The Citadel of Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) is one of the most iconic monuments in Islamic Cairo, and among the most impressive defensive fortresses dating to the Middle Ages. Its strategic location on the Muqattam Hills gave it a formidable defensive position, and offered, as it still does today, an unrestricted panoramic view of Cairo.
Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi was the first to order the construction of a fortress over the Muqattam Hills (572–579 AH / 1176–1183 AD), but it was not completed during his lifetime. This was achieved during the reign of Sultan Kamel ibn al-Adel (604 AH/1207 AD) who decided to reside in it, making it the official residence of the rulers of Egypt. In the mid-nineteenth century, Khedive Ismail moved the official residence to ‘Abdeen Palace in downtown Cairo.
The Citadel acted as the backdrop to some of the most significant events in Egyptian history from the time it was built to the end of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, which was in power from the early nineteenth century until the 1952 revolution, when the modern Egyptian republic was born. Many monuments were added to the Citadel over the centuries, providing visitors today with an array of places to visit, such as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, which dominates the Citadel. Other places to visit include the mosque of the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun (built in 718 AH / 1318 AD), the Ottoman-era Sulayman Pasha al-Khadim Mosque (built 935 AH / c.1528 AD), as well as a number of museums such as the Police Museum, Al-Jawhara Palace Museum, the Royal Vehicle Museum, and the Military Museum.