Children run in between narrow alleys making their way through women buying their daily needs and some tourist taking pictures. The sunrays peep through plastic sheets that hang from one building to the other protecting the souk from the harmful sun. The hustle and bustle of every day life unfolds in this maze like souk. The smell of spices whiffs in the air trailing from one alley to the other. The butcher hangs his fresh meat on display next to the small coffee shop whose freshly brewed Arabic coffee invigorates the air around it. The laundry of the families living on top hangs dormant as the sea breeze lulls it to dryness. The kids wave from their tiny gridded balconies with their legs hanging out, happy to take part in this scene.
In the picturesque vaulted Saida old souk located between the Sea Castle and the Castle of St. Louis, the cool, winding streets of the souk retain their ancient origins while functioning as an actual market where locals still go to buy household goods. As you walk through the maze of alleys, getting lost in dead ends, locals will invite you into their homes with a simple word “tfadalo,” ascertaining the famed Lebanese hospitality.
Small narrow stairs in the dark heart of the souk hide gems in architecture like the stunning early 18th century Debbaneh Palace and the OLA center both accessible via small staircase. At the end of the souk stands quietly Saida’s famous soap museum, quietly displaying the famed Lebanese “saboon baladi,” Lebanese soap.
Somehow in between the jumble of every day life at the souk, life seems harmonious. One finds the beauty in the colors of its heritage on display ascertaining that although life moves forward yet just like the lingering smell of spices, it seems to carry with it a little of its past, preserving it like a token for other generations to safeguard. And as simple as that life unfolds in the souk, unquestioned, busily surviving, carrying with it a whiff of its glorious past, and yet somehow humbled with the passing of time.