Sultan Qaitbay stood nagging on the shore of Alexandria.He didn't like the way that wretched city has become. Although it was the northern gate of guarded Egypt, it had no wall or fortress to protect it since the earthquakes in the Mediterranean coast, which destroyed the forts of Alexandria , its walls and the lighthouse on varus island.
"Who protects Egypt from the Invaders of the north? Ottomans in the east and Europeans in the west".. that is what Sultan Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Naser Qaitbay said. In the summer of 1477 he stood on the shore of Alexandria, looking at the ruins of its forts, the city has been hit by the worst tremors. It began in 1303 under the reign of Sultan Al-Naser Muhammad Ibn Qalawun and led to the destruction of one of the most important landmarks of Alexandria and indeed one of the seven wonders of the world,the lighthouse of Alexandria.
The Mameluke Sultan Qaitbay built a fort to protect the city in the same location of the lighthouse, now known as Qaitbay Citadel, on an area of 17550 square meters,surrounded by a group of walls built specifically to further fortify it, consist of two large walls of huge stones,surround the castle from outside and inside, the first outside wall surrounds the castle from the four sides. The east wall is two metres wide and eight metres high, with no towers.
The west wall is a large wall and thicker than the rest of the castle's walls with three round towers, this wall is the oldest remaining part. The south wall overlooks the eastern port, with three round towers and a door in the middle. The north wall overlooks the sea directly, its lower part is a large roofed passage with many rooms built directly above the rocks , the upper part is a passage with narrow openings overlook the sea.
The inner walls of Qaitbay Citadel are built of stone and surround the main tower on all sides ,except the northern side.It has several rooms inside made as military barracks. The main tower of the castle is located on the northwest side .
North coast guard
For six centuries, Qaitbay Citadel stood as a guard of the north coast, it is considered one of the most important defensive forts along the Mediterranean sea coast.It stood as a strong barrier but it was neglected after the British occupation in 1882.
Over the course of six centuries, the Citadel has fallen only three times, the first time was because of the state of severe weakness that afflicted with the Mameluke state which helped the Ottomans dominate Egypt, and of course the Citadel which has been renewed having realized its military significance.
The second time was in the 18th century by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798.Although Muhammad Ali and his successors had secured the Citadel ,it fell a third time in front of British artillery strikes which hit it directly to affect its old building. Qaitbay Citadel wasn't renewed over the years that followed the British occupation of Egypt until it had turned into ruins and eventually had the Commission for the Conservation of Arab Antiquities' attention in 1904. It was completely restored along the drawings and designs recorded by the French campaign scientists in their famous book "The Description de l'Égypte".