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Citadel of Saladin

Tourist places in Egypt not only pharaonic. Especially Cairo (the capital of Egypt) mixes many pharaonic, Islamic, Coptic, modern, and Christian aspects. When the Islamic Arabs came to Egypt in the Middle Ages, they began to build their civilization. There are many Islamic places in Cairo especially the mosques that is why Cairo is known by the name “The City of a thousand minarets”.

One of the most famous Islamic places is The Citadel of Saladin (it is also known by the name The Citadel of Cairo). The Citadel is one of the attractive destinations in Cairo for its importance in history and its architectural beauty. The Citadel was considered as a city in another city. It was built in the Ayubí dynasty in the 12th century AD. c. on the top of Mount Moqatam.

The History of The Citadel of Saladin

Saladin was the first ruler in the Ayubí dynasty. He ruled Egypt from 1171-1193 and was in Cairo for almost 8 years. Saladin ordered his Vizier Bahaa El-Din Karakosh to build a citadel on Mount Moqatam to protect the city from the Crusaders, a refuge if the enemies conquered Cairo and a royal residence.

The Vizier Bahaa El-Din destroyed the buildings and tombs that were in this place and began the construction of the Citadel. Saladin passed away in 1193 before finishing the construction of the Citadel. His Vizier completed the construction until 1204 AD. c. El-Malek El-Adel (Saladin’s brother) was the first resident of the citadel.

When the French arrived in 1798, they destroyed many parts of the Citadel. In 1830 Muhammad Ali built a Mosque with his name (the most famous place in the Citadel). It was the administrative center for 700 years until Khedive Ishmael built Abdin Palace in the 1860s. In 1882 it was the center of the British army. Since 1983 it has been under the authority of the Egyptian Antiquity Authority.

The Construction of the Citadel

The ubication; The Citadel was built between the two capitals; Cairo (the Fatimid capital) and Fustat (the ancient capital for 500 years) to be the refuge when the enemies took control of the city. It was built high on Mount Moqatam to be visible from anywhere in Old Cairo. The south of the Citadel offers wonderful views of Cairo.

The division; The Citadel is divided into two main parts; the southern part (as a residence of the king with a great palace) and the northern part (as a military fort with great walls guarded north and east sides).

The Walls and towers; The Citadel was surrounded by several walls and towers. Every 100 m a tower was built with openings to defend it from attacks. The two main towers are; Borg Al-Ramía (Sand Tower) and Borg Al-Hatad (Blacksmith Tower).

The doors; There are several gates to the Citadel. The main gate is the Moqattam Gate (current gate) which was built in the Ottoman dynasty. There is also the new gate that was built by Muhammad Ali in 1827.

The hole; There is large water well in the Citadel (it is known by the name Josef’s well). It is 90 m deep. It is divided into two parts; one for the bulls (to move the Ferris wheel) and the other for the water (to the soldiers).

Inside the Citadel

Since the construction of the Citadel, kings, and rulers built buildings on it.

-The Mosque of Muhammad Ali; is the most famous place in the Citadel. It is known by the name of the Alabaster Mosque. It was built by Muhammad Ali from 1830 to 1849. It is divided into two parts; Bait Al-Sala (place of prayer) and Al-Sahn (great courtyard of ablution).

-Qaser Al-Gawhara; it is known by the name of the Palace of Jewels. It was named after the name of Muhammad Ali’s wife (Gawhara). There is the residence of Muhammad Ali. It was built in the Ottoman style in 1814 in the southeast of the Citadel.

Inside the Palace, there is a lathe of Muhammad Ali, furniture, costumes, and a gallery of portraits of the rulers of Egypt from Muhammad Ali. It is famous for the famous Citadel massacre where Muhammad Ali murdered the Mamluks.

-The Mosque of El-Naser Muhammad; was the first construction on the Citadel in 1318. It was considered the official mosque in Cairo.

-Other attractions within the Citadel;

-The Military Museum was built by Muhammad Ali where he observes the Military History of Egypt.

-The Police Museum was the photos of Reya and Sekina (the serial killers in the 20th century in Alexandria).

-The Museum of Carriages was used by Muhammad Ali

-The Mosque of El-Naser Muhammad was the first construction in the Citadel in 1318. It was considered the official mosque in Cairo.

-The Soliman Pacha Mosque was built in the Ottoman dynasty.

-The Sultan Hassan Mosque and the Al-Refai Mosque.

Explore Cairo Attractions with Jakada Tours Egypt

Cairo has many attractive places. Do not miss the opportunity to marvelous view of Cairo from the high point of the Citadel and explore other destinations in Cairo. See our Egypt travel packages or Nile cruise to choose the one that best suits you.

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