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Location: Sidon, South Governorate   Map

Constructed: 1228 by Crusaders

Sidon Sea Castle (قلعة صيدا البحرية)

Sidon Sea Castle (قلعة صيدا البحرية)






Description of Sidon Sea Castle

Sidon Sea Castle is a medieval fortress situated on a island and connected to the mainland via a 80 meter causeway. It is located in the city of Sidon of the South Governorate in Lebanon. Sidon Sea Castle was constructed in 1228 by the Crusaders on ruins of Phoenician temple devoted to Melkart. This mythical hero distinguished himself with numerous feats of bravery and chivalry. After his death he was proclaimed a deity and several shrines were devoted to him in the Eastern Mediterranean. Romans established their own fortification here, but it was largely in ruins by the time Christian armies of Western Europe showed up here. The castle protected local harbor from attacks of the pirates. After Crusaders lost control of the region the walls of the their former stronghold was largely destroyed by the Mamluks. In the following centuries Muslims did rebuild several of the towers to keep an eye over the watery frontier, but it did not reach the same level of sophistication as it did in the Medieval times.



Sidon is located on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. In Ancient Phenicia was of great religious, political and commercial importance. The existing fortifications were erected in the XIII century by the crusaders as a fortress on a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus 80 m long. The island was previously the site of the temple of Melkart (the Phoenician version of Hercules).

The fortress was badly destroyed by the Mamluks when they took the city from the crusaders, but they subsequently rebuilt it and added a long dam. The castle later ceased to be used, but was again rebuilt in the 17th century by the emir Fahr al-Din II, who rebuilt the most affected parts.

There is the possibility that the palace of the Phoenician king and several other Phoenician architectural monuments that were destroyed by Asarhaddon and then earthquakes were previously located on the island where the castle was built. This island also served as an internal shelter for attacks on the city. Big Sidon, small Sidon, powerful fortresses, pastures, towers and fortifications are mentioned in the records of the Assyrian king Sinaheherib who attacked Sidon and nearby cities.

Today, the castle consists mainly of two towers connected by a wall. In the outer walls, Roman columns were used as horizontal reinforcements, an element often found in fortifications built on or near former Roman settlements. The rectangular western tower, to the left of the entrance, is the best preserved of the two. It has a large vaulted room with pieces of old carved capitals and rusty cannonballs. A spiral staircase leads to the roof, where there is a small, domed mosque from the time of the Ottoman Empire. The roof offers excellent views of the old town and the fishing harbor. The eastern tower is not so well preserved and was built in two stages; the lower part dates from the Crusader period, while the upper level was built by the Mamelukes. There are also artifacts of the old Phoenician city, flooded by the sea in the area adjacent to the castle, the construction of walls, columns, stairs, the remains of buildings, statues and towers.




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