CitadelsmllThe Citadel

This medieval fortress is the most prominent landmark on Cairo's skyline and a popular non-pharaonic site. It was originally built by Salah ad-Din (1171-1193). The Citadel sits majestically on a mountaintop, overlooking the city. Besides of a fortress it also functioned as a miniature royal city. Within the protecting walls the royal family could isolate themselves from the common people, yet keep an eye on their subjects. Sultans and pashas lived in this place for nearly 800 years.  The stone walls of the Citadel are 30 ft (10 metres) high and 10 ft (3 metres) thick. with upper ramparts and interior corridors.
On the side where now stands the Muhammad Ali Mosque used to be the Royal Harem which was surrounded by a wall and contained numerous pavilions, gardens and arcaded walkways. Each of the sultan's four acknowledged wives had her own building and her own household staff. In the harem over 1200 people were accommodated, including concubines, slave girls, eunuchs and other servants.

Interesting sights within the Citadel comprise the colossal Alabaster Muhammad Ali Mosque, the Carriage Museum, the Military Museum and the Jewellery Museum.