The Castle of St. Louis

The Castle of St. Louis was erected by the Crusaders during the Frankish occupation of the city, on what is reputed to have been the acropolis of ancient Sidon. Remains of a theater have been recently found there also. The French king, Louis IX, better known as St. Louis, appears to have spent a long time here, and this is perhaps why the castle is attributed to him. The citadel was probably completely demolished, then rebuilt by the Arabs.

To the south of the citadel is a mound of debris called Murex Hill. A talus of crushed murex shells along the western slope can still be seen. This artificial mound (100 m. Iong by 50m.high) was formed by the accumulation of refuse from the purple dye factories of Phoenician times. The small shell of the murex was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty. Mosaic tiling at the top of the mound suggests that Roman buildings were erected there when the area was no longer used as the city's dumping ground. Part of the hill today is covered by the cemetery of the Moslem Shiite community of Sidon.


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