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 Khedive
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
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.
The mosque was built by Bahari
Mamluk Sultan Al-Nasser
Mohamed in 1318. The mosque has two distinctive minarets.
It was decorated from inside with marble panels but they were
all moved by the Ottoman
the Grim to Istanbul. The mosque was restored after the
dome felt several times, so it's current dome dates to 1935.
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 "Bir
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
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 obelisk
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
The museum was a Harem
palace and was built by Mohamed Ali. Now it's a museum that
exhibits weapons and military uniforms that date back to the
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
The museum has a good collection of horse-drawn carriages
used by Mohamed Ali dynasty.