Cairo's eastern skyline is dominated by the Cairo Citadel, one of the world's greatest medieval monuments. Along with Old Cairo, the Citadel is among the city's most impressive historical sites and a must-see for visitors to Cairo.
Cairo Citadel was built on a spur of limestone under orders from the great military leader Salah al-Din Yusuf, who is known to the West as Saladin. During the 12th century, this Muslim general became famous for his success in repelling Christian crusades in the Middle East, but during an earlier phase in his military career Saladin was stationed in Egypt. It was during this time that Saladin ordered the construction of Cairo Citadel, providing a fortified structure to protect the area against Crusader attacks. Don't miss out the ‘well of Joseph', this 285-feet deep well dug to provide water for the people and the animals of the citadel. When the well was not producing enough, water was transported from the nearby Nile river to the wall of the city.
Enlarged and remodeled
Since those medieval times, every power that has occupied Cairo has used the Citadel. Each force has left its own mark, giving visitors an unprecedented opportunity to look back at almost one thousand years of history in one location. The Ottomans expanded westward, when Mohammed Ali crowned the eastern skyline with a mosque built to rival Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
Best viewpoint in Cairo
A walk around the massive fortifications at Cairo Citadel reveals palaces, mosques, and museums which show the grandeur of the Egyptian capital's history.
From the grand terrace in front of the Mohammed Ali Pasha mosque, take in breath-taking views over the city and the old Islamic Cairo just down below. On the horizon, you'll see the Nile river and even the Pyramid of Giza (on a clear day)!