Citadel / Mosque of Mohammed Ali

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by billmoy on July 26, 2002

The Citadel is perhaps the most impressive Muslim complex in Cairo. The site was founded by Salah al-Din (more commonly known as the Anglicized Saladin) at the foot of the Mukattam Hill in 1176 AD.

The north entrance to the Citadel was closed, so we had to walk around the perimeter of the complex, deftly dodging local drivers, dealers and dealmakers. We finally entered the Citadel through the south entrance, and once inside we were away from the pesky peddlers! There are quite a few interesting buildings within the Citadel walls. The views from inside and atop the Citadel are impressive.

The picturesque Mosque of Mohammed Ali is relatively modern in age and style. It was built from 1824 to 1848, with the tin-sheathed domes being rebuilt in the 1930's. This distinctive mosque, with its slender minarets, is glossier and more touristy than other mosques. Creamy alabaster was used on the exterior and interior for a brighter look. My friend and I sat on one of the carpets critiquing the curious interior design, with an intrusive amount of round globe lamp fixtures and chandeliers that belonged more in a hotel lobby or store rather than in a religious mosque. It was interesting to observe cultural differences, as the devout visitors prayed while the uninformed visitors acted as if they were in a hotel lobby or store.

The Citadel also houses a Military Museum, which can be skipped if you are not a big history buff of modern Egypt. Otherwise, stop in for a quick history lesson on the great victories during various Egyptian wars. There are colorful displays, weapons, statues, uniforms, etc. The Citadel contains other notable structures like the Mosque of Suleyman Pasha, the Mosque of Sultan al-Nasir, Yussef's Well, and the Al-Gawhara Palace.

Citadel Complex
Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt
20 2 512 9619

© LP 2000-2009