The Citadel of Qaitbay is one of the famous Alexandrian monuments. The Mamluks erected it in the 15th century.
Location of the Citadel of Qaitbay
History of the Qaitbay Citadel
The Egyptians completed the construction of the fortress in 1477. The founder of this fort was Sultan Abu Al-Nasr Sayf ad-Din Al-Ashraf Qaitbay. Historians believe Qaitbay had built this fortress on the Alexandria Lighthouse – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. These historians affirm that the Alexandria Lighthouse exited on the same site. They used the remaining parts of the lighthouse itself to build this citadel.
The fortress of Qaitbay was a vital and irreplaceable part of the outpost in the Mediterranean Sea. There were many trials to capture or destroy it. When the fort existed, rulers completed it more than once and restored it. When the Ottomans powerfully settled in Egypt, they used Qaitbay for its intended purpose, like all other fortresses. However, when Turkey became weaker, the citadel completely lost its immediate sense – military. Thus, Napoleon and his army, who invaded Alexandria in 1798, quickly conquered it.
Later, in 1805, when Pasha Muhammad Ali began to rule in Egypt, he completely restored the fortress of Qaitbay. Also, he filled it with new and modern weapons, including coastal artillery. Indeed, the arrival of Muhammad Ali is a “golden era” for that citadel.
Later in 1879-1882, the British troops occupied the fortress. These troops significantly damaged it. Further, it remained on this condition until 1904.
With the start of king Farouk’s reign in 1904, some innovations took place in this building. The King wanted to develop the citadel to become a great recreation centre.
During the onset of the revolution in 1952, the fortress passed into the hands of the Maritime Museum. Since 1984, the government has carried out significant and large-scale restoration in Qaitbay.
The Structure of Citadel of Qaitbay
The Citadel of Qaitbay is a structure consisting of walls in two rows connected by passages; above them, there are towers in the shape of a circle.
You can find military barracks rooms that stockpiled weapons if you go inside. Also, you will see the cells for prisoners, openings for protection, and embrasures for guns. This fortress has tunnels at its lowest part. You can visit where armed soldiers took shelter when you go through the tunnels. Further, you can go through them to the central tower of the building. The fortifications lie one floor above, while the Sultan’s throne is third. When you get out to the observation deck, you can see the sea from an unlimited heap of sand. Also, you will see the Mediterranean Sea at a distance, which thoroughly washes the majestic Alexandria. Seeing all this bewitching sight makes you realise how the whole place steeps in history.
There is a museum in the fort of Qaitbay itself where things from many eras. There are things from the reigns of Napoleon and the times of the Ottoman and Roman empires.
Activities Near the Citadel
The washing waters of the sea can delight people who love diving. Of course, it will be interesting for everyone who wants to see incredible archaeological finds. Archaeologists found, in the seabed, sculptures of sphinxes, statues, columns, and many other objects in different periods. In the nearby museum, you can see the skeleton of a 17-meters whale. They caught it before near Cairo. There are also incredible marine inhabitants and inhabitants of the Nile River in the aquariums. Close to the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Royal Egyptian Jewellery Museum exists, a fish market and a souvenir market.