REVIEW

Travel Review: Trip to Saladin's Citadel in Cairo

June 29, 2010
DeeptiA

This is a brief write up of a visit to a couple of areas inside Cairo, a major monument, called Saladin's Citadel, a majestic site on a hill. It is in the nature of a fortification that also contains 2 beautiful mosques, called Muhammad Ali mosque, and the Mosque of Nasir. Saladin's Citadel is a structure that bears great importance to the history of Cairo. During the time of the Crusades, Fustat (now a part of Cairo) was the capital of Egypt, and Saladin wanted to ensure that his rule was safe from the Crusaders and other enemies. So, Saladin's concept was to build a massive structure as well as a huge wall.

Saladin built the Citadel beneath the Muqattam Hills, and got his wish about making a place that was difficult to attack, although the wall was never built during his reign. Saladin rules Egypt from the Citadel, and from that time onwards till the 1860's, the Citadel remained the seat of the Egyptian center of power. However, the importance of the Citadel as a place of power declined during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, since for them, Turkey was the center and Egypt was a province. Over a period of time, the structure that Saladin had built was expanded, with the rulers after him adding water well enhancements, mosques, other offices, and more buildings, including defense walls. Right now, the Citadel, contains 3 mosques, a Palace (Al-Gawhara Palace), and 2 museums (National Military Museum and the Police Museum).


Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of the walls and the domes of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Closer view of the domes
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Closer view of the domes

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Landscaping done to get the name of Allah on the plant
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Landscaping done to get the name of Allah on the plant

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of defensive tower in the structure
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of defensive tower in the structure

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Grand arched Entrance to the Nasir mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Grand arched Entrance to the Nasir mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Grand corridors, pillars, and lamps in the Nasir mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Grand corridors, pillars, and lamps in the Nasir mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - enclosure with carvings in the Nasir mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - enclosure with carvings in the Nasir mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Hypostyle corridor in the Nasir mosque with wonderful pillars
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Hypostyle corridor in the Nasir mosque with wonderful pillars

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Tourists in the passageway inside the complex with an incline
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Tourists in the passageway inside the complex with an incline

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - View from the outside of the Police Museum inside the complex
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - View from the outside of the Police Museum inside the complex

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - View of the narrow passageway, as seen from the height of the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - View of the narrow passageway, as seen from the height of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of the metal lattice of a window along with a lamp
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of the metal lattice of a window along with a lamp

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Map of the inside of the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - Map of the inside of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the center point of the open courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the center point of the open courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - a corridor inside the courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - a corridor inside the courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the well inside the courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the well inside the courtyard of the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the wonderful view inside the Mohammed Ali Mosque with 365 lamps
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the wonderful view inside the Mohammed Ali Mosque with 365 lamps

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the 365 lamps hanging from the ceiling in the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the 365 lamps hanging from the ceiling in the Mohammed Ali Mosque

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the altar inside the Mohammed Ali Mosque used for prayer
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the altar inside the Mohammed Ali Mosque used for prayer

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the open space behind the Mohammed Ali Mosque, also a mini shopping area
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - the open space behind the Mohammed Ali Mosque, also a mini shopping area

Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of many parts of Cairo from the Mohammed Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel in Cairo - view of many parts of Cairo from the Mohammed Ali Mosque

When we reached the place, the vehicle stayed in the parking, and it is around a 15 minute walk from there to the top of the structure, where you can get a grand view of Cairo, after passing through a narrow passage (with the Wash Rooms being located in this passage - be prepared to shell out 1 Egyptian pound per tourist using the Wash Room to the attendant), and then you cross the mosques one by one, cross the museums (climbing a bit as you move), until you reach the Mohammed Ali Mosque and then the view.
You should allocate around 3-4 hours for this, admire the mosques (they are indeed beautiful), admire the view, and admire the overall structure (including a huge clock that was given as a gift by a European king, but which never worked); and then there is a well.
From here, we moved back to our vehicle, and then to the Khan el Khalili in the middle of town. The market is located in the middle of the city, and is located next to the Al Azhar University (the most famous place of Islamic learning in Egypt and in the Arab world). The market dates back to the 14th century, and has seen a huge part of the history of Cairo. Twice in the recent past decade, there have been terrorist attacks that have killed tourists (one killed a total of 21 people, and the last one happened only last year), so there is a large police presence clearly. Further, vehicles are not allowed to be parked there, but pick and drop from just next to the market is allowed. In front of the market, there are many eating places. Inside the market, expect to do an incredible amount of bargaining (but quality can be a concern in many cases), and expect to find narrow alleyways. It seems a bit strange, but is supposed to be very safe for tourists now. We spent around 2-3 hours in the two parallel paths inside the market, and did a bit of spending.

Khan el Khalili market in cairo - View of the front part
Khan el Khalili market in cairo - View of the front part

Khan el Khalili market in Cairo - starting to move inside
Khan el Khalili market in Cairo - starting to move inside

Khan el Khalili market in Cairo - shopping stuff hanging from both sides
Khan el Khalili market in Cairo - shopping stuff hanging from both sides

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Travel Review: Trip to Saladin's Citadel in Cairo

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Author: DeeptiA

 

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