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Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

Qaitbay fort in Alexandria it considered to be one of the most important defensive strongholds not only in Egypt, but  along the Mediterranean Sea coast. 

Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

Qaitbay Fort

  • Sultan Qaitbay was a Mameluke, who had come to Egypt as a young man, he was less than 20 years old, he was one of the most important and prominent Sultans, who ruled Egypt for about 29 years, he had an honorable history in ruling Egypt, as he was known to be very fair man.
Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

  • Sultan Qaitbey built it during the 14th century, to defend Alexandria from the advances of the Ottoman Empire, which began to change the direction of its conquests from Europe to the Islamic East, so Sultan Qaytbay tried to fortify the Egyptian fronts, Qaitbay Fort in Alexandria considered to be an important part of the fortification system of Alexandria in the 15th century A.D, It situated at the entrance of the eastern harbor of Alexandria.

History of the citadel

  • Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaitbay began building this castle in the year 882 AH, and completed its construction in 884 AH, The Citadel continued to function during  the Mameluke period, the Ottoman period, and the Modern period, but after the British bombardment of Alexandria in 1882, it was kept out of the spotlight, as It became neglected until the 20th century, then it was restored several times by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Description of the citadel

  • It is one of the castles that have remained until today, as a witness to the strength of Islamic civilizationit wast built on an area of 17,550 square meters, it is surrounded by the sea from three sides, and surrounded by two walls, one inside and the other outside, in the space between the two walls there were rooms built, to be barracks for soldiers, while around the citadel there is a large nave where the soldiers were trained in combat matters in it.

Castle consists of three square floors

  • In the four corners of the castle there are semi-circular towers that end with prominent balconies, in these towers there are slots for shooting arrows, at the top of the entrance, there is an opening that was called Oil pawl, the use of this opening was for a defensive purpose, if an attack occurred on the fortress, soldiers poured boiling oil from this hidden hole on any attacker.

Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

  • Qaitbay fort was built in the same location of the lighthouse, Which collapsed in  702 A.H, after a devastating earthquake, it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and by some of ancient lighthouse stones,they used its stone in the construction of the citadelWhat is interesting that the lighthouse itself was built by some ruins of ancient Pharaonic cities such as Memphis and Thebes, in the entrance, there are pink granite stones from the remains of the stones used in Alexandria's lighthouse.

Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

  • There is a huge door made of wood and brass.

First floor of the citadel


  • It has an area of 30 square meters, this mosque is the second oldest mosque in Alexandria, which consists of a courtyard, and defensive corridors that allow soldiers, to pass easily during the defence operations of the castle

  • There are two rooms attached to the mosque, one for storing mosque furniture, and the other for the Imam to use for a break between prayers, It contains the longest dome of a mosque, which is right in the middle, in addition to a minaret, but it collapsed recently, The floor of the mosque is made from white and black Alabaster, while it was decorated with beautiful geometric mosaics, the mosque here was not used for praying only, it was used also to teach the soldiers who were residing in it, as there are four places inside the mosque for that  (it was called iwan).

Qaitbay fort in Alexandria

  • Here the architectural genius appears, as palm tree trunks were used in the construction between the limestone, the purpose from that was that the palm trees were acting as shock absorbers in the event of an earthquake happened, and they also absorbed salt and moisture from the stones, especially that the sea is adjacent to the castle.
  • As well as a mill to grind grain for the soldiers who residing in the castle.

Second Floor

  • A large hall used by army leaders for meetings, and making military plans.

Third Floor 

  • It includes a large room which known as (the seat of Sultan Qaitbay) in which he sits to see the training  of the soldiers in the courtyard, in addition an oven for preparing bread, on this floor there are 28 rooms, the rooms which were overlooking courtyard, it were used for sleeping, while rooms overlooking sea side, it were used for guarding.

The Cistern

  • The castle has a huge cistern to store fresh water for the use of the soldiers who were resided in the castle, It was cleaned every three months.
  • Qaitbay citadel in Alexandria is usually crowded with a pleasant crowd enjoying the sea views.

Entrance fee

  • 60 LE for foreigners, 30 LE for foreigners student.
  • 20 LE for Egyptian, 5 LE for an Egyptian student.


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Asmaa Ahmed

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