This ancient city of Cairo is the capital of Egypt and is home to some of the world’s greatest treasures and religious sites. A sprawling and densely populated city is called home by twelve million people. The best museums in the world and a concentration of religious sites with significance to Muslims, Christians and Jews are present here. Cairo is second in this respect only to the city of Jerusalem.
Sights to see:
A walk through the various districts of the Cairo can bring you face to face with the glorious and history and heritage of the region. Cairo was never inhabited by the pharaohs of Egypt and was founded to form a trading post for the world conquering Romans. Cairo has a unique play ground of monuments and historical centers because very ruler did not destroy anything but built a new city near the old one.
A hill situated above the city of Cairo was unknowingly ignored by the many rulers for its strategic value. But with the arrival of the ruler Saladin all defense strategies were to be turned on its head. The Cairo Citadel was the key structure in Saladin’s defense plans a few years down his arrival in 1168.
Magnificent Cairo Citadel:
The original fortress is all gone and the only remains are the sections of the walls and the Bir Yusuf. The bir Yusuf is the well which was to draw water for the citadel. The Ayyubid walls and the towers were built after the experience which was gained during the wars of the Crusades. These walls encircle the north enclosure and are 10 feet thick and 33 feet tall.
The feature that dominates the skyline of Cairo is the Mosque of Muhammad ‘Ali. It has being doing so for about a hundred and fifty years. The Ottoman law disallowed anyone other than the sultan himself from building mosques. And the other restriction was that a mosque could have only one minaret. But amazing this mosque has two minarets. Building the mosque was Muhammad Ali’s way of saying that he was not going to be submissive to Istanbul.
The Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque is an elegant beauty and stands behind the gilded mosque of Muhammad ‘Ali. The proportions of the Mosque make it elegant and crafted masonry is hard to believe. The building is believed to be a Mamluk piece of art work. The indications which suggest this is the controlled and ornate work which heightens the beauty of the minaret.
The ottoman conquerors plundered and carried off all the original decorations gracing the interiors of the mosque to Istanbul. The space is impressive even without its prized interiors. A variety of sources helped in getting the many supporting columns of the courtyard. One of the sources is the great ancient Egyptian structures.
History behind the Cairo Citadel:
Very advanced techniques of construction were put into effect to form a bastion that was impenetrable in the Citadel. These techniques were ahead of the times. For the next seven hundred years the whole of Egypt was ruled from the top of this hill. The Ayyubid buildings were destroyed by Al-Nasir Muhammad who was considered to be the greatest mamluk sultan.
He ruled at three varied occasions during the 1330s for a sum of forty two long years. During this time to fulfill and make room for his personal needs several beautiful palaces and a mosque were torn down. Space was also created by this disruption to make additional army barracks.
Even these changes still not last the wrath of time. When Muhammad ‘Ali rose to power in 1800s, the Ottoman conqueror erased all the mamluk architecture and the entire complex was reconstructed. The beautiful striped palace known as al-Qasr-al-Ablaq remained in fragments and the green domed mosque was spared his wrath.
What one sees today of the Citadel is the vision of the Muhammad ‘Ali. The mosque here even wears his name. Come here to see the history that unfolded and the marvels of architecture that have lasted the sands of time.