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Salah El-Din Citadel picture in Cairo
Michelle McMahon / Getty Images

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  • Churches/Religious Sites, Museums, Sightseeing Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.2
Overall
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  • Value
    3.5
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

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You'll need to devote a whole day to the Salah El-Din Citadel, which is quite possibly the most popular non-pyramid attraction in Cairo. This massive fortress located in Islamic Cairo was constructed in the late 1100s by Salah al-Din, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty and an opponent of those involved in the Christian Crusades. Within its walls lies a trove of worthwhile attractions: The Mohamed Ali Mosque is the most visited site by far, but you should spend time exploring the other two mosques as well. The structure also houses several museums. Save some time for Gawhara Palace, which former Ottoman army commander Mohamed Ali built for his last wife.

While recent visitors praise the number of things to do here, most recommend taking some time to stop and enjoy the view. You can see much of Coptic Cairo and, on a clear day, the Pyramids of Giza from the fortress. Also, remember to cover up like you would when visiting other Islamic sites.

The Salah El-Din Citadel is located about 4 miles southeast of downtown Cairo in the southern part of Islamic Cairo. Parking in the area is hit or miss, so plan on taking a taxi or bus tour to the property. Several bus tours, including Love Egypt Tours and Memphis Tours, offer excursions to the area for roughly $100 per person. The site is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with reduced hours during Ramadan. Keep in mind that mosques in the citadel are closed on Fridays for the Islamic Sabbath. Admission to the Salah El-Din Citadel costs 60 Egyptian pounds (or $7) and includes entry to Gawhara Palace and all of the fortress' mosques and museums. Additional fees apply to use the property's restrooms and for drinks and snacks purchased on-site.

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#1 Islamic Cairo This sprawling neighborhood in eastern Cairo encompasses a labyrinth of twisting alleyways and a spattering of awe-inspiring architecture. The atmosphere here will take some getting used to: The streets are ... Read more » Luis Davilla / Getty Images

#2 Coptic Cairo (Old City) This neighborhood in southern Cairo is the oldest part of the city, with twisting alleyways and ancient churches that are several centuries older than the ornate mosques of Islamic Cairo ... Read more » JakezC / Getty Images

#3 Pyramids of Giza Cairo's most popular attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, draw thousands of visitors every year. As one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, these pyramids have stood the ... Read more » WitR / Getty Images

mfron / Getty Images

#5 Egyptian Museum The best way to follow up your trip to the pyramids is by visiting the Egyptian Museum. This massive facility contains more than 100,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt, including ... Read more » LUke1138 / Getty Images

#6 Salah El-Din Citadel You'll need to devote a whole day to the Salah El-Din Citadel, which is quite possibly the most popular non-pyramid attraction in Cairo. This massive fortress located in Islamic ... Read more » Michelle McMahon / Getty Images

#7 Saqqara Sandwiched between Giza and Dahshur in southern Cairo and surrounded by palm trees, this archaeological site houses the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt's oldest stone pyramid. The Step Pyramid ... Read more » Ferenc Wagner/EyeEM / Getty Images

#8 Khan el-Khalili For the best taste of Cairo's vibrant, chaotic personality, make a beeline to Khan el-Khalili. Overflowing into the narrow streets of Islamic Cairo, this bustling market serves as the ... Read more » bah69 / Getty Images

#9 Al Azhar Park Flanking the eastern edge of Islamic Cairo is Al Azhar Park, one of Cairo's largest parks. Formerly a garbage dump, Al Azhar Park now features an array of fountains ... Read more » efesenko / Getty Images

#10 Dahshur While the Pyramids of Giza steal most of the limelight, travelers looking to experience ancient Egypt without competing with crowds head to Dahshur. Located about 23 miles south of central ... Read more » Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

#11 Memphis First founded in A.D. 969, Cairo is considered a very young capital by Egyptian standards. Before the founding of Cairo, the ancient city of Memphis reigned supreme. Neighboring Saqqara ... Read more » Dimos_istock / Getty Images

Islamic Cairo picture in Cairo
Coptic Cairo (Old City) picture in Cairo
Pyramids of Giza picture in Cairo
Great Sphinx picture in Cairo
Egyptian Museum picture in Cairo
Salah El-Din Citadel picture in Cairo
Saqqara picture in Cairo
Khan el-Khalili picture in Cairo
Al Azhar Park picture in Cairo
Dahshur picture in Cairo
Memphis picture in Cairo
Islamic Cairo picture in Cairo
Coptic Cairo (Old City) picture in Cairo
Pyramids of Giza picture in Cairo
Great Sphinx picture in Cairo
Egyptian Museum picture in Cairo
Salah El-Din Citadel picture in Cairo
Saqqara picture in Cairo
Khan el-Khalili picture in Cairo
Al Azhar Park picture in Cairo
Dahshur picture in Cairo
Memphis picture in Cairo

Islamic Cairo is home to numerous religious sites, including the Mohamed Ali Mosque Mosque and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, both of which are located within the Salah El-Din Citadel. Luis Davilla / Getty Images

Elaborate tilework and stunning architecture await you in Coptic Cairo, where historic sites like the Hanging Church and the Babylon Fortress reside. JakezC / Getty Images

No Cairo attraction is more synonymous with Egypt than the Pyramids of Giza. WitR / Getty Images

Nestled within the Giza Plateau next to the Pyramids of Giza is the Great Sphinx, a part man, part lion statue made of limestone. mfron / Getty Images

Mummies, royal treasures and ancient Egyptian pottery are some of the items you'll find in the Egyptian Museum. LUke1138 / Getty Images

The Salah El-Din Citadel is home to several notable sites, including the Mohamed Ali Mosque and Gawhara Palace. Michelle McMahon / Getty Images

Saqqara's Step Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest stone pyramid in Egypt. Ferenc Wagner/EyeEM / Getty Images

Islamic Cairo's lively Khan el-Khalili bazaar is the place to go for souvenirs and spices. Just be prepared to haggle! bah69 / Getty Images

To escape the hustle and bustle of Cairo, head 3 miles east of the city center to Al Azhar Park. efesenko / Getty Images

One of the most recognizable pyramids in Dahshur is the Bent Pyramid, named for its curved shape. Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

One of Memphis' most recognizable sights is its sphinx, which is made of alabaster and once stood outside the Temple of Ptah. Dimos_istock / Getty Images

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