Qaitbay Citadel has gained the reputation of being one of the Mediterranean Sea coast strongest defensive fortresses and the truest example on the might and allure of Alexandria. The citadel is highly famous for being built on top of the legendary lighthouse of Alexandria which was the third-longest surviving wonder in the ancient world until it’s unfortunate destruction between 956 and 1323 AD so you can believe that the citadel still carries the soul of the lighthouse in one way or another.
Qaitbay Citadel Location
It is located in the city of Alexandria on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island and extends out into Alexandria’s harbor from the corniche.
Qaitbay Citadel History
It was built in 1477 AD by a direct order from Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf Al-Din Qa’itbay to defend the country from the dangerous military advances of the Ottoman Empire. It was designed by a mameluke architect named Qagmas Al-Eshaqy and constructed within only two years.
It holds a unique position not only because of playing an unique role in the fortification system of the city during the 15th century AD but also it was constructed on the same location which held one of the seven wonders of the ancient world “The lighthouse of Alexandria” that was destroyed by a series by earthquakes in the 11th and 14th century AD and the limestone rocks of the lighthouse was used in construction the citadel.
The historical role of Qaitbay Citadel
The Citadel of Quitbay continued to play a crucial role in the Ottoman Empire as it was used as a powerful fortress to store and ship weapons in 1517 AD for the next three centuries. During the French campaign in 1798, the citadel caught the eye of Napoleon Bonaparte so he seized it with the entire country.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Muhammad Ali basha worked in renovating the walls of the citadel after it was heavily destroyed by the British naval bombardment and provided the stronghold with modern weapons which made the reign of Muhammed Ali the golden era of the citadel.
The Architecture of Qaitbay Citadel
Qaitbay Citadel was built using the stones salvaged from the huge lighthouse on an area of a squared shaped land that looks very much like a peninsula as it is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea from three sides.
It is 150m long and 130 m wide and has three floors; in the first floor there is a big mosque and the second is an octagon containing corridors, halls, and a breathing interior while the third and final floor is a large circular room holding the seat of the king. The most attractive chamber in the citadel is the edifice mason.