Sidon, Lebanon When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 4,000 BC Around 25 miles south of Beirut lies Sidon, one of the most important - and perhaps the oldest - Phoenician cities. It was the base from which the Phoenician's great Mediterranean empire grew. Both Jesus and St Paul are said to have visited Sidon, as did Alexander the Great, who captured the city in 333 BC. Charles Méryon (French artist): "Few persons new to the climate escape a rash of some description."