Citadel of Saladin in Cairo

Saturday, 4 November 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© Ahmed zakaria 2025/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Ahmed zakaria 2025/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Citadel of Cairo or Citadel of Saladin is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo, Egypt, built by Salah ad-Din (Saladin) and further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th century until the construction of Abdeen Palace in the 19th century. Its location on a promontory of the Mokattam hills near the center of Cairo commands a strategic position overlooking the city and dominating its skyline. When it was constructed it was among the most impressive and ambitious military fortification projects of its time. It is now a preserved historic site, including mosques and museums.

In addition to the initial Ayyubid-era construction begun by Saladin in 1176, the Citadel underwent major development during the Mamluk Sultanate that followed, culminating with the construction projects of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad in the 14th century. In the first half of the 19th century Muhammad Ali Pasha demolished many of the older buildings and built new palaces and monuments all across the site, giving it much of its present form. In the 20th century it was used as a military garrison by the British occupation and then by the Egyptian Army until being opened to the public in 1983. In 1976, it was proclaimed by UNESCO as a part of the World Heritage Site Historic Cairo (Islamic Cairo) which was “the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century.”

The Citadel was built on a promontory beneath the Muqattam Hills, a setting that made it difficult to attack. The efficacy of the Citadel’s location is further demonstrated by the fact that it remained the heart of Egyptian government until the 19th century. During this long period, the layout and structure of the Citadel was repeatedly altered and adapted to suit the designs of new rulers and new regimes, which makes it difficult to reconstitute its original plan or even its plan in subsequent periods. There have been three major construction periods leading to the Citadel’s current form: 12th-century Ayyubid (starting with Saladin), 14th-century Mamluk (under al-Nasir Muhammad), and in the 19th century under Muhammad Ali. The Citadel stopped being the seat of government when Egypt‘s ruler, Khedive Ismail, moved to his newly built Abdin Palace in the new downtown Cairo in 1874. Despite its elaborate defenses, the Citadel never ended up being subjected to a true siege, though it was implicated on various occasions in the political conflicts within Cairo or Egypt.

Mohamed Ali Mosque © Chemist.wael/cc-by-sa-4.0 Mohamed Ali Mosque © Mohamed abdelzaher/cc-by-sa-4.0 Citadel of Saladin map © Néfermaât/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Ahmed zakaria 2025/cc-by-sa-4.0 Courtyard of the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque © Yasser.mahmoud/cc-by-sa-4.0 Egyptian National Military Museum © flickr.com - Francesco Gasparetti/cc-by-2.0 Entrance © Onceinawhile/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Ahmed Al.Badawy/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - Francesco Gasparetti/cc-by-2.0
<
>
Egyptian National Military Museum © flickr.com - Francesco Gasparetti/cc-by-2.0
In general, the fortress complex is divided into two parts: the Northern Enclosure (where the National Military Museum is located today), and the Southern Enclosure (where the Mosque of Muhammad Ali is located today). The Northern Enclosure was historically reserved for military garrisons, while the Southern Enclosure was developed as the residence of the sultan. There is also a lower, western enclosure which was historically the site of the royal stables of the Mamluks. However, these functional distinctions were largely erased in the 19th century under Muhammad Ali Pasha, who overhauled the entire site and constructed buildings of various functions throughout the Citadel.

To the west and southwest of the Citadel was a long open field frequently referred to as the “hippodrome” by historians or as the Maydan (“plaza” or “square”).> For centuries this was maintained as a training ground (especially for horsemanship) and as a military parade ground. Its outline is still visible in the layout of the roads (mainly Salah ad-Din Street) on this side of the Citadel.

At the northern end of this hippodrome was another square or plaza known as Rumayla Square (Maydan/Midan Rumayla), today known as Salah al-Din Square (Midan Salah ad-Din) or Citadel Square (Midan al-Qal’a). This was used as a horse market (due to its adjacency to the royal stables), but also as an official square for royal and religious ceremonies. It is occupied today by a large roundabout next to which are the massive mosques of Sultan Hassan and al-Rifa’i.

Read more on Wikipedia Citadel of Saladin (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

The Lake Bled in Slovenia

The Lake Bled in Slovenia

[caption id="attachment_154248" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Edwardwexler/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia, where it adjoins the town of Bled. The area is a popular tourist destination. The lake is 35 km (22 mi) from Ljubljana International Airport and 55 km (34 mi) from the capital city, Ljubljana. The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origins. It is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long and 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 30.6 m (100 ft...

[ read more ]

Frascati, southeast of Rome

Frascati, southeast of Rome

[caption id="attachment_161167" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Street view © Mac[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Frascati is a town and comune in the province of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy. It is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of Rome, on the Alban Hills close to the ancient city of Tusculum. Frascati is closely associated with science, being the location of several international scientific laboratories. Frascati is renowned for its white wine, Frascati. It is also an important historical and artistic centr...

[ read more ]

Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg

Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg

[caption id="attachment_227491" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Glambecker Mühle © Uckermaerker/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, often shortened to Schorfheide, is a biosphere reserve in the German State of Brandenburg near the Polish border. The reserve was established on 1 October 1990 following the German Reunification and is under the protection of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme. It stretches over the German districts of Barnim, Uckermark, Märkisch-Oderland ...

[ read more ]

Costa Mesa in Orange County

Costa Mesa in Orange County

[caption id="attachment_165541" align="aligncenter" width="590"] South Coast Plaza entrance © Coolcaesar/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Costa Mesa is a city in Orange County in California. The population is at 110,000. Since its incorporation in 1953, the city has grown from a semi-rural farming community of 16,840 to a primarily suburban and edge city with an economy based on retail, commerce, and light manufacturing. Costa Mesa is located 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Los Angeles, 88 miles (142 km) north of San Diego ...

[ read more ]

Hispaniola in the Caribbean

Hispaniola in the Caribbean

[caption id="attachment_201151" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Haiti - Jacmel Seaside © Port-au-princien/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Hispaniola is an island in the Caribbean island group known as the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba, and the most populous island in the Caribbean; it is also the eleventh most populous island in the world. The 76,192-square-kilometre (29,418 sq mi) island is divided between two separate, sovereign nations: the Spanish-speaking Domi...

[ read more ]

Marmaray: A tunnel connects Europe with Asia

Marmaray: A tunnel connects Europe with Asia

[caption id="attachment_25152" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Marmaray Project © R1410/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Marmaray is a rail transport project in the Turkish city of Istanbul. It comprises an undersea rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, and the modernization of existing suburban railway lines along the Sea of Marmara from Halkalı on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side. The procurement of new rolling stock for suburban passenger traffic is also part of the project. Construction started in 2004...

[ read more ]

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

[caption id="attachment_185661" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Jorge Morales Piderit[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Christ the Redeemer is an Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with the French engineer Albert Caquot. Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida fashioned the face. Constructed between 1922 and 1931, the statue is 30 metres (98 ft) tall, excluding its 8-metre (26 ft) pedestal. The a...

[ read more ]

Theme Week New York City - The Upper East Side

Theme Week New York City - The Upper East Side

[caption id="attachment_168720" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Fifth Avenue © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Upper East Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, between Central Park/Fifth Avenue, 59th Street, the East River, and 96th Street. The area incorporates several smaller neighborhoods, including Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, and Yorkville. Once known as the Silk Stocking District, it is now one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City. In t...

[ read more ]

The Elbe

The Elbe

[caption id="attachment_153697" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Elbe River at Dresden © NetgutuDD[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) in the Krkonoše (also known as Giant Mountains or in German as Riesengebirge) on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the 60 metres (197 ft) of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls, the latter ...

[ read more ]

Grant Park in Chicago

Grant Park in Chicago

[caption id="attachment_185760" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Spirit of Music Garden © Alanscottwalker/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Grant Park is a large urban park (319 acres or 1.29 km²) in the Loop community area of Chicago. Located in Chicago's central business district, the park's most notable features are Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus. Originally known as Lake Park, and dating from the city's founding, it was renamed in 1901 to honor Ulysses S. Grant...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
© Philippe Alès/cc-by-sa-4.0
Mers-les-Bains on the English Channel

Mers-les-Bains is a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France. Much of the older part of town...

View from Baynes Peak on Saltspring Island © Michal Klajban/cc-by-sa-4.0
Gulf Islands in Canada

The Gulf Islands is a group of islands in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast of...

© Infodog1213879821
The Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is an Excellence-class cruise ship operated by Carnival Cruise Line. The ship is Carnival's lead vessel of the...

Schließen