UA-42101888-1 Lattakia | Syrian Friendship Association


A small coastal town, Latakia has developed considerably in the last few decades. To stop Syria's dependence on Iskanderoun and the Lebanese ports, Latakia was equipped with a modern harbor more than 20 years ago. It now has a University and is linked to Aleppo on the national railway lines. As Syria's primary port it has great economic significance for the rest of the country.

Latakia has the best beaches in Syria and to harness this, two or three luxury resorts are situated a few miles north of the city. Also built on the coast is the great sports complex built for the Mediterranean games that were held here in 1988.

Historically, Latakia does not offer much, it has a quite modern feel to it. However the ancient excavation site of Ugarit and Saladin's castle are not far away, and Latakia is often used as a base for visiting these sites.

Latakia is situated 341 Km from Damascus and can be visited via Tartous or Homs, while it is only 183 Km from Aleppo and can be visited by train.

The History of Lattakia

Latakia's history goes back a long way. In the 2nd Millennium BC Latakia was part of the Kingdom of Ugarit. Ugarit a Syro-Phoenician kingdom is being excavated at the moment about 20 Km north of Latakia. It then fell to the Assyrians, and then the Persians.

It later became an important part of the Seleucid kingdom and with corresponding Antioch, Apamea, and Seleucia-on-Tigris was considered one of the most important cities of this kingdom. It was named after the mother of Seleucos I the founder of this kingdom, whose name was Laodicea. It then fell in the hands of all the following occupiers of Syria and became part of the Roman and Byzantine empires, the Islamic dynasties, and played an important role in the Crusader wars. It was mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Apostles.

It went through a couple of earthquakes in 494 and 555 and was rebuilt by Justinian. It was taken by the Arabs and then to the Byzantines and then to the Seljuk Turks in 1084. Under the crusaders it was first incorporated into the principality of Antioch and was given the name of La Liche by the Latin prince Tancred who considered it a part of the Latin Bishopric. In 1188 the powerful Ayyubid leader Saladin occupied it, and it remained as a Muslim area under Aleppo's control. In 1260 it fell back into crusader hands. At this point it was added to the county of Tripoli, and remained so for nearly a century. A heavy earthquake destroyed most of Latakia in 1287, and the chance was taken by the Emir of Saone (Saladin's Castle) who attacked and sacked the town. A Venetian trading colony was stationed in Latakia from 1228 till 1436 when it was expelled.

Under the Ottomans it was not considered very important and was a dependency of Tripoli or Hama. It was not very significant under the French either, with a small port that could harbor a few boats, but has since been developed into Syria's major port.

Copyright © Syrian embassy-London 2005