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Citadel of Saladin and the Muhammad Ali Mosque - Historic Cairo

Kairo, Egypt
21.10.2023

The Zitadelle von Saleh El Din and the Muhammad-Ali-Moschee, located in the bustling city of Cairo, Egypt, are two of the most significant historical and architectural landmarks in the country. Built in the 19th century, these structures stand as a testament to the rich cultural and religious history of Egypt.

The Zitadelle von Saleh El Din, also known as the Citadel of Cairo, was constructed by the famous ruler and military leader, Saladin, in the 12th century. The citadel served as a strategic fortress to protect the city against invasions and has been used by various rulers throughout history. Today, it stands as a well-preserved example of medieval Islamic military architecture. Visitors can explore the citadel's impressive walls, towers, and courtyards, and take in the stunning views of Cairo from its elevated position.

Within the citadel complex, lies the magnificent Muhammad-Ali-Moschee. This grand mosque was built in the 1800s by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt at the time. The mosque's striking appearance is inspired by the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul, with its tall minarets and impressive domes. Inside, visitors can admire the intricate details of the mosque's interior, including the beautiful marble floors, ornate chandeliers, and colorful stained glass windows.

Aside from its architectural beauty, the Muhammad-Ali-Mosque also holds great historical significance. It is the burial place of Muhammad Ali Pasha and his family, and it played a significant role in the country's political and religious development.

Visiting the Zitadelle von Saleh El Din and the Muhammad-Ali-Moschee is a must for anyone interested in Egypt's history and culture. These landmarks offer a fascinating insight into the country's past and are a testament to the incredible architectural achievements of the time. So, if you find yourself in Cairo, make sure to add these two impressive structures to your list of must-see destinations.


The Citadel of Cairo or Citadel of Saladin (Arabic: قلعة صلاح الدين, romanized: Qalaʿat Salāḥ ad-Dīn) is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo, Egypt, built by Salah ad-Din (Saladin) and further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th century until the construction of Abdeen Palace in the 19th century. Its location on a promontory of the Mokattam hills near the center of Cairo commands a strategic position overlooking the city and dominating its skyline. When it was constructed it was among the most impressive and ambitious military fortification projects of its time. It is now a preserved historic site, including mosques and museums.

In addition to the initial Ayyubid-era construction begun by Saladin in 1176, the Citadel underwent major development during the Mamluk Sultanate that followed, culminating with the construction projects of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad in the 14th century. In the first half of the 19th century Muhammad Ali Pasha demolished many of the older buildings and built new palaces and monuments all across the site, giving it much of its present form. In the 20th century it was used as a military garrison by the British occupation and then by the Egyptian Army until being opened to the public in 1983. In 1976, it was proclaimed by UNESCO as a part of the World Heritage Site Historic Cairo (Islamic Cairo) which was "the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century."

The Muhammad Ali Mosque or Alabaster Mosque (Arabic: مسجد محمد علي) is a mosque situated in the Citadel of Cairo in Egypt and was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848. Situated on the summit of the citadel, this Ottoman mosque, the largest to be built in the first half of the 19th century, is, with its animated silhouette and twin minarets, the most visible mosque in Cairo. The mosque was built in memory of Tusun Pasha, Muhammad Ali's eldest son, who died in 1816. This mosque, along with the nearby Cairo Citadel, are one of the landmarks and tourist attractions of Cairo .

Tucked away amid the modern urban area of Cairo lies one of the world's oldest Islamic cities, with its famous mosques, madrasas, hammams and fountains. Founded in the 10th century, it became the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century.

The Citadel of Cairo or Citadel of Saladin (Arabic: قلعة صلاح الدين, romanized: Qalaʿat Salāḥ ad-Dīn) is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo, Egypt, built by Salah ad-Din (Saladin) and further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th century until the construction of Abdeen Palace in the 19th century. Its location on a promontory of the Mokattam hills near the center of Cairo commands a strategic position overlooking the city and dominating its skyline. When it was constructed it was among the most impressive and ambitious military fortification projects of its time. It is now a preserved historic site, including mosques and museums.

In addition to the initial Ayyubid-era construction begun by Saladin in 1176, the Citadel underwent major development during the Mamluk Sultanate that followed, culminating with the construction projects of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad in the 14th century. In the first half of the 19th century Muhammad Ali Pasha demolished many of the older buildings and built new palaces and monuments all across the site, giving it much of its present form. In the 20th century it was used as a military garrison by the British occupation and then by the Egyptian Army until being opened to the public in 1983. In 1976, it was proclaimed by UNESCO as a part of the World Heritage Site Historic Cairo (Islamic Cairo) which was "the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century."

Islamic Cairo (Arabic: قاهرة المعز, romanized: Qāhira al-Muʿizz, lit. 'Al-Mu'izz's Cairo'), or Medieval Cairo, officially Historic Cairo (القاهرة التاريخية al-Qāhira tārīkhiyya), refers mostly to the areas of Cairo, Egypt, that were built from the Muslim conquest in 641 CE until the city's modern expansion in the 19th century during Khedive Ismail's rule, namely: the central parts within the old walled city, the historic cemeteries, the area around the Citadel of Cairo, parts of Bulaq, and Old Cairo (Arabic: مصر القديمة, lit. 'Misr al-Qadima') which dates back to Roman times and includes major Coptic Christian monuments.

The name "Islamic" Cairo refers not to a greater prominence of Muslims in the area but rather to the city's rich history and heritage since its foundation in the early period of Islam, while distinguishing it from with the nearby Ancient Egyptian sites of Giza and Memphis. This area holds one of the largest and densest concentrations of historic architecture in the Islamic world.: 7  It is characterized by hundreds of mosques, tombs, madrasas, mansions, caravanserais, and fortifications dating from throughout the Islamic era of Egypt.

In 1979, UNESCO proclaimed Historic Cairo a World Cultural Heritage site, as "one of the world's oldest Islamic cities, with its famous mosques, madrasas, hammams and fountains" and "the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century."

wikipedia.org