Cairo, Egypt: Citadel of Salah al Din

Built on a hill of limestone, the citadel began as a pavilion built in 810 and was later fortified by Saladin between 1176 and 1183 to create a fortified royal city. Saladin, of the Ayyubid dynasty, who had come from Syria, introduced to Egypt the custom of building a fortress to serve as a stronghold for the local ruler. He utilized the most advanced building techniques of the time, such as the inclusion of large round towers that would allow defenders of the fortress to more easily deter any intruders attempting to scale the city’s walls.  Following Saladin’s death, his nephew reinforced the citadel, adding several more large towers.

Today, as one of Cairo’s most popular historical sights, the Citadel provides insight to the area’s Islamic heritage as well as into its centuries old past. The site provides stunning, sweeping views of the city from every direction. Visitors can tour a variety of  monuments at the Citadel, such as the Mohammed Ali Mosque, which is dominant in the city’s skyline, the Mosque of Sultan al Nasir, the Police National Museum and the Military Museum. The mosques are much more visually alluring than the museums, but it is well worth the time to spend at least half a day exploring all of the sights of the Citadel.