-Founder of Lebanon and Prime Minister. Known to be on of the founding fathers of Lebanon, Riad Solh is considered by many as the one of he leading political figures not only in Lebanon but also in Middle East.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sidon|
- Sidonianews (Saida News Portal) (Arabic)
- Lebanon, the Cedars' Land: Sidon
- Destination Lebanon: Sidon
- (French) Fondation Audi (includes a virtual tour of The Soap Museum and other heritage sites in the Old City)
- Sam Houston State University: Nicholas C. J. Pappas: The Inscription on the Sarcophagus of the Phoenician King Eshmunazar
- Notes on Sidon
- Sidon excavations
- watch "Isti'mariyah - windward between Naples and Baghdad"