The Citadel is a medieval fortress located in Cairo Egypt. It has been in existence since the year 810. In it's first century of life it wasn't used as a fortress it was simply a palace that looked out on Cairo. But it is located in an excellent strategic location and in subsequent centuries it was improved, made larger, made stronger and built up to be quite an impressive fortress. It has many of the definining characteristics that would in subsequent centuries be learned from European crusaders and taken back to Europe. Things such as the stone walls with parapets, round towers and much more. Many of the fortress building techniques first devised in the Middle East were taken back to Europe to build Castles and Fortresses.
This fortress changed and was added to over the centuries and I have an interesting picture of the floor plan that shows this growth and development.
The picture shows part of the outer wall of the Citadel with round tower. The building in the background on the left is the Suleyman Pasha Mosque and the Muhammad Ali Mosque which are located within the walls of the Citadel. The Pasha mosque was built in 1528. and the Ali Mosque between 1828 and 1848.
It was transformed from a pavilion to a military base of operations by Saladin between the years of 1176 and 1183. Saladin used the most modern techniques of fortress building available to him at the time and at some points the walls are thirty feet high and ten feet thick. You can see this in the following picture of a portion of the outer wall.
But a significant thing about this fortress wall building was the advanced technique of rounded sections and rounded towers that protruded from the wall. This allowed archers excellent access to fire at enemies along the wall. And the round shape made it more difficult for various siege engines to destroy corners. You can see these rounded wall shapes in the picture below. From the top of these towers it was very easy to shoot at anyone trying to scale the wall at any point.
Another very important aspect of the contruction of this fortress is the concept of concentric or inner and outer walls. There is an outer wall showin in the pictures above then there is space within the compound and then another series of walls that encloses yet more secure sections inside. Part of this is by design in the case of this fortress and part of this is simply caused by the addition of new sections and the making of the fortress larger over the centuries. If you want to know more about the concept of concentric walls in fortress and castle building I have more information including drawings here: The concept of Concentric walls in castle building .
I also have an interesting article that shows you how these types of castle walls were built
Here is a picture inside one of the sections of the citadel. We are within two sets of walls and you can see there is yet another set of walls surrounding the mosque. The Citadel is one of the most visited attractions in Cairo and it is the most non pharoah attraction visited.
Here is one of the gatehouses.
Here is an interesting addition to the Citadel. Just outside the main entrance gate they have a magnificent trebuchet on display. This is a very old trebuchet and the swing arm is approximately 18 feet in length. Trebuchet's were the worst nightmare of a medieval castle. They could hurl projectiles and break through stone walls.
If you are interested in making trebuchets or catapults on my other website I have all kinds of information, tutorials and instructions on how to make them: How to Make a Trebuchet
I ended up building a scale copy of this trebuchet. Well, it's not an exact duplicate. But it is about the same size. You can see that Trebuchet right here, and watch a video of me firing boulders with it: The Very Big Trebuchet
My Adventure in Egypt and my Trip to the Citadel
I recently took a trip to egypt and took some video footage inside the Citadel