The Qaitbay Citadel: Alexandria’s defense fortress

Nii Martey M. Botchway

Accra, Nov 10, GNA – The Qaitbay Citadel is one of Africa’s World Heritage Sites and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Alexandria, Egypt.

The 15th-century defensive fortress which is situated on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island at the mouth of the Eastern Harbour, served as Alexandria’s defence against naval attacks and played a vital role in the defence of Alexandria during the Ottoman siege of 1517.

Considered one of the most important castles in the Mediterranean, the square-shaped three-floor castle is a large, imposing historical site with high walls and numerous towers, with a 150-meter area surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea from each side that spans an area of about two hectares.
The first floor of the citadel contains a mosque and defence hall that allowed soldiers to pass easily and defend the walls during wars in the past, with the second and third floors containing chambers and halls, and a huge throne chamber where Qaitbay sultan used to watch the sailing ships towards Alexandria shores respectively.

Despite giving up its military functions long ago, the Qaitbay Citadel which was built from 1477 to 1479 AD by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay on an existing foundation of the Legendary Pharos Lighthouse, had fallen into ruins by the 14th Century due to repeated damage by earthquakes, houses a small naval museum that gives tourists an imagination of the huge structure that once stood on that foundation.