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The Citadel The Citadel
image © 2004

The Citadel is a splendid complex of mosques and museums. It was first built by Salah El-Din Al-Ayyubi (Saladin) to defend Egypt against the Crusaders. It was later developed and maintained by subsequent rulers who ruled the country -mostly- from the citadel.

The citadel was used as the power center until KhediveWhat does it mean? Ismail built Abdin palace and moved his seat there. It was also a scene of the famous massacre of Mamluks plotted by Mohamed Ali in 1811.

The citadel consists of two enclosures: southern and northern. The southern was built by Saladin in 1182 and was dedicated to military installations. The northern enclosure was completed by Al-Kamel, Saladin's nephew, in 1238 as a residence for the royal members.

The citadel's installations were replaced in several occasions by rulers who wanted to build any of their own. Mohamed Ali finally cleared the remaining rubbles to build his famous mosque.

Southern Enclosure

Al-Nasser Mosque:
The mosque was built by Bahari Mamluk Sultan Al-Nasser Mohamed in 1318. The mosque has two distinctive minaretsWhat does it mean?. It was decorated from inside with marble panels but they were all moved by the Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim to Istanbul. The mosque was restored after the dome felt several times, so it's current dome dates to 1935.

Joseph's well:
This was built by the time the citadel was built in 1180s. Joseph (Yusef) is one of Saladin's names. The well is also known as "BirWhat does it mean? El-Halazoan" or (the spiral well) because of the 97 meters-deep (318 feet) spiral staircase in the central shaft. It was dug by crusader prisoners to reach the Nile level in order to supply the citadel with water at the time of siege or attack.

Al-Gawhara palace and museum:
The palace was built by Mohamed Ali in 1814. Its architecture shows a remarkable European influence. Part of the palace was burnt in the early 1970s but was again opened to public in the 1980s. It is now a museum contains the belongings of Mohamed Ali dynasty.

Mohamed Ali Mosque:
This mosque was built by Mohamed Ali between 1827 and 1848. Its design emulates that of Yeni Vlide in Istanbul. The mosque is a typical Ottoman style. It has an impressive size and height. The 82-meter-high mosque has several silver domes and minarets.

The inside of the mosque is simple, and on the right as you enter lies the tomb of Mohamed Ali himself. He was buried there in 1849.
In the courtyard of the mosque there lies a gaudy clock that was gifted to Mohamed Ali by King Louis Philippe of France in 1846 in return of an obeliskWhat does it mean? that was put in the Palace de la Concorde in Paris. The clock actually didn't work ever since.

National Police museum:
A museum that exhibits the role of police throughout the Egyptian history.

Northern Enclosure

Military museum:
The museum was a HaremWhat does it mean? palace and was built by Mohamed Ali. Now it's a museum that exhibits weapons and military uniforms that date back to the Pharaonic era.

Sulayman PashaWhat does it mean? mosque:
In the northern enclosure there is also a small mosque with a little dome. It also belongs to the Ottoman architecture school. It was built in 1528 by a court official called Sulayman Pasha.

Carriage museum:
The museum has a good collection of horse-drawn carriages used by Mohamed Ali dynasty.

Old Photo 1
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