Otherwise known as Saladin Citadel Of Cairo or Salah Al-Din Citadel(Al-Qalaa) is also called Mohamed Ali Citadel. It is a visible landmark and a World Heritage Site that groups many mosques and museums representing medieval Royal Palaces on Mukattam Hills.
The citadel was built by Saladin, the Ayyubid ruler between 1176 and 1183 on Mukattam hills. The ‘Well of Joseph’ which is about 280 ft was dug for water purposes was not enough but is still a part of the structure.
The whole citadel was later fortified by Saladin’s successors. When Mamluks took over, many of the palace and structures were demolished. Many structures and palaces were built by Mamluks but the only remaining is Al-Nasir Mohammed Mosque and his palace which is used as Police Museum.
The Ottoman’s built the largest tower called the Burg al-Muqattam or Burg al-Turfah which rises above the entrance to the Citadel. They also rebuilt the walls called Bab-el Azab. Ottoman ruler, Mohamed Ali Pasha renovated many buildings and built Mohamed Ali Mosque and Gawarah Palace.
Mohamed Ali built 3 Harem Palaces which nowadays used as Military Museum. Next to it is a statue of Suleiman Pasha and a Carriage Museum that houses 8 carriages of Mohamed Ali’s family. Suleiman Pasha Mosque was the first Ottoman-style mosque was built in Egypt.
Islamic Cairo’s biggest treasure trove, Salah-al-din Castle and its accompanying mosques and museums take the biggest part of the attraction.
3 Fetching Mosques:
- Al-Nasir Mohammed Mosque : This mosque is also called Hypostyle Mosque is built during the Mamluk period in 1318 and is renovated many times; you can see attempts of restoring the light-blue colouring of the ceiling.
- Mohamed Ali Mosque : Also known as Alabaster Mosque, it was built between 1830 and 1848. Muhammad Ali Pasha was buried in a Carrara marble tomb in the courtyard of the mosque but the body was later transferred.
- Suleiman Pasha Mosque : First of Ottoman-style mosque, was built on the ruins of an old mosque of Abu Mansur Questa.
4 Arresting Museums:
- National Military Museum : Mohamed Ali’s Harem palaces with Ottoman design with Ibrahim statue on the front was established as Military Museum by King Faroq is one of the engaging museums of Cairo.
- Police Museum : Al- Nasir Mohammed‘s palace which was used as prison is now being converted to Police Museum and is a must-see attraction.
- Carriage Museum : Next to the statue of Suleiman Pasha, Royal Carriages Museum is exactly that. It carries a unique collection of carriages that dates from Khedive Ismail reign to King Faroq.
- Al-Gawhara Palace (Jewel) museum : Also called Bijou Palace, built by Mohamed Ali in 1814 was named after his wife. The opulent building is a sight to behold with stunning entrances, breathtaking royal bedrooms and amazing throne room with the awe-inspiring throne of Mohamed Ali which was apparently gifted from King of Italy.
However, apart from that ‘Well of Joseph’, Burg al-Turfah, Bab el-Azab and so on are remarkably understated sites that equally magnify the impact of this Cairo Citadel. NILE HOLIDAY offers you the ride in the enchanting royal castle of Cairo…