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NileGuide Expert Says:
If you visit only one Islamic monument in Cairo, make it the Citadel: the views are stunning, and you get a three-for-one deal on mosques!
Privet Entrance Bel Kalaa, Egypt
NileGuide Expert tip:
The Citadel is very popular with school parties, so be prepared to be mobbed if your visits coincide!
The Citadel is one of Cairo's most popular and readily identifiable attractions. In the 12th Century AD Salah ad-Din (known as Saladin in the west) recognised that Cairo needed a fortress to help protect the city against attack by the Crusaders. He chose this prominent limestone spur, that is now on the edge of what is known as Islamic Cairo
, for his stronghold. It later became the seat of government, until the middle of the 19th Century. It has always maintained some sort of military garrison, even up to the present day.
The Citadel offers some of the most spectacular views of Cairo, and it's great fun trying to identify sights from here that you have already visited. You should even be able to make out the Pyramids
It also contains three mosques that represent very different architectural styles: the Mamluk an-Nasir Mohammed Mosque
, the Ottoman Suleiman Pasha Mosque
, and the Mohammed Ali Mosque
. The latter is huge and opulent, and its spires dominate the skyline of Cairo.
As well as the views, fortifications and mosques, the Citadel has a number of museums: the Military Museum
; the Police Museum
; al-Gawhara Palace Museum
; and the Carriage Museum
The Citadel is best reached by taxi. Just next door are the Sultan Hassan Mosque
and al-Refa'i Mosque
, and it's also possible to walk towards Ibn Tulun Mosque
and the Gayer-Anderson Museum
, or even to Khan el-Khalili bazaar