The City of Lattakia has existed for millennia under different names, and it is an important modern trade and commercial center today. The Lattakia area is marked by diversity. Its population includes Christian, Alawi, and Sunni residents. Its landscapes range from sandy beaches to green mountains. It is also home for many important and fascinating archaeological sites.
One of the most important sites is the Qala'at Saladin (Saladin Castle), located about 37 kilometers to the east of the Port of Lattakia in the mountains. The castle is reached via a difficult but rewarding climb up the mountains. The Phoenicians first controlled the site in the 1st Millennium BC, and they still controlled it in 333 BC when Alexander the Great arrived. The Byzantines built the earliest defensive structures under Emperor Zimisces in the 10th Century AD. Crusaders controlled the castle from the beginning of the 12th Century until Saladin occupied it in 1188. The fortress has a 156-meter long, 28-meter deep ditch cut into the surrounding rock with one 28-meter-high needle that supported the drawbridge. The keep has 5-meter thick walls and covers almost 24 square meters. At the center of the fortress are the Byzantine citadel, a large cistern, the Crusader teahouse, and a Crusaders' church that adjoins a Byzantine chapel. The grounds also contain a mosque dating to the time of 13th Century Sultan Qalaun and an Arab palace with courtyards and baths. Visitors to the Saladin Castle must make an hour's drive to the castle on a winding mountain road, but they will not be disappointed.
About 10 kilometers north of the Port of Lattakia are the ruins of Ugarit, an ancient Bronze Age Phoenician city whose ruins lie about half a mile from the Mediterranean shore in the Ras Shamra artificial mound. Uncovered by a peasant farmer, the archaeological evidence shows that the town of Ugarit was most active from 1450 to 1200 BC when it was abandoned. Among the ruins found there are the first linear alphabet in the world and information about the religion of Canaan, an important part of the history contained in the Hebrew Torah/Christian Old Testament.
The beaches surrounding the Port of Lattakia are beautiful and popular. The city's Cote d'Azur Beach is Syria's most popular coastal resort, and the Le Meridien and Cote d'Azur Cham resort hotels allow non-guests to use their beaches for a fee. The free public beach near the Al Siwar Restaurant is popular but not particularly safe due to debris in the sand. The Ras ibn Hani beach and the black-sand beach at Ras al Bassit are attractive beaches, but they are difficult to reach.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Lattakia by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.