The Resistance Tourist Landmark, located about 20 minutes out of Sidon showcases the history of the resistance movement against Israeli occupation of South Lebanon. As you enter, drop by at the Multi Purpose Hall for a video presentation of the history of the resistance movement.
Then climb up the hill to a lookout point that gives you a magnificent view of the valleys and mountains that have stood through the war. Adjacent to the Multi Purpose Hall is The Abyss, which has a display of captured Israeli tanks and armours.
From there walk through "The Pathway" to gain an insight into life of a resistance fighter. The trail shows various combative scenes. The highlight is the hand-made cave where fighters took shelter during the war. The area is an actual site where thousands of fighters held out in fighting position against the Israelis until the liberation of South Lebanon.
As you emerge from the cave, you would reach an outlook point that overlooks villages and cities which were liberated in 1985. This includes Iqlim al Tuffah, Zahrani, Nabatiyeh, Sidon, Tyre etc.
Entrance ticket is US$2. If you're coming from Sidon, drive towards Nabatiyeh. Along the way you would need to seek for directions. Signboards are quite limited.
About 3km north of Sidon, on the banks of a river called Nahr el-Awali, lie the ruins of the the Temple of Echmoun. It was dedicated to the Phoenician god of medicine and healing, the most revered in Sidon at the time and one that was later equated with the Graeco-Roman god Asclepius. According to Phoenician mythology, the goddess Astarte turned Echmoun into a god after he killed himself to escape her love. Her throne, carved in the 3rd century BC, is still standing in the temple, framed by two lion statues (see photos). The temple was an imporant pilgrimage site for over a millennium, from its construction in the 7th century BC until the early Byzantine period. Pilgrims brought offerings to ask Echmoun to heal them and bathed in waters from a nearby spring known for its healing qualities. During the Graeco-Roman period, a colonnade and a nymphaeum were constructed, the remains of which can still be seen. In the early Byzantine period, Christians continued to visit the site for its healing reputation, so a church was built, but only its exquisite mosaics have survived to this day. This is one of the few sites in Lebanon where significant Phoenician-period structures have survived intact, despite reconstruction in the Graeco-Roman and Byzantine periods. Note that this temple is on the tentative list of UNESCO awaiting its addition to the list of World Heritage Sites.
If you're going on a day trip to Saida, take the time and go a bit further make: visit this sanctuary that holds a special place in the heart of the locals. It seams this sanctuary is where Virgin Mary waited for Jesus while he went to preach in Tyre and Saida. Jewish women were not allowed to enter pagan towns and, as Saida was a cananean city and it was set on the Roman road towards the Lebanese coastline. Virgin Mary meditated and prayed here. This is why she is called "The Waiting Virgin".
Many people allocate the cave several miracles and sterile women come in pilgrimage here.
Broken Classical columns from an earlier temple lie scattered around the Sea Castle. They reminded me of the Egyptian granite columns I had seen earlier at Palmyra. I guess they were from the same quarry.
The temple of Echmoun stands on an esplanade about 13 M long half way a hill, overlooking the river Awali.
We saw the remains of a byzantine cathedral, a canalsystem, sacred basins, podiums, mosaics, reliefs, images of bulls.
One of the most interesting artefacts is the throne of Astarte, mother of the gods, flanked by two sphinxes. The throne is carved from one solid block of granit.
Joun is a large village 15 KM south east of Sidon in the midst of olive plantations. it's a nice area to wander around. We visited the monastery of St Saveur, not much to see and the wind was very cold early morning.
The fame of Joun is that it was the home for many years of the famous woman traveller Lady Hester Stanhope from England (1776-1839). She lived in a house, now belonging to the Monastery of St Saveur. Near that house is also her grave.
Two KM northeast of Sidon, right of the bridge on Nahr el Awali in the garden Bustan el Sheikh is the Phoenician Temple of Echmoun. The whole area is filled with citrus orchards and the riverside here is a favourite picnic spot for the locals.
Echmoun was the principal god of Sidon and associated with healing.
This is the only Phoenician site in Lebanon, which has retained more than just its foundation walls.
The building of the temple complex started in the 7th century BC with a lot of additions in the following centuries.
We were the only visitors and the man in charge liked it to accompany us around the site and gave a lot of explanation.
There are no formal opening hours and no charge for entry.