Cairo Citadel Egypt about 1892

THE CITADEL, CAIRO, EGYPT — Far above most of the mosques and dwellings of Egypt’s fascinating capital is a massive fortress built in 1166 on a hill commanding a magnificent view not only of the entire city, but of the Nile, the Desert, the Pyramids and the Sphinx. It was largely constructed out of stones taken from some of the Pyramids. Close by it is the “Alabaster Mosque” of Mahomet Ali, the founder of the present Egyptian dynasty. Its well-proportioned domes rest lightly one upon another, like beautifully rounded clouds, while its slender marble minarets rise into the blue air, looking, when tinged with the glow of sunrise or of sunset, like silver lances tipped with points of gold. Gloomy memories haunt that Cairene citadel. There in 1811 occurred the massacre of the Mamelukes by order of Mahomet Ali, who wished to be rid of these political enemies. He invited them to a banquet in that fortress, and they came, magnificently attired, to the number of 470 men. Hardly had they entered the courtyard of the citadel when the gates were closed behind them, and a murderous fire was opened on them by the Viceroy’s troops, who suddenly appeared upon the walls. Unable alike to defend themselves or to escape, they fell in one red, writhing mass, with the exception of one man, who, spurring his horse over the weltering bodies of his comrades, forced him to leap on and over the parapet to the plain below. It was a fearful distance. One moment he was in mid-air; the next he was freeing himself from his mangled steed amid a shower of bullets. Yet he escaped, as if by miracle, into the adjacent desert, the only one preserved of all that brilliant band. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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