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The Citadel of Cairo (Salah al-Din al-Ayobi's castle) at Egypt


Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi Citadel, at Cairo, is one of Cairo's landmarks of historical value that testifies to its strength and immunity, which is considered one of the most beautiful architectural models and one of the most famous tourist attractions for those who plan to experience tourism in Cairo. This castle, which opened in 1176, is characterized by many features such as its unique location on a hill It is tall and has a tall build.

Salah al-Din castle

Who is Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi?

His name: Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi is Youssef ibn Ayoub ibn Shadi ibn Marwan ibn Ali ibn Utrah ibn al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Ahmed ibn Abdul Aziz ibn Hadba ibn al-Husayn ibn al-Harith ibn Sinan ibn Omar ibn Murra ibn Awf al-Hamri al-Dawsi.

Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi was born in the year 532 AH / 1137 AD in the Citadel of Tikrit, which is an old town closer to Baghdad than to Mosul. At its highest end, a fortified castle has risen on the Tigris. The Persian kings built it from ancient times on a great stone, and they made it stores for ammunition, and an observatory to monitor the enemy. Then the Muslims inaugurated it in the sixteenth year of the Hijrah, during the days of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him.

He is the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, and the leader of the Islamic military campaigns against the Crusader states in the Levant. He was a Kurdish Muslim, and he was the first sultan of Syria and Egypt, and his authority extended to the Hijaz, upper Mesopotamia (Iraq) and some parts of western North Africa.

Salah al-Din al-Ayobi belongs to a Kurdish family of noble origin and great honor. This family belongs to a Kurdish tribe that is considered one of the nobles of the Kurds by lineage and clan. This clan is known as the Rawadiya, and it hails from the town of Duyin located at the last border of Azerbaijan near the city of Tbilisi in Armenia.

The title of Saladin Al-Ayyubi:

  • Al-Malik Al-Nasir
  • Al-Malik Al-Nasser Abu Al-Muzaffar
  • Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Salah al-Din and his uncle in the wars:

Salah al-Din was influenced by the courage of his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh, and learned from him to fight battles and lead men. Asad al-Din decided to share with his nephew, Salah al-Din, to be his assistant in this honorable mission, after he had told him the merits of the great heroes. Salah al-Din accompanied his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh in the campaigns that he carried out against the Fatimids in Egypt during the years 1164 AD, 1167 AD and 1168 AD, and these campaigns ended with Shirkuh assuming the position of the ministry during the reign of the Fatimid caliph "Al-Aadid".

Saladin and the Crusades:

Al-Ayyubi succeeded in turning the balance of military power in his favor, as he unified and disciplined a large number of forces. And when, in the year 1187 AD, he was able to throw his full force into the struggle with the Latin Crusader kingdoms, his armies were equal to them.

The great position that Salah al-Din achieved for himself in history came as a result of his firm stance against the Crusaders, and the major battle between Salah al-Din and the Crusaders was the Battle of Hattin Rabi` al-Akhar 583 AH / July 1187 AD, where Salah al-Din was able to defeat the Crusaders in a terrible defeat, and after that he liberated Jerusalem from hands of the Crusaders, and liberated many coastal cities.

History of the Citadel:

A few weeks before the construction of  this Citadel, and as soon as its location was determined, vizier Bahaa al-Din Qaraqosh al-Asadi, one of the viziers of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, accompanied his travellers, to pave it, and to demolish all the mosques and tombs that were on top of that plateau, then he ordered the carving of the rock To make an artificial trench that separates the Mokattam Mountain from the plateau that Salah al-Din chose tobuild his castle, which increased its strength and immunity.

Egypt during Ayyubid period :

Military architecture was the supreme expression of the Ayyubid period . The enduring legacy of Salah Al-Din had to be the fortification of Cairo and the building of the citadel. Salah al-Din had an ambitious plan to fortify al-Qahira together with the other capitals.

Salah al-Din's steps to secure and fortify Cairo:

  • he assigned his vizier Bahaa al-Din Qaraqush to restore the walls of alQahira(The first walls of the city were made of bricks, then destroyed and rebuilt of stone by Badr al-Gamali, and then restored by Bahaa al-Din Qaraqush ).
  • The east and west walls were rebuilt, the other walls were restored and fortified, and new gates were opened in the four walls.
  • The second mission was to unify the capitals of Egypt into one large complex.
  • He founded the citadel on the Muqattam hill to serve as a fortress and a as a residence for rulers and their garrisons.

The reason why Saladin chose the location of the castle?

And choosing the location of the castle is an interesting story, as 3 pieces of meat were used, each of which was placed in 3 different and separate locations, and the current location of the castle is the most of these locations in which the piece of meat remained for the longest possible period without spoiling, and thus it has combined the strategic location of the castle And environmental and health as well, according to the book "The Walls and Citadel of Saladin".

Castle doors:

The Citadel of Cairo has two doors; One of them is the greatest gate facing Cairo, and it is called: The Stepway Gate, and the second gate, the Qarafa Gate, faces the Mokattam Mountain. The castle had a third door, the secret door, which was concerned with the entry and exit of the senior princes and the elites of the state, such as the minister, the secret writer, and the like. Some of these doors were blocked and their use was invalidated to be replaced by new doors that were renewed during the era of Muhammad Ali Pasha.

Additions in the Citadel through ages :

Shajarat al-Durr: built the Hall of the Columns in the Southern enclosure for the harem and introduced a musical ceremony at the citadel.

Al-Zahir Baybars: built Bab Al-Qulla and a palace overlooking the horse market called Dar al-Gadida or Dar al-Thahab. He also built Dar al-‘Adl which was a throne hall where the sultan held councils and gave audiences.

Al-Ashraf Khalil: built a palace known as al-Ashrafiyya overlooking the city in addition to Burg al-Rafraf.

Sultan Hasan: built a domed palace called Baysariyya, attached to the private apartments.