Islamic Cairo

The Citadel, Gayer-Anderson Museum and Khan il Khalili (STT117)

Today you will visit the Salah al Din Citadel and the Gayer-Anderson Museum in Islamic Cairo at the Bayt al Krittlaya. You will also enjoy a walk and lunch in Khan il Khalili, Cairo’s oldest souq.

Salah al Din Citadel
The Salah al Din (Saladin) Citadel (Al-Qal’A) of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification. The location, on Moqattam hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city. It is now a preserved historic site, with mosques and museums. Salah al Din, the founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt, came to power in 1169 AD as the result of a threatened attack by crusaders, and the Citadel was completed between 1176 and 1182. In the 19th century, during the Turkish period, the Citadel became the residence for the royal family. Muhammad Ali, the Turkish ruler, added a great alabaster mosque, built in the Istanbul style. As well as visiting the mosque and palace, you will enjoy spectacular views across the city from this high point. There are other museums on the site, they are not always open but ask your guide if you are interested. They include the Police National Museum, the Military Museum, the Carriage Museum and the Prison Museum.

The Citadel and tombs in Cairo, Egypt in the late 1800s.

The Citadel and tombs in Cairo, Egypt in the late 1800s. Photo taken by Antonio Beato.

Map of the Citadel

Map of the Citadel

Muhammad Ali Mosque (or the Alabaster Mosque)
The Mosque of Muhammad Ali was designed in the Ottoman style of Istanbul and is quite unrelated to the architectural tradition of Cairo. In the courtyard in front of the sanctuary there is a charming Turkish baroque ablution fountain (which makes an excellent photo opportunity). The gingerbread clock was given by Louis Philippe in 1846 as an exchange gift for the obelisk now in the Place de la Concorde, Paris.

Gayer Anderson interior

Gayer Anderson Museum interior

Gayer-Anderson Museum, also known as Bayt al Kritliyya
The Gayer-Anderson Museum takes its name from Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson Pasha, who resided in the house between 1935 and 1942 with special permission from the Egyptian Government. It is noted for being one of the best preserved examples of 17th century domestic architecture left in Cairo, and also for Gayer-Anderson’s vast collection of furniture, carpets, curio, and other objects. The Museum sits against the wall of arguably Cairo’s oldest mosque – Ibn Tulun.

The museum consists of two houses built using the outer wall of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun as support. The larger house, located to the east (the outermost side in relation to the mosque) was built in 1632 but later came into the possession of a wealthy Muslim woman from Crete, and the home became popularly known as Bayt al Kritliyya, or House of the Cretan Woman. The second house, to the west (the innermost side in relation to the mosque) was built in 1540 by Abdel-Qader al-Haddad. It later became known as Bayt Amna bint Salim, after its last owner. The two houses were joined by a bridge at the third floor level at an unknown point, and are both collectively known as Bayt al Kritliyya.

Gayer Anderson Museum interior

Gayer Anderson Museum interior

Khan il Khalili
As Gayer-Anderson is in Islamic Cairo, we take the opportunity to go for a walk in Khan il Khalili and get some traditional Egyptian food for lunch – maybe savouary Egyptian pancakes, or kosheri.

Our tour will start at 8.30 am when you leave your accommodation and we’ll have you back safe and sound around 9 hours later. Hotel pick-up may be a little earlier than this but the time will be given to you on reconfirmation.

The tour operates daily at all times of the year.

All transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
Entrance fees to sites visited
Registered tour guide (who speaks your own language or English) who will assist you in making the most of your tour

Food and drink unless specified
Tips (recommended)
Your shopping
Any activity costs not mentioned in our programme

Things to note:
– Sunscreen, a hat and water are important, even though you will be indoors some of the time. Most of our drivers have cold water on board that you can purchase at a small price.
– To visit the mosques you need to wear clothing that covers the shoulders, upper arms and legs. Your guide will remind you that you must take your shoes off. If you choose to carry them you must not let the soles touch the floor.
– There are souvenir salesmen at many sites, be polite but firm if you are not interested in purchasing. Bazaar owners can also be persistent. Ask your guide for assistance if necessary.
– If required, wheelchair accessibility should be discussed when booking.
– Don’t forget your camera and maybe a spare battery or card – there’s lots of photo opportunities.
– We’d really like your feedback so please let us know what you think of all aspects of your tour. You can find us on TripAdvisor at

1 person – US$100 per person
2 – 4 people – US$64 per person
5 – 8 people – US$42 per person
9 – 15 people – US$37 per person
Request a quote for 16+ people
Reduced costs for children 4-12, children 3 and under free

If you wish to book this tour please quote STT117. You may contact us by email at or phone +2017 333 8800.

Mosque of Muhammad Ali with tourists listening to their guide

Mosque of Muhammad Ali with tourists listening to their guide


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