Lebanon News

Tourists bemoan barriers at Sidon’s damaged Sea Castle

Tourists tour Sidon s Sea Castle, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Chunks of the southwestern section of Sidon’s Sea Castle broke off a few months ago and tourists are still being prevented from visiting what has been considered the better preserved tower of one the city’s most historic sites. Stairs leading to the damaged area were cordoned off and closed to the public around 70 days ago after several large rocks in the upper room collapsed, The Daily Star has learned. No injuries were reported.

After the incident, the Sidon Municipality, which is responsible for tourist admission to the Sea Castle, informed the Culture Ministry’s Directorate-General of Antiquities, which in turn dispatched a team of experts who examined the location and requested the municipality to prevent tourist access to the area.

The Directorate-General of Antiquities is now in the process of preparing a comprehensive report over the status of the Sea Castle.

But the recent incident did not prevent visitors from enjoying the parts of the castle that were open to the public. A number of visitors carefully took the stairs leading to the northeastern tower, carrying a booklet explaining the site’s history.

“It’s a good day,” a tourist hailing from the United Kingdom said.

Others did express disappointment, however, over the limited access. While touring the 13th century landmark, a Mexican tourist who identified herself as Anet complained that she was not able to access the southwestern section.

Another tourist, Adam Abdullah, echoed her disappointment. “I was annoyed by the stairs to the southern section being blocked off. I was told by the tourist guide that it has been closed for two months,” he said.

The southwestern section is considered to be one of the castle’s biggest draws and includes a tower, large rooms as well as fortifications and outlets leading to the castle’s rooftop, which commands views over Sidon’s Old City and harbor and the open Mediterranean Sea.

The last time the Sea Castle was renovated was around 20 years ago, when a new lighting system was installed. But in recent years, strong waves have caused some of the stones from the castle walls to crumble off.

Built by the Crusaders in 1228, the castle is one of the most historic sites in the city. Connected to the mainland by a stone causeway, the castle has seen its fair share of history: It was destroyed by the Mamluks before being renovated by Prince Fakhreddine in the 17th century.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 17, 2018, on page 3.

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