Cairo Citadel

Cairo Citadel

The mountain castle, or as commonly known, the Cairo citadel, is considered one of the greatest and mightiest fortresses during medieval times.  It was built by Saladin, who took the throne after the death of Al-Adid, the last Fatimid ruler. While Saladin was anchoring the pillars of his state in Egypt, he faced many challenges. One of which was how to defend the two great cities of Egypt, Cairo and Fustat. And this is how the Citadel was born.      

  El Gawhara Palace

El Gawhara Palace El Gawhara Palace or the Jewel Palace was built in the period from 1811 to 1814 by the ottoman ruler Mohamed Ali Pasha to be used ‎by Mohamed Ali and his royal family. ‎ Mohamed Ali named the palace after his last wife. In the 20th century, the name El Gawhara Misled some to think there are jewels to be found in the palace.  In their escape way, the thieves set part of the palace on fire.  The palace is now used as a museum hosting the valuable belongings of Mohamed Ali and his royal family.  Inside, you still enjoy the beauty of its architecture, elegant decorations that mix European and Ottoman architecture.      In 1250 the Mamluk rose to power and overthrew the Ayypid dynasty they once served. Al Nasir Mohammed was the ninth Bahri Mamluk sultan in Egypt who ruled for three reigns. The third was from1310 until his death in 1341. An-Nasir built his famous mosque in the Citadel during his third and longest reign. The mosque was constructed in Bahri Mamluk style; it had a hypostyle structure with a roof supported by columns. There were several mosques within the Citadel, but that of Sultan al-Nasir was one of the most glamorous in Cairo until the construction of Mohamed Ali Pasha's mosque.   Mohamed Ali Pasha's mosque is the most iconic mosque, not just in the Citadel but in all of Egypt. Mohamed Ali Pasha built the mosque in memory of Tusun Pasha, his oldest son, who died in 1816. Mohamed Ali wanted his mosque to be a declaration to his former overlords, the Ottomans of Egypt's independence.  We will see this in every detail throughout the mosque. That's why he chose to build the entire mosque in the Ottoman architectural style. The first part of the mosque is the courtyard or "Sahn." This large open courtyard is about 54 m in length and 53 m in width, surrounded by a single arched Narrow passage called Riwaq. In the heart of the Sahn, there is a fountain covered by a large domed resting on eight pillars with natural ornaments. At the far end of the center of the North, above which is an elaborate French Clock,   presented to Mohamed Ali in 1845 by the french King Luis Philip, in exchange for the obelisk in which it now stands at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Interestingly enough, the clock has never worked properly until now.      And the Two elegant cylindrical minarets, of Turkish type,  are situated on the western side of the mosque and rise to 82 meters.     Inside the mosque is Beit al-Salah" or "House of Prayer" dedicated to prayer, built with a central dome surrounded by four small domes and four semicircular domes. There are six decorations around the dome, which include the names of Allah (God) and Mohamed (the Prophet), as well as the names of the four rightly guided Caliphs, namely Abou Bakr, Omar, Othman, and Ali.        The Citadel witnessed many events that shaped the history of Egypt. The most famous of them is the ruthless mamluk mascara. In 1811  Mohamed Ali organized a grand ceremonial procession in Cairo, to which he invited some 500 Mameluke princes.   Assembled in the Citadel, they were warmly welcomed and treated to coffee, sweetmeats, and polite conversation. Still, when the time came for the procession, they had to go down a narrow, winding passageway between high walls in a single file.  Suddenly the gates at each end were slammed shut. Mohamed Ali's troops appeared on top of the walls and opened a murderous fire with muskets. More Mamelukes were swiftly hunted down and killed in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, to a total of perhaps 3,000. Thus, ending Mamluk influence in Egypt and consolidating his rule.     In our audio guide of the Citadel, we will explore not just the story of the Citadel but also the story of Cairo itself; as for the following seven centuries, The Citadel would influence Egypt and beyond.