The Citadel Of Salah El Din

The Citadel Of Salah El Din

One of Cairo's most popular tourist attractions is The Citadel, located on a spur of limestone that had been detached from its parent Moqattam Hills by quarrying. The Citadel began it's life not as a great military base of operations, but as the "Dome of the Wind", a pavilion created in 810 by Hatim Ibn Hartama, who was then governor. These early governors, not realizing it strategic importance, simply used the pavilion for its view of Cairo. In 1176, Salah ad-Din fortified the area to protect it against attacks by the Crusaders, and since then, it has never been without a military garrison.

In 1218 Sultan al-Kamil, Salah ad-Din's nephew moved his residence to The Citadel, and until the consturction of the Abdin Palace in the mid-19th century, it was the seat of government for the Country of Egypt.

Most of the fortification's enterior were built after Salah ad-Din's rule, being added to by almost every invader including the British, some of whom destroyed much of what existed before them. Al Nasir Muhammad leveled most of Salah al-Din's buildings and later Muhamad Ali did the same to the Mamluk structures.

The Citadel actually consists of three main sections, surrounded by their own walls with towers and gates. These consist of the Lower Enclosure (El-Azab), the Northern Enclosure (El-Ankishariya) and the Southern Enclosure which is The Citadel proper (El-Qal'a). The two main gates are on the north (Bab el-Gadid) and south (Bab el-Gabal). Particularly when viewed from the back side (from the north), The Citadel reveals a very medieval character

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