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The Citadel

The Citadel is the natural focus of a visit to Islamic Cairo. It represents the most dramatic feature of Cairo’s skyline: a centuries-old bastion crowned by the needle-like minarets of the Great Mosque of Mohamed Ali, This fortified complex was begun by Salah El- Din, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Slah El-Din reign (1171-93) saw much fortification of the city, though it was his nephew, Al-Kamil , who developed the Citadel as a royal residence, later to be replaced by the palaces of Sultan Al Nasir.

The main features of the Citadel as it is today, however , are associated with Mohammd Ali, a worthy successor to the Mamlukes and Turks. In 1811 he feasted 470 leading Mamluks in the Citadel palace, bade them farewell with honours, then had them ambushed in the sloping lane behind the Bab al-Azab, the locked gate opposite to the Akhur Mosque.

Nowadays the main entrance to the Citadel is at a higher level, closer to the centre of the complex. There is superb view of the entire city from the Citadel’s terrace

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