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History & Heritage


48 hours in Saida

Any successful stay in Lebanon includes a trip to Saida. Situated on the south coast of the country, this charming coastal city is renowned for its vestiges dating back to antiquity and its authenticity. The old alleys and the souk are proof of this and plunge us into the Lebanon of yesteryear. Do you have 48 hours in front of you? Here are the things not to be missed!

An emblematic city of ancient Phoenicia, Saida had, during antiquity, one of the most prosperous ports. But its history still remains a mystery for two reasons. On the one hand, because archaeological excavations are few and far between, and on the other hand because its heritage has been plundered and scattered. Nevertheless, the citadel will never cease to seduce you, between its medieval style and its joyful atmosphere.

The monuments on the seaside…

In Saida, visiting the historic buildings is very enjoyable, as many of them lay their foundations close to the shore. This is the case of the Castle of the Sea which, as its name indicates, was built in the water by the Crusaders in the 13th century. Start your itinerary with this monument and climb up to the terraces of the castle. The view over the port, the sea, and the town is breathtaking!


Further right, you will see the Caravanserai. This 17th-century building was originally used to house French merchants. You will enjoy strolling under the vaulted galleries and taking some pictures in the rectangular courtyard. Afterwards, lovers of ancestral products can make a stop at the soap museum. You can quickly get a tour, but the manufacturing process of this small product takes you back in time. The smells of jasmine, laurel and olive oil in addition!

And those around the souk


The very essence of the city, the ancient souks unfold like a labyrinth over 14 kilometers. Strolling through them is synonymous with letting go. Let yourself be carried away by the smells, sounds, and ancient architecture of the alleys. You will find in these souks typical Lebanese tapestries, colorful mirrors, and objects made of cedarwood. A change of scenery guaranteed! When the hubbub becomes too imposing, leave the premises in the direction of the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. Within its structure dating back to 1690, it offers a true haven of peace. Then don’t miss the Palais Debbané! This residence, built in 1721, displays all the characteristics of Arab-Ottoman architecture. Finally, Saïda also has magnificent mosques: Bâb el Serail the oldest of the city, the Great Mosque on the seafront, and Kikhia with its six domes.

Finally, don’t forget to treat yourself to delicious mezzés or foul (a dish made with vegetables and beans) and kenafeh (puff pastry) for dessert. Because what we like in Lebanon is also gastronomy!

See also

48 hours in Alexandria

Published on 21 July 2020