Cairo Citadel Facts

Has your teacher asked you to find out about great historic sites in the world?

Are you doing a class project on Cairo Citadel?

Maybe you just want to beat your brother at general knowledge…

Whatever the reason, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve got 10 Cairo Citadel facts that will leave your history teacher gobsmacked! Here we go…

Cairo Citadel Facts for Kids

  • The Cairo Citadel was originally built in 1176. That means it’s medieval because the medieval period ran from the 5th to the 15th century.
  • Since 1976, it has been protected as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Cairo. UNESCO is a special department of the United Nations, which promotes world peace and cultural respect by protecting places of historical importance.
  • The Cairo Citadel is a religious place for Muslims, the people who belong to the Islamic faith. It contains mosques, which are places of worship – like churches are for Christians. In fact, there are three mosques inside: Alabaster Mosque; Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque; and the Mosque of Sulayman Pasha. Cairo was once the center of the Islamic world, meaning it was the most important city for Muslims everywhere.
  • The Citadel was made strong so that it could be used to defend the city against invaders. It was fortified between 1176 and 1183 to protect it from the Crusaders. The Crusaders were the Christian armies coming from Europe. The Citadel’s main defenses were its location on top of a hill, stone towers, and the great wall around it. During World War II, the British army was based there, and today, Egyptian soldiers still use it.
  • The Citadel actually joined the ancient city of Cairo with a nearby city called Ayyubid to protect both places from the Crusaders.
  • The Citadel’s location and design made it a safe place for Egyptian politicians and rulers. In fact, it was the Egyptian government’s base until the mid 19th century.
  • The Citadel is sometimes referred to as Muhammad Ali Citadel. This is because the Alabaster Mosque was built by Muhammad Ali Pasha who was the ruler of the country in the 1800s. The name might be familiar to you because Muhammad Ali was the name of a very famous American professional boxer who died in 2016.
  • Today, visitors to Cairo Citadel can explore the three museums inside. The Bijou Palace was originally built by Muhammad Ali Pasha. Inside is his official audience hall, the place where he would greet his guests. It contains his throne and a huge chandelier. In the Carriage Museum, you can see a collection of amazing royal carriages. There is also the Egyptian Military Museum, which has only been inside the Citadel since 1949.
  • It has been said that the Cairo Citadel has the best views in the city. From the terraces inside, you can see superb Cairo views. On a clear day, you can even see the Pyramids of Giza in the distance.
  • Despite the fortifications, in 1798 the Citadel was controlled by the French. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies invaded Egypt and Syria to protect their ability to trade in the region. This led to the discovery of the famous Rosetta Stone and the birth of Egyptology (the study of Ancient Egypt).


Question: The Citadel is important to which religion?
Answer: Islam / Muslims

Question: What was the name of the city it joined to Cairo?
Answer: Ayyubid.

Question: Who built the Alabaster Mosque?
Answer: Muhammad Ali Pasha.

Question: In what period was the Citadel built?
Answer: Medieval.

Question: In what year was it controlled by the French?
Answer: 1798.