The Citadel Overview

The Citadel of Cairo is a testament to Egypt's medieval defence architecture. It was built by Salah al-Din in the 12th century. This military complex offers panoramic views of Cairo from its vantage point on Mokattam Hill. Inside, you will find museums and ancient mosques like the Muhammad Ali Mosque, which are historically quite significant. A visit to the Citadel is a journey through time, showing Cairo's evolution from the historic to the modern-day era.

The Citadel in Cairo, known as the Citadel of Saladin, is a magnificent fortress offering a glimpse into Egypt’s rich history. It is located on the Mokattam hills near the centre of Cairo. This historic citadel was built by Salah ad-Din in the late 12th century to protect the city from Crusaders. Then, it became the residence of Egypt's rulers for nearly 700 years.

The Citadel's architecture is proof of its historical importance and showcases the strategic defensive features of the Ayyubid era. It includes several mosques, palaces, and museums. The Citadel houses the popular Mosque of Muhammad Ali, also known as the Alabaster Mosque. This mosque, built in the 19th century by Muhammad Ali Pasha, is famous for its huge domes and minarets. The Citadel is located atop a hill and offers stunning views over Cairo as well as the Pyramids of Giza. 

In addition to being a military structure, the Citadel is also a symbol of Cairo's rich past. It has witnessed numerous historical events and was a key figure in Egypt's governance and defence. Today, it serves as a museum where you can learn about Cairo's fascinating history.

Location: Salah Salem St, Al Abageyah, El-Khalifa, Cairo Governorate

Timings: 8 am to 4 pm

Price: 100 Egyptian Pounds per person


• Explore the stunning Muhammad Ali Mosque, famous for its Islamic and Ottoman-style tall minarets and alabaster walls.
• Learn about the history of the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque, where ancient architectural grace meets the legends of past rulers.
• Enjoy panoramic views of Cairo from the Citadel's vantage points, and witness the Pyramids of Giza on a clear day.
• Wander through the Military Museum to learn about Egypt's rich military heritage.
• Step back in time at the Gawhara Palace, which offers insights into the grand lives of Egypt's rulers.

How To Reach

By Road: The Citadel is located 13.6 kilometres from the Cairo city centre. From here, taxis as well as buses are readily available. The journey takes around 15 to 20 minutes. Additionally, buses and minibuses serve routes from different parts of Cairo to the Citadel. 

By Metro: You can also take the Cairo Metro and get off at the Mar Girgis station on Line 1. It is the nearest station to the Citadel, around 7.3 kilometres away. From the station, take a taxi or minibus to the Citadel, which will take around 20 minutes. 

By Train: While Cairo itself is served by a railway network, there is no direct train service to the Citadel. The main railway station in Cairo is Ramses Station. It is 9.9 kilometres away from the Citadel. From the station, take a taxi directly to the Citadel, which will take around 30 minutes.

Best Time To Visit

The Citadel in Cairo welcomes visitors year-round. Its rich history and breathtaking architecture remain the same with the changing seasons.

Best Day: Opt for a visit on weekdays to avoid the weekend rush. This is when the site is less crowded. During the week, you can also enjoy a more intimate exploration of its historic walls and museums.

Best Time of the Day: Plan your visit to the Citadel during the morning hours, when it opens for the day. Not only will you enjoy the cool morning air, but you will also have the opportunity to witness the site in a more tranquil state before the daily crowds arrive.

Other Essential Information

Tips to visit The Citadel

1. Wear comfortable shoes for exploring the vast complex of the Citadel.

2. Bring a water bottle to remain hydrated, since Cairo's heat can be intense during the day.

3. Arrive early to avoid crowds and experience the Citadel in a quieter state.

4. Check for any special events or closures before your visit to plan accordingly.

5. Use a map or hire a guide to enrich your experience with historical insights.

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Point of Interest for The Citadel
Discover the Grandeur of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali

Discover the Grandeur of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali

Step into the awe-inspiring Mosque of Muhammad Ali during your visit to the Citadel in Cairo. This mosque was built between 1830 and 1848 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt. The mosque is also often referred to as the Alabaster Mosque. It is one of the most popular attractions within the Citadel complex. Here, you can see extensive use of alabaster, which gleams in the sunlight, creating a serene ambience. Admire the mosque's towering minarets which offer panoramic views of the Cairo cityscape. The sights from here cover the entire city along with the Nile River in the distance.

Walk Through the Gates of the Past at the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque

Walk Through the Gates of the Past at the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque

Navigate your way to the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque after you visit the Citadel. This mosque was built in 1318, during the Mamluk era by Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad. Here, you can learn about the rich history of Egypt during the 14th century. Admire its majestic arches and the quiet courtyard of the mosque, which invite reflection and peace. Standing here, you can feel a connection to the past, in a way that is both humbling and deep. This mosque, with its unique blend of Islamic architectural elements, offers a glimpse into the glory of Mamluk Cairo as well.

Unravel History at the National Military Museum

Unravel History at the National Military Museum

The National Military Museum within the Citadel's ancient walls is a treasure box of Egypt's martial legacy. Here, you will find yourself on a chronological journey of bravery and strategy that has shaped the nation. It chronicles the country's military history, from the Pharaonic and Ottoman eras to modern independence. Here, you can find ancient weapons that tell tales of valour, such as the bows, chariots, and artefacts that were used during wars. As you walk through its halls, you can see displays of uniforms, medals, and documents of Egyptian warriors.

Witness the Panoramic Splendor from Gawhara Terrace

Witness the Panoramic Splendor from Gawhara Terrace

The Gawhara Terrace is named after the Gawhara Palace, situated within the Citadel. It was built for Muhammad Ali's last wife and offers a vantage point, from where you can gaze out over Cairo's sprawling expanse. You can see where the modern city with its towering skyscrapers meets the timeless river of the Nile. The terrace is an ideal spot for contemplation and photography too. It also captures the beauty of the whole of Cairo's skyline against the backdrop of the setting sun. In addition, the terrace adds to the Citadel's strategic significance, which has watched over Cairo for centuries.

Step Back in Time at the Carriage Museum

Step Back in Time at the Carriage Museum

Immerse yourself in the elegance of the old eras at the Carriage Museum. The museum houses a collection that showcases the luxury of Egypt's royal vehicles. Here, you can find carriages from the 19th century, which symbolise royal opulence and tell stories of ceremonies, celebrations, and state affairs. As you explore the museum, you can see the carriages adorned with gold, velvet, and intricate wood carvings. This museum offers a unique peek into the lavish lifestyle and ceremonial extravagance of those who once ruled from the Citadel.

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