Citadel of Cairo, Qesm Al Khalifah, Cairo, Egypt 

Sprawling over a limestone spur on the city’s eastern edge, the Citadel, started by Saladin in 1176 as a fortification against the Crusaders, was home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years. Their legacy is a collection of three very different mosques, several palaces and a couple of terraces with superb Cairo views – on a clear day you’ll see Giza’s Pyramids poking up in the far distance.

Following their overthrow of Saladin’s Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks enlarged the complex, adding sumptuous palaces and harems. Under the Ottomans the fortress expanded westward and a new main gate, the Bab Al Azab, was added, while the Mamluk palaces deteriorated. Even so, when Napoleon’s French expedition took control in 1798, the emperor’s savants regarded these buildings as some of the finest Islamic monuments in Cairo.

Epic Egypt Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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