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The Citadel of Qaitbay

Exploring Qaitbay Citadel: A Historical Icon of Alexandria’s

Alexandria is where you can find the Citadel of Qaitbay. It is a monument, a great example of the past, and has beautiful architecture.

From far away, the Citadel of Qaitbay looks like a small sandcastle. However, a large fortress has become an important symbol of Alexandria.

A visit to the Citadel of Qaitbay, which is part of almost every tour in Alexandria, gives tourists a great view of the Mediterranean Sea.

Geographical Location of The citadel of Qaitbay

The citadel is at the western end of Alexandria, which was a good place because it kept the city safe from attacks by Crusaders and others starting in the 15th century.

One of its unique features is that it was built with parts of the old lighthouse, which was built in the third century AD and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

During the rule of the Mameluke Sultan Qalaun in Egypt in 1303, an earthquake almost destroyed the lighthouse.

All tourists who come to the city should tour the Qaitbay citadel. On some trips to Egypt, you can take a half-day or full-day tour to Alexandria from the Citadel of Qaitbay.

You can get there west from Corniche (or Costanera) Street. At the end of Corniche Street is where you can find it.

History of The citadel of Qaitbay

The Citadel of Qaitbay

In June 1477, Sultan Qaitbay went to Alexandria with several nobles, princes, and members of his royal family. He had just celebrated the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed with his people.

Alexandria was all set for the Sultan and his group to arrive. Qaitbay looked around where the old lighthouse ruins were and told his men to build a strong citadel there.

Construction started in 1477 and was done in 1479 when Qaitbay gave it its official name.

About Sultan Qaitbay

Sultan Qaitbay was an important Mamluk from Egypt’s Burji Dynasty who ruled for over 150 years.

Al-Ashraf Qaitbay ruled for more than 25 years, from 1468 to 1496. He was known as one of the essential builders during that time.

The madrasa (school), the temple for the dead in Cairo, and the mosque in Fayoum are among the monuments that have been kept.

No one ever thought the Qaitbay Citadel would become one of Egypt’s most popular tourist places.

The design and description of  The Citadel of Qaitbay

We can tell the difference between the walls on the inside and the ones on the outside. The rooms for the soldiers and the armories make up the short walls inside.

The outer walls comprise four defensive walls that keep any danger away from the citadel.

The Mediterranean Sea can be seen from the east side of the outer walls, two meters wide and eight meters high.

The west side of the walls is the widest and has three towers that look like sieves. This is part of the citadel that is the oldest.

The East Port of Alexandria is on the northern side of the fortress. This site is made up of two parts. The lower part is a covered passage with a few rooms used for tactical operations when the city is attacked.

The upper part comprises narrow passageway soldiers use to protect the citadel.

The walls inside were solid rock and almost surrounded the central tower, except on the north side.

The Central Tower of  The Citadel

The most impressive building in the complex is the central tower, which is square and 30 meters high, and 17 meters on each side.

It has three floors and four cylinder-shaped towers at the four corners of the main building. There are also some tiny windows in the right places so that archers can shoot arrows if attacked.

The Citadel of Qaitbay

The First Floor of  The Qitbay Citadel 

There is also a mosque on the first floor of the citadel. It was built in the Mameluke style, which was popular then.

It has four small galleries called “iwans,” an open courtyard with a sahn in the middle, a marble floor, and a beautifully decorated mihrab that strangely doesn’t face Mecca. This is because the architect who built the citadel wanted it to be helpful for the military. This mosque used to have a minaret, but it fell over time.

The second floor of the Qitbay Citadel

On the second floor of the citadel, there are several hallways, many small rooms and chambers, and a few large rooms used for different things. Because the Citadel of Qaitbay is one of Egypt’s most important buildings, many kings and rulers have paid attention to it over time.

Sultan El Ghory, the last Mamluk ruler of Egypt from the Burji dynasty, was one of the first to change the fortress (1501-1516).

He fixed up some parts, gave them weapons and soldiers, and fixed up some broken parts.

The critical rule of Qitbay Citadel throughout the ages

The Citadel of Qaitbay

During Ottoman rule, the citadel was seen as a significant stronghold to protect Egypt’s northern coasts.

At that time, the soldiers were given ranks and put into groups like infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

When the French invaded Egypt in 1798, they used the citadel as a base to take control of the whole country.

Mohamed Ali, the first ruler of modern Egypt, knew how important the citadel was when he took over. He fixed up the walls and added cannons to keep this critical spot in Egypt safe.

After the Revolution of Ahmed Orabi, the British Navy bombed the city of Alexandria, which led to cracks in the walls that stayed there for 25 years.

During the French occupation of Egypt in 1904, the Committee for the Preservation of Islamic Monuments did some repairs based on studies done by French scientists and academics.

The Citadel of Qaitbay is now one of the most well-known historical sites in Egypt and one of the most-visited places in Alexandria for tourists on tours.

About the author

Egypt Planners Team is a highly experienced travel agency specializing in memorable trips to Egypt. The team comprises expert travel planners and tour guides with a deep knowledge of Egypt's history, culture, and top tourist destinations.