The citadel was intended to instill fear and seriousness in Crusaders who would be intimidated by violating the city's tranquility. Today it is awe-inspiring, mainly due to the magnificent Alabaster mosque, whose minarets glisten in the sun.
The mighty walls that surround the palaces and mosques within the Cairo Citadel are visible from afar. The defensive structure was erected on the Mokattan/Al Muqattam hill by order of Sultan Saladin in 1176. Materials from pharaonic buildings were used for its construction, which was a regular practice in the Middle Ages. Successive rulers of Egypt also took a liking to this place, making the citadel their seat for 700 years.
The entrance to the Cairo citadel is now through the south gate and the 12th-century defensive walls here are 10 meters high. Another gate, called Bab al Azab, located in the southwestern part of the walls, was witness to one of the most interesting political coups in the history of Egypt. In 1811, a feast was held in the building just outside the gate, at which the then ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali (1805-1849), invited around 500 Mamluk leaders and dignitaries. After the party was over, he ordered them all to be murdered. It was thanks to this that he gained full power in the country.