The monumental Citadel of Saladin stands splendid and massive on a hill that overlooks the old city of Cairo. A fort complex that was constructed during the twelfth century by King Saladin and his brother King El-Addel to protect Cairo from invading Crusaders, it is today one of the most memorable attractions in a city filled with unforgettable sights. Whether you tour the Saladin Citadel during the daytime or gaze upon it by night, there are few greater places to visit in the whole of the country.
Historically, this citadel in Egypt has, unsurprisingly, seen a lot of action. Wave after wave of invaders targeted it, especially during its infancy when Cairo was seen as a city vulnerable to attack. However, the fortress proved ingeniously situated; able to rebuff even the most stringent of attackers, it by and large stood strong over the years, passing the test of time. To understand the importance this citadel in Egypt came to assume, you only have to look at the fact that the country’s government used it as its seat of power as recently as the nineteenth century.
That’s not to say, however, that the Saladin Citadel has remained the same as centuries have passed. Far from it, in fact: Like so many other city-fortresses-cum-seats-of-power, such as the Alcazar in Seville, its various structures tell a story of shifting times and rulers. An example of this can be found in the southern parts of the Citadel of Saladin, where enclosures designed to hold a fourteenth-century harem and courtyard, built at the behest of ruler al-Nasir Muhammed, display a different aesthetic mentality to the other, older buildings that surround them.
Similarly, the development of this citadel in Egypt can be seen in the form of the Mohamed Ali Mosque, which was added in the nineteenth century. A magnificent structure found at the highest point of the complex, its minarets and domed roofs mark it as a remarkable example of an Ottoman mosque. Inside, the mosque is just as impressive, both spacious and wondrously decorated. If the mosque doesn’t sate your desire to tour Egyptian mosques, there are two others contained in the Citadel of Saladin site: the Mosque of al-Nasir Muhammed and the Mosque of Suleyman Pasha, which is also Ottoman in style.
Cairo is, of course, an incredibly varied and mystical tourist destination, and once you’ve exhausted the Saladin Citadel there are plenty of other things to keep you busy here for months on end. In fact, listing the attractions to be found in Cairo is a bit like listing a wish list of things to see in your lifetime: the Pyramids of Giza, the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Egyptian Museum, and the Ibn Tulun. As a result, tourist provisions in Cairo are lengthy, and finding a hotel here that fits your budget and comfort needs should be of no problem at all.