information about Qaitbay Fort Alexandria

Qaitbay Fort Alexandria EgyptQaitbay Fort Alexandria indeed is one of the most important defensive strongholds. It is not only in Egypt, but also along the Mediterranean Sea coast. Moreover, it formulated an important part of the fortification system of Alexandria. It was in the 15th century AC. Qaitbay Fort Alexandria situated at the entrance of the eastern harbor on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. Alexandria Lighthouse was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest. Several disasters occurred and the shape of the lighthouse changed to some extent. But it still continued to function.

Restoration began in the period of Ahmed Ibn Tulun in 880 H . During the 11th century an earthquake occurred, causing damage to the octagonal part. The bottom survived, but it could only serve as a watchtower. A small Mosque built on the top. In the 14th century there was a destructive earthquake. The whole building completely destroyed. Sultan Al Ashraf Qaitbay fortified the place as part of his coastal defensive edifices. It was against the Turks, who were threatening Egypt in 1480 AC. He built the castle and placed a mosque inside it. Qaitbay Fort Alexandria functioned during most of the Mameluke period, Ottoman period and Modern period. After the British bombardment of the city of Alexandria in 1883, it kept out of the spotlight.

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Qaitbay Fort Alexandria EgyptQaitbay Fort Alexandria became neglected until the 20th century. It restored several times by the Egyptian Supreme Counsel of Antiquities. The founder of Qaitbay Fort Alexandria is Sultan Al-Ashraf Abou Anasr Saif El Din Qaitbay. He reigned Egypt from 1468-1496 AC. He born about 1423 AC. Moreover,he was a Mamluke, less than 20 years When he came to Egypt. He bought by Sultan Al Ashraf Barsbay. He remained among his attendants until Al Ashraf Barsbay 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 during the rule of the Sultan Tamar bugha.

When the Sultan dethroned, Qaitbay appointed as a Sultan. He titled Almalek Al-Ashraf on Monday 26th Ragab, 872 H. (1468 AC). He was one of the most important and prominent Mameluke Sultans, ruling for about 29 years. In fact, he was a brave king. He tried to start a new era with the Ottomans by exchanging embassies and gifts. He was fond of travel. In fact, he made many prominent journeys. Qaitbay was so fond of art and architecture. He created an important post among the administrative system of the state. It was the Edifices Mason (Shady Al-Ama’er). He built many beneficial constructions in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. In Egypt, there are about 70 renovated edifices. All of them attributed to him.

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Qaitbay Fort Alexandria EgyptAmong them are Mosques, Madrasas, Agencies and Fountain houses (Sabils). They also include Kuttabs, houses and military edifices. The military edifices are like the Citadels in Alexandria and Rosetta. Nowadays Rosetta is the city of Rashid). They built to protect the north of Egypt, against the Ottomans. Ottoman power was increasing in the Mediterranean. Qagmas Al-Eshaqy, The Edifices Mason, was the architect of the Qaitbay Fort Alexandria. Before his arrival in Egypt he was a Mameluke of Djakmaq in Syria. During the rule of Qaitbay he became the edifices mason, and then the Viceroy of Alexandria. He appointed governor of Syria (Damascus).

In fact, he built a mosque outside the gate of Rashid (Bab Rashid). He also did a Cenotaph and a Khan. He also renovated the mosque of El Sawary outside the gate of Sadrah (Bab Sadrah). Qagmas was intelligent and modest. He also was the overseer of many constructions during the time of Qaitbay. In 1477 AC, Sultan Qaitbay visited the site of the old lighthouse in Alexandria. He ordered a fortress to built on its foundations. The construction lasted about 2 years. It said that Qaitbay spent more than a hundred thousand Dinars for the work on Qaitbay Fort Alexandria. Ibn Ayas mentioned that building of this fort started in Rabi Alawal 882 H.

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Qaitbay Fort Alexandria EgyptHe stated Sultan Qaitbay traveled to Alexandria, accompanied with some other Mameluke princes. It was to visit the site of the old lighthouse. During this visit he ordered the building of Qaitbay Fort Alexandria. In Shaban 884 H, the Sultan Qaitbay traveled again to Alexandria. It was when the construction finished. He provided the fort with a brave legion of soldiers and various weapons. He also dedicated several waqfs from which he financed the construction works. It was besides the salaries of the soldiers. Qaitbay Fort well maintained by all the rulers who came after Qaitbay. It was due to its strategic location. Sultan Qansoh El Ghoury gave Qaitbay Fort Alexandria special attention. He visited it several times and increased the strength of the garrison.

He provided it with various weapons and equipment. It included a large prison made for the princes and the state-men. These whom Sultan kept away from his favor for some reason. In the episodes of the year 920 H, the Sultan El Ghoury traveled to Alexandria with other princes. They watched some man-oeuvres and military training on the defensive weapons in the fort. He issued a military decree to forbid weapons from taking out of Qaitbay Fort Alexandria. It was when he felt the approach of the Ottoman threat. Death penalty would be the punishment to those who try to steal anything from Qaitbay Fort. He ordered the inscription of this decree on a marble slate fixed to the door leading the court.

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Qaitbay Fort Alexandria EgyptIt says: ” Bism Ellah El-Rahman El-Rahim”. A decree by the order of our master, the noble rank, King Al Ashraf Abou El Naser Qansoh El Ghoury. May God eternalize his reign. No body should take Makahel weapon, gun powder or tools. No body should anything from the noble tower in Alexandria. Any one of the tower party breaks this (decree) will hanged at the tower gate. And will deserve the curse of God. Whether he is Mameluke, Slaves or Zarad Kashia”. Dated Rabei Alawal 907 H.

After the Ottoman Turks had conquered Egypt, they cared for this unique Qaitbay Fort. They used it for shelter, as they had done with the Citadel of Saladin in Cairo. Moreover, they also did for the Citadels of Damieta, Rosetta, Al Borollos and El Arish. They kept it in good condition and stationed it with infantry and artillery. They also did with company of drummers. and trumpeters, masons and carpenters. When Ottoman military became weak, the Qaitbay Fort began to lose its military importance. In 1798 AC, during the French expedition of Egypt, it fell into the hands of the French troops. It was because of the weakness of the Qaitbay Fort garrison and the power of the French modern weapons. Inside Qaitbay Fort Alexandria, the French found some crusader weapons.

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They dated back to the campaign of Louis IX. Maybe it was a spoil after the battle and capture of El-Mansoura!. When Mohammad Ali became the ruler of Egypt in 1805, he renovated the old Citadel. He restored and repaired its outer ramparts. He provided the stronghold with the most modern weapons of the period. They were particularly the littoral cannons. In fact, the reign of Mohamed Ali indeed was another golden era for Qaitbay Fort Alexandria. Qaitbay Fort Alexandria retained the interest of Mohammed Ali’s successors until the year 1882. In this year Orabi revolution took place.

British fleet bombarded Alexandria on 11 July 1882. They damaged a large part of Alexandria, especially in the area of Qaitbay Fort. This attack cracked the fortress, causing great damage. The north and western facades damaged as a result of cannon explosions. The western facade completely destroyed and left large gaps in it. Qaitbay Fort then remained neglected until 1904. In this year, the Ministry of Defense restored the Upper floors. King Farouk wanted to turn Qaitbay Fort into a royal Rest house so he ordered a rapid renovation on it.

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