Cairo citadel opens another wing to public to attract more visitors

By Thomson Reuters Feb 18, 2024 | 10:38 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) – Cairo’s citadel, one of the Egyptian capital’s most prominent landmarks, opened another wing housing two semi-circular towers to the public on Sunday, to expand the country’s tourist attractions.

One of the world’s biggest mediaeval citadels, the Citadel of Cairo dates back to about 1176 A.D. when construction began under the Muslim military commander Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, who later went on to conquer Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 A.D.

The fortress, also known as the Saladin Citadel and which towers over Cairo, was the base of Egypt’s government for over 700 years.

The newly opened section was used until recently as a private events space and to house army and police barracks.

It includes the Ramla and Haddad (blacksmith) towers, built in the decades following Salah al-Din’s death by his successors Sultan Al-Adil Al-Ayyubi and Sultan Al-Nasser Saladin Al-Ayyubi.

Tourism minister Ahmed Eissa said opening the additional section to the public was part of a broad plan to improve tourism in Egypt that will be formally announced next month.

“I’m being told by travel agencies that the citadel visit doesn’t last more than an hour. Our plan in the coming months is to extend the time in which visitors tour the citadel from one hour to at least three,” he told reporters.

“This is the first effort we’re making to relaunch Cairo as a new cultural product which we will call ‘Cairo City Break’, with the details to be unveiled in the coming months,” Eissa added.

(Reporting by Sayed Sheasha; Writing by Patrick Werr; Editing by Susan Fenton)