Citadel of CairoCitadel of Saladin or Citadel of Cairo, is visible from many areas of Cairo as it is situated above a hill. The citadel was built during the Ayyubids reign under auspices of the famous ruler Saladin 1176-1183 CE. It was initially built for a military purpose and is a typical early medieval fortress, and now it has become one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Egypt.
Why Was the Citadel Built?
Citadel of Cairo
See more famous constructions of Islamic Cairo (Citadel of Cairo is also located here)
Facts about the CitadelIn 1976, the Citadel of Cairo was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The citadel was the place where the ruler and his government stayed. It is worth mentioning that Saladin did not stay at the citadel because it was not totally finished during his reign. The first king who stayed at the citadel was Al Malek el, Kamel. Saladin ordered his soldiers to build the citadel, and he utilized the crusaders that he had captured to support his soldiers.
The citadel was a fortress, but in the ancient times, the armies used to lay a siege to any fortress until the other army surrenders. The main reason that forced the king to give up was the lack of water. That was the reason why Saladin dug a well inside the citadel, which was so difficult for people in the past. The well is 90 meters (295 feet) deep, and it was dug into the tough rocks of the Mokatam Mountain.
When you wander around the Citadel of Cairo, you will see how much it is quiet and inviting. However, in the past, this citadel witnessed some bloody events such as the invasion of the French troops under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 when they managed to destroy the walls in order to take control of Egypt.
Al Gawhara Palace, also known as the Palace of Jewel, is another spot that witnessed a brutal incident; Mohamed Ali wanted to gather all the Mamluks leaders to get rid of them, so he invited them and murdered them inside Al Gawhara Palace.
There are 3 mosques within the Citadel of Cairo, in addition to 3 museums. Over and above that, the panorama deck is located at the back entrance of Muhammad Ali Pasha Mosque. When you are at the highest point of the citadel, you will have the feeling that you can see all the land of Egypt.
The Military MuseumThis large museum includes antique items and charts that depict the history of the Egyptian army starting from the Pharaonic era until modern times. The paintings show the weapons which the Egyptian soldiers used during the various wars. There are some tanks that the Egyptian army captured from the Israeli army during the war of October 1973.
Moreover, there are eight historical canons and statues of some Pharaonic kings and rulers such as Ramses II and King Menes. There are also other statues of some modern rulers of Egypt such as Saladin Al Ayouby, Mohamed Ali, Al Zaher Beybars, and Khedive Ismail.
The Police National MuseumThe Police National Museum incorporates a special collection of objects and weapons that dates back to ancient times. There are photos of famous criminals such as the two sisters Raya and Sekina who were killing people at their house. You will find a hall specified for items and paintings that show the heroism of Ismailia citizens and the Egyptian police during the British colonization.
The Museum of Royal CarriagesThis museum includes more than seventy royal chariots that date back to the reign of Khedive Ismail. Many of them were gifts to the ruler of Egypt; on top of that, they were used to welcome the kings or rulers who visited Egypt at that time. Although the carriages look plain and tacky, they were considered as the most fashionable and luxurious mode of transportation.
Citadel Prison Museum
Muhammad Ali Mosque