Khan el-Franj
Saida, Lebanon

The Khan was built in the early Ottoman period, between 1540 and 1560 and was leased to French merchants looking to establish trade outposts within Syria hence its name Khan el-Franj or the French Caravanserai. When Emir Fakheddine II captured Sidon in the 17th century, the khan was expanded and included a French consulate, a convent, an orphanage and a cultural center. It is easily the largest structure in Saida’s old city and defines the city’s views from the sea. It is accessible directly from the port, and forms the main connecting point between the docks and the souks, which lie to its east and south. It also borders the old city’s largest plaza, the Bab el-Saray and connects to some of its most renowned monuments and historic mosques.

The Khan is composed of a large central courtyard lined with rooms for the storage and trade of goods and a large hall for congregation, the second floor houses the merchants’ sleeping quarters and rooms. The entire complex was initially connected to the Catholic monastery to the immediate right, but was separated as the khan was designated as a national monument in the 1960s. Historically, drapery, timber and sugar from Europe were traded with peppers and cloves from India and silk and cotton from across Syria and Lebanon.

The Khan was renovated into a cultural center by the Hariri Foundation in the late 1990’s and currently houses a high-quality artisanal production space and workshop, the Ministry of Tourism and several exhibition spaces. 

Al Madina al-'Atiqa; the Old City, Saida, Lebanon
Associated Names
Constructed and Leased to French Merchants
Expanded by Emir Fakhreddine II
Style Periods
Variant Names
Khan el-Franj
French Caravanserai
Building Usages