Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

It’s almost been a month since I started my ‘Moment of the Day’ series on Facebook: here’s your fourth weekly recap. Go ahead and ‘like’ me on Facebook if you think you’d enjoy a daily dose. I’m thinking of totting up the ‘like’ clicks that each image gets and announcing a ‘Moment of the Month’ and a ‘Moment of the Year’. Go ahead and show your preferences using that oh-so-loveable ‘like’ button!

I’m still in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, so this week’s images are once again drawn from my meanderings around this city. A little something I observed here, something else I spotted there. Some things quirky, other things ordinary. Often moments we miss as we go about our lives, minds on other things. Enjoy, and please feel free to share further with your own network using the buttons at the top, right and bottom of the page.

 

20110708 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110709 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110710 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110711 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110712 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110713 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

20110714 Moments of the Week – 8th to 14th July 2011

 

The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

 

Situated on Mokattam Hill near Central Cairo, the historic Saladin Citadel is a medieval Islamic fortification whose site now contains protected mosques and museums, as well as a military garrison (which, indeed, it has always had ever since construction). It gets its name from the Ayyubid ruler Salah ad-Din (‘Saladin’), who fortified it between 1171 and 1193 AD to protect it from attacks by Crusaders. He is said to have stated that “with a wall, I will make the two [cities of Cairo and Fustat] into a unique whole, so that one army may defend them both; and I believe it is good to encircle them with a single wall from the bank of the Nile to the bank of the Nile”. The Citadel became the centrepiece of this wall, and remained the heart of Egyptian government until the 19th Century.

While the Citadel now houses important museums (the al-Gawhara Palace Museum, Carriage Museum, National Military Museum and Police Museum), the photo essay I’ve prepared focuses primarily on its imposing and beautiful mosques, especially the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. To read this photo essay, click on the image below. If you’d like to leave a comment about this photo essay, you are more than welcome to do so on this page (there’s no facility for this in the photo essay section): just scroll to the bottom.

the saladin citadel of cairo link The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

CLICK THE IMAGE to go to the photo essay.

 

The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Situated on Mokattam Hill near Central Cairo, the historic Saladin Citadel is a medieval Islamic fortification whose site now contains protected mosques and museums, as well as a military garrison (which, indeed, it has always had ever since construction). It gets its name from the Ayyubid ruler Salah ad-Din (‘Saladin’), who fortified it between 1171 and 1193 AD to protect it from attacks by Crusaders. He is said to have stated that “with a wall, I will make the two [cities of Cairo and Fustat] into a unique whole, so that one army may defend them both; and I believe it is good to encircle them with a single wall from the bank of the Nile to the bank of the Nile”. The Citadel became the centrepiece of this wall, and remained the heart of Egyptian government until the 19th Century.

While the Citadel now houses important museums (the al-Gawhara Palace Museum, Carriage Museum, National Military Museum and Police Museum), this photo essay focuses primarily on its imposing and beautiful mosques, especially the Mosque of Muhammad Ali.

All the images below, along with others from the same series, may be purchased as beautiful colour prints, licensed for download or shared via social media platforms. To view them, just click on the ‘Buy | Share’ link at the end of any of the captions, which will take you to the gallery entitled ‘The Saladin Citadel of Cairo’ in my Image Archive.

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic cupolas mosque of muhammad ali 2 The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

One of the world’s most significant as well as beautiful monuments to medieval warfare, Cairo’s Citadel is a particularly visible landmark on the city’s eastern skyline. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is its most striking feature, dominating the Southern Enclosure. It was built between 1828 and 1848 during the Ottoman period in memory of Tusun Pasha, ruler Muhammad Ali’s oldest son, who died in 1816. More than a memorial, however, it also stands as a bold attempt by Muhammad Ali to replace symbols of the Mamluk dynasty that he took over from and assert his importance. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic cupolas mosque of muhammad ali 9 The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali replaced the Mosque of al-Nasir, also in the Citadel, as the official state mosque. It stands in place of Mamluk palaces that used to exist inside the Citadel. Taking a distinctly Ottoman style, it imitates the great mosques of Istanbul. However, Muhammad Ali built it in violation of Ottoman law that prohibited anyone but the sultan from erecting a mosque with more than one minaret (his has two). This act stood as one of his first indications to Istanbul that he did not intend to remain submissive to the empire’s capital. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali columns archway sky The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

According to popular legend, Salah ad-Din chose this site for its healthy air. He was said to have hung up pieces of meat all over Cairo. While everywhere else the meat went bad within a day, at the Citadel area it remained fresh for several days. Strolling past these archways on the outer walls of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali today, one can certainly enjoy a pleasant breeze. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali columns archway woman The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

An Egyptian tourist takes a moment to enjoy the shade of an archway. These days, Cairo’s Citadel is one of the country’s premier tourist attractions, and often proves visitors’ most popular non-pharaonic monument. It it also close to quite a few other impressive Islamic sights, and a pleasant walk away from the bazaar area of Khan el-Khalili. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel view of city giza pyramids travel tourism The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Built on a spur of limestone that was long ago detached from its parent Mokattam Hills by quarrying, the Citadel awards visitors with commanding views over Cairo. From this position, it’s possible to see the Giza Pyramids (which I featured in this photo essay) clearly on the outskirts of the city. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali attendants muslim women grandmother mother child The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Left: Two attendants enjoy a chat during a quiet time at the entrance to the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Right: Three generations come to visit. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali man reading quran religious scholar The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Though very much tourist attractions, the mosques of the Citadel are still working places of worship. Left: A man finds some peace, alone with his Qu’ran. Right: A religious scholar makes some notes. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali cupolas underneath The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Outdoors, the magnificent cupolas (domes) of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali (shown in the first two images at the top) can be seen from many parts of Cairo. Inside, they reveal an altogether different and distinctly fascinating view of ornate decoration. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali columns books The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Left: Columns surrounding the courtyard at the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Right: A student’s books await his return from prayer. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali line of columns 2 The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Row of columns lining the courtyard. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali ladder wall 3 The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

A maintenance worker’s ladder by the mosque’s marble outer walls. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic mosque of muhammad ali view of sultan hassan and al rifai mosques al nasir muhammad mosque inside The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Left: From the Mosque of Muhammad Ali’s courtyard, the visitor can get a clear view over two more magnificent Old Cairo mosques, the Mosque of Sultan Hassan (left) and al-Rifai Mosque (right). Right: The other mosque in the Citadel complex is the Mosque of al-Nasir. As a typical Mamluk work of art, its masonry is beautifully crafted, its minarets are ornate but controlled and overall, the proportions here are elegant. When the Ottomans conquered, they took much of the original interior decoration back to Istanbul. The irony is that the supporting columns that can be seen around the courtyard in the image above were collected from sources that included ancient Egyptian structures. Buy | Share

 

egypt old cairo mokattam hill saladin citadel travel tourism historic al nasir muhammad mosque family leaving 2 The Saladin Citadel of Cairo

Enjoying a day out, a family of Egyptian tourists leaves the Mosque of al-Nasir. Buy | Share

Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

Welcome to the third in my news series of weekly recaps on my moments of the day. If you’re a fan of me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you can see each Moment of the Day, one by one, as I post them daily. This week’s images are once again drawn from my movements around and about Cairo, each one being just a brief moment that I observed, captured, savoured and am now sharing with you. Enjoy, and please feel free to share further with your own network using the buttons at the top, right and bottom of the page.

 

20110701 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110702 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110703 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110704 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110705 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110706 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011

 

20110707 Moments of the Week – 1st to 7th July 2011