Citadel of Qaitbey

Citadel of Qaitbey

Qaitbay Citadel in Alexandria is considered one of the most important defensive strongholds, not only in Egypt, but also along the Mediterranean Sea coast. It formulated an important part of the fortification system of Alexandria in the 15th century A.D.


The citadel is situated at the entrance of the eastern point of the pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. About 1480 A.D, the Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay fortified the place as part of his coastal defensive edifices against the Turks, who were threatening Egypt at that time. He built the castle and placed a Mosque inside it. The Citadel continued to function during most of the Mameluke period, the Ottoman period and the Modern period, but after the British bombardment of the city of Alexandria in 1883, it was kept out of the spotlight. It became neglected until the 20th century, when it was restored several times by the Egyptian Supreme Counsel of Antiquities.

The founder of the Citadel of Qaitbay is Sultan Al-Ashraf Abou Anasr Saif El-Din Qaitbay El-Jerkasy Al-Zahiry (1468-1496 A.D) who was born about 1423 A.D (826 H). He was a Mamluke who had come to Egypt as a young man, less than 20 years old. Bought by Al-Ashraf Bersbay, he remained among his attendants until Al-Ashraf Bersbay died. Then the Sultan Djaqmaq bought Qaitbay, and later gave him his freedom. Qaitbay then went on to occupy various posts. He became the Chief of the Army (Atabec Al-Askar) during the rule of the Sultan Tamar bugha. When the Sultan was dethroned, Qaitbay was appointed as a Sultan who was titled Almalek Al-Ashraf on Monday 26th Ragab, 872 H. (1468 A.D). He was one of the most important and prominent Mameluke Sultans, ruling for about 29 years. He was a brave king, who tried to initiate a new era with the Ottomans by exchanging embassies and gifts. He was fond of travel and made many prominent journeys. Qaitbay was so fond of art and architecture that he created an important post among the administrative system of the state; it was the Edifices Mason (Shady Al-Ama'er).
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