Photo Essay: The Cairo Citadel
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta
The Cairo Citadel was built by Saladin in 1183AD, who overthrew the Fatimid Caliphate and then wanted to build a wall around Cairo with the Citadel as the centrepiece of the defensive arrangement. I was very very late but hoped I can still visit it.
The walls of the citadel and the bastions on the end are quite impressive I guess, but for a person who has grown up seeing Ranthanbore Fort, Agra Fort and other giant much more impressive forts of the Indian ilk, this wasn't really that impressive, but ok, lets not get into that.
Here’s the Mosque of Muhammad Ali.It is so much like the Ottoman Mosques of Istanbul.
The corridors outside the mosque are tall and very elegant, made around 1848, so its relatively new.
Out in the courtyard, an exquisitely carved marble fountain.
Then at the end, you get to see an extraordinary sight. This is the French brass clock tower which was presented to Mohammad Ali by King Louis Philippe of France in 1845 (this was reciprocated by an Obelisk of Luxor which stands at the Palace de la Concorde in Paris). You know what the tragedy was? the clock never worked, ever. And the French got a brilliant monument. The French looked after their gift much better than the Egyptians looked after their gift. It looks manky, dusty, the panes are broken, just sad all over the place.
This is the door sill stone for the door on the side of the mosque courtyard, it was highly polished and worn away from the millions of feet walking over the sill. Then went around to look at the view from the rear of the citadel over the city.
Dont have to tell you what those are. Following are some photographs of the city from a protruding corner of the citadel.
Then turned around to check out some of the few sights I could see, the policemen were starting to shoo people away as it was after 5 PM.
This is the place where Muhammad Ali killed hundreds of Mamluks who had gathered to ostensibly celebrate his son’s start of a campaign against the Wahhabi’s of Saudi Arabia. Gosh, those damn wahhabi’s were still fought against so many decades back. See that strange triangular structure on top? That’s a wind catcher and it would direct cooling breezes inside the building.
Another beautiful minaret on another mosque in the citadel, I didn't get a chance to even look into these things, perhaps the next visit :)
And I end with graffiti on the walls of the citadel. Here is the slideshow with more photographs and higher resolution.