Citadel of Saladin Established in the 12th century by the famous Arabian king and army leader, Saladin El Ayouby, the citadel is one of the most impressive forts constructed in the middle ages.The Saladin Cairo Citadel became even more important when it became the seat of the ruler of Egypt for a period that exceeded five decades. Today almost any travel package to Egypt would include a visit to the citadel.
Saladin carefully elected the location of his citadel in Cairo city. Fearing the repetitive attacks of the crusaders on the Middle East, Saladin constructed his citadel on a high cliff under the Mokattam Mountain in Cairo city. This defensive position made it quite hard for any attackers to break through the fortified walls of the citadel.
Salah ed-din citadel can be easily reached by a taxi in Cairo. It is situated near many attractions like the sultan Hassan mosque and the Egyptian Museum . However, many tourists who spend their vacation time in Egypt prefer to go book a travel package in Egypt so that they get the best out of their holidays.
The Cairo citadel mosque is the most important highlight of the Saladin Citadel in Cairo city is surly the mosque of Muhammad Ali to the extent that some people think that the citadel is actually the Mohamed Ali mosque. Ali mosque is one of the most famous mosques in Egypt.
The construction of the Muhammad Ali mosque started in 1830 and it was finished in 1849. The mosque was constructed following the Ottoman style and outlines of architecture, as Muhammad Ali wanted to compete with the mosques of Istanbul. The mosque is featured with its wonderful marble which coats almost all of its entire inner walls and grounds. This is besides the golden-coated wonderfully ornamented Mihrab and Minbar of the mosque.
The mosque also hosts the mausoleum of its builder; Mohamed Ali, which consists of a huge body of marble with a copper golden coated gallery surrounding it. It was designed in a mixture between the Ottoman and Islamic outlines and Mohamed Ali was buried there when he passed away, all this in salah ed-din Castle.
Qasr El Jawhara which also known as the Jewel palace is situated in the Southern West section of the Citadel and it was named after the name of the wife of Mohamed Ali; Jawhara. The palace consists of two floors featured with their simple designs except for two large golden-coated mirrors in each floor.
The most important section of the palace is the hall where Mohamed Ali ruled the country and the palace contains his golden chair. The most important feature of the palace is that it witnessed the famous massacre Mohamed Ali had when he got rid of the all the Mamluks when he invited them for dinner and then ordered his men to kill them inside this palace.
The Southern section of Salah ed-din castle Egypt is characterized by being situated upper than any other section of the citadel offers magnificent views of Cairo city. Situated near the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, tourists from all over the world who spend their tours in Egypt enjoy watching wonderful monuments like the Mosque of Sultan Hassan and the Mosque of El Refaie from this superb area. Many of the children who spend their holidays in Egypt find this as the most attractive part of the Salah ed-din citadel.
Salah ed-din citadel hosts a large number of interesting places to explore for travelers during their vacation in Egypt. This includes the Military Museum that demonstrates the military history of Egypt since prehistoric times and until the late 1970s. some schools prepare trips to the military museum to help the students understand their military history. There is also the Police Museum with many interesting displays like the photos of the real Raya and Sekina, the famous serial killers that lived in Alexandria in the beginning of the 20th century.
Not only the Military Museum and the Police Museum, The citadel also has the wonderful small royal carriage museum, which is situated in an isolated part of the citadel and featured with hosting some of the remarkable carriages of Muhammad Ali and his royal family members. There are the Mosques of El Nasser Mohamed, the first mosque to be constructed in the fortress and the Mosque of Suleiman Pasha that was erected in the Ottoman period in Egypt. Cairo city is also known as the city of a thousand minarets which make it has the most magnificent mosques in Egypt.
The Citadel of Salah ed-din was constructed to consist of two sections; the Northern section which was a military stronghold with large fortified walls sounding it from the Northern and Eastern directions. These walls have small openings carved inside them to enable the soldiers to protect the fortress in the case of any attack.
The second section of the Salah ed-din Citadel, the Northern section, was specified as the residence for the ruler of Egypt and it contained also a large palace that many of the kinds of Egypt lived in. However, this section was changed completely afterwards and nothing really survived from the original constructions.
The Citadel of Salah ed-din had many gates in many of its walls in order to facilitate the entrance and exists of soldiers and different people visiting the citadel. One of the most important gates of the fortress is the Mokattam Gate which was established during the Ottoman era. today It is known as Salah Salem gate in reference to the name of the street where it is located today. This is the main entrance to the citadel nowadays in Cairo.
Also, another important gate in the Saladin Citadel is the New Gate that was established by Muhammad Ali in 1827 to enable larger military cars and canons to enter the citadel. This gate is located near Dar El Mahfozat, the national records office of Egypt, situated to the Western section of the walls of the citadel.
One of the most astonishing features of the Saladin Citadel is the Josef water well as it is a unique piece of architectural art as it consists of two deep holes in the ground. This was why some historians thought that the citadel has two water wells. One of the halls is actually big enough to enable bulls to enter deep under the ground to move the waterwheel situated in the deeper section of the well in order to elevate the water to upper levels.
Since the Salah ed-din Citadel became the residence of the rulers of Egypt for a long period of time, many of these kings and Sultans had many establishments constructed inside the citadel to create the fortress we have today.
The construction of the Citadel started in 1176 AD when Sultan Saladin Al Ayouby ordered his Vizier; Bahaa’ El Din Karakosh to demolish the buildings and the tombs that were occupying the location of the fortress at the time.
The builders had to dig an artificial tunnel between the Mokattam Mountain and the cliff that hosted the citadel in order to increase the difficulty to reach it.
Saladin also had to dig a large water well so that the soldiers can find their supply of water inside the citadel. This was among the hardest missions to be accomplished as the men had to dig for more than 90 meters deep inside hard rocks which took a long period of time to be achieved.
One of the reasons Salah ed-din chose this exact location to construct his citadel is that it was situated between the two old capitals of Egypt at the time; El Fustat and Cairo city. It also provided a link between the fortress and the city in case of siege, and it would be the last place to resort in case the enemies took control of Cairo city.
However, the builder of the citadel, Saladin, didn’t have the chance to view the greatness of his establishment as he passed away in 1193 and his Vizier, Karakosh, is the one who completed it in 1204 and his brother, El Malek El Adel was the first king to take the citadel as his residence. At the end the castle today is known after Saladin name.