Scotsabroad's Weblog

April 10, 2010

The Citadel

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 6:10 pm

Successful today getting to the Citadel. We managed to park under a flyover just off Salah Salem street and hoped the car would not get clamped or damaged. Incredible to think that the site does not allow anyone with their own car access to the Citadel car park. This seems to be exclusively for tour buses, taxis, limousines and minibuses containing foreign tourists. We walked to the entrance along with hundreds of Egyptian students and their teachers. Don’t know where their buses had to park. Huge crowds at the entrance did not bode well for a pleasant visit but we got in quickly enough.

The foreign tourists were directed straight to the Mosque of Muhammad Ali and nothing else it seemed. The colourful children headed for the National Military Museum and the Northern Enclosure. This was where the boys wanted to go with Gordon and the area filled up with hundreds, if not thousands, of brightly coloured, exuberant children being kept in order by harassed teachers and assistants, blowing whistles and shouting, to feel in control.

While they jostled inside the museum, Shona and I found tranquility just around the corner. Walking along the side of the building we found ourselves alone in a large open area with beautiful gardens. A quick visit to the carriage museum was interesting but the area outside was reward enough. That was, until, we were invited in to the Mosque of Sulyman Pasha. Having separated, I only knew Shona was in the mosque by recognising her sandals on the entrance steps. The mosque dates from 1528 but the painted designs and patterns were splendid. A miniature courtyard had all the traditional features. However, the guide unlocked a door that led to Mamluk family tombs and one of an important sheikh. Again the walls are painted in beautiful faded colours but it is the Ottoman tombs that are the most interesting, displaying different turbans for male and female members. A rather drab pyramid-shaped tomb, we were led to believe, contained thirty out of the 480 Mamluks slaughtered by Muhammad Ali in 1811 inside the Citadel. In such a huge tourist site and with thousands of people just around the corner, this was one of those memorable experiences. We headed back to the crowds, visited the big mosque briefly and what was left of (and accessible without tips) of the Gawhara Palace. The air pollution was horrendous today but the trip itself turned out to be special.


1 Comment »

  1. what a jammy pair you are to find peace and an uncle!!!! amongst the hubub of a visit to downtown Cairo

    Comment by ianandlinda — April 11, 2010 @ 6:43 am | Reply

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