The Military Museum in the Citadel in Cairo
About the Military Museum in Cairo
The Egyptian army has had many victories and has won many battles throughout the long rich history of Egypt. Since the Pharaonic era and until the modern times, the Egyptian military forces have always played a vital role in the lives of the Egyptian civilians.
The Military Museum in the Saladin Citadel in Cairo stands as the best evidence for the victories of the Egyptian army and the heroism of the Egyptian soldier who was described by Napoleon as the finest soldiers in the world.
The Museum illustrates the story of the Egyptian military forces since prehistoric times and until our modern days illustrating a large number of battles and wars where the Egyptian Army showed great skills.
The Establishment of the Military Museum
The Military Museum in the Citadel in Cairo was established in 1937 when the displays of the museum occupied only two rooms in the old building of the Ministry of Defense in Cairo. Afterwards, the museum was transferred temporary to a building in the Sheikh Barakat Street in Garden City in the year 1938.
At the end the displays of the Military Museum were relocated in its current location in Harem Palace of the Citadel of Saladin and the museum was officially open for public visits in November 1949 after two years of preparations.
Today the Military Museum is located inside the Citadel of Saladin, in the North Western section of it overlooking the Mokatam Mountain.
The History of the Harem Palace in the Citadel
The Harem Palace in the Citadel was dedicated to become the residence of Mohamed Ali, the founder of modern Egypt, his family, and his Harem or his ladies. When Egypt fell under the British Occupation in 1882, the building became the headquarter of the military leader of the British army.
Afterwards, the palace was transformed to become the military hospital of the British army that was occupied Egypt for a long period of time. At the end the Egyptian authorities took back the Harem Palace of the citadel in 1946 in the reign of King Farouk, the last king of Egypt and the Egyptian flag was raised on the top of the palace.
Since that date, the palace went under the control of the Committee of Preserving the Arabian Antiquities and then the Egyptian Ministry took the palace and prepared it to become the Military Museum that demonstrates the history of the Egyptian army throughout different periods of time.
The Displays of the Open Air Section
When the guests pass from the outer entrance gate of the Military Museum in the citadel, they enter inside the garden of the museum and inside a wide passageway that hosts eight historical canons, some of them were made in Great Britain, others were made in the United States of America, while some of them were manufactured in Egypt in the reign of Mohamed Ali.
Just beside this section, there is another part of the museum where some tools that were used by the soldiers, a number of weapons, and some of the Israeli tanks that were used during the war of October 1973 are put on display.
At the end of the passageway, there is a large circular arena with the famous statue of Ibrahim Pasha, the leader of the Egyptian army during the reign of Mohamed Ali, standing in the center.
Afterwards, there is another wide passageway that hosts some statues of the king and rulers of Egypt during the Pharaonic era like Ramses II and King Menes, the Unifier of Southern and Northern Egypt.
Opposite to these statues, there are other statues of more modern rulers of Egypt like Saladin Al Ayouby, Al Zaher Beybars, Mohamed Ali, and Khedive Ismail.
The Displays of the First Floor of the Military Museum
The Open Air section of the Military Museum leads the guests inside the Harem Palace to view the rest of the museum. The first place that the guests enter is the Hall of Glory that displays a panorama of the events in Egypt beginning from the Pharaonic era to the War of October 1973 against the Israeli army.
The main portrait in this section illustrate all the periods of the Egyptian history together in one work of art. It consists of a large drawing with the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak in the middle and many of the army leaders standing around him with a scene from the victory of the Egyptian armies in 1973 at the background of the scene.
In front of this portrait there is a large statue of an Egyptian soldier with the sentence; "the best soldiers in the world" carved on the statue.
Behind the statue there is a large gallery displays some golden military medals that date back to the period of the Pharaohs that were presented by Tuthmosis III to Amun Hotep because of his bravery in the battles during the ruling period of the 8th dynasty.
On the right side of the hall, there is the Hall of the Knights and this where statues of Egyptian knights from different periods of time are put on display riding their horses and wearing their special uniform of each period of the Egyptian history. There are examples of knights from the early Islamic days, the Ayyubid period, the Mamluk period, and the Ottoman era as well.
The left side of the hall displays some of the scene of the championships of the Egyptian soldiers during the war of October 1973 and how they had many victories against the Israeli forces in different battles.
Next is the hall of the military Uniforms which illustrate the historical evolution of the outfits of the Egyptian army soldiers, officers, and leaders throughout history from the period of the Pharaohs till our modern days.
Afterwards, there is the canons section that exhibits many examples of canons since its invention, its development, and then during the days of Mohamed Ali. In this section, there is a large plate that has the names of the Egyptian officers that took medals and honors during the war of 1973.
The guests then enter inside the Hall of the weapons that include many weapons and tools that were used to defend the Saladin Citadel in different periods of time.
The second floor of the museum illustrates the history of the Egyptian military during the Pharaonic and Greco Roman periods. This section displays some scenes from the battles in ancient Egypt with some battles from the reign of Tuthmosis III and Ramses II.
The Displays of the Third Floor of the Military Museum
The third floor of the Military Museum in the Citadel of Saladin in the Citadel hosts the displays illustrating the history of the Egyptian military forces during the Islamic era.
This section has some detailed scenes from famous historical battles where the Arabs had great victories like the battles of Hittin and Ain Jalut with some marvelous details.
One portrait has Saif El Din Qutuz in the beginning of the battle of Ain Jalut dividing his forces into three sections in the western part of the River of Jalut. The portrait also shows how the Arabian army was able to deceive the Tatars and record a great victory in one of the most important military battles in the Egyptian history.
The second portrait shows the Tatars forces being under the siege of the Egyptian forces from behind and front and the mountains surrounding the Tatars from the left and the right before sever clashes started and resulted in a glorious victory for the Egyptian army when the Tatars wanted to occupy Egypt coming from the East.
Among the most wonderful displays of this section is a wonderful replica of one of the swords of Prophet Mohamed and the personal pistol of Mohamed Ali.
The Section of Mohamed Ali in the Military Museum is quite remarkable due to the fact that Mohamed Ali is credited for modernizing many aspects of the Egyptian life and army.
This section has some of the magnificent paintings of the members of the royal family in Egypt. This is besides many statues that were made out of bronze, stones, and gypsum. Most of these statues are featured with its simplicity and the depth of its meaning and content.
The Hall of the Suez Canal is another great section of the third floor of the Military Museum as it illustrates in details the digging of the Canal. There is also the section dedicated to the French Occupation of Egypt that remained for a short period of time. This section displays the battles of this period and the revolution of the Egyptian against the French occupation and how the French army hit Al Azhar Mosque, the center of the Egyptian revolution to force the people to stop their rebellions.
The guests then enters the section of the Egyptian revolution of the year 1952 with illustration of the events of the revolution, a portrait of the Free Soldiers, photos of the Egyptian presidents and the ministers of defense since the revolution and until today.
Afterwards, there is the section dedicated to the war of the year 1967 and the defeat of the Egyptian forces against the Israelis. Then, the guests enter the section which is specified for the victory of the Egyptian Army over the Israeli forces in the war of the 6th of October 1973 and how the Egyptian soldiers showed their military skills and how heroic they were to achieve victory in the last battle that the Egyptian army went through.
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Open daily, 9:30-4:30
Included in entrance to the Citadel:
Egyptian/Arab: LE 2
Foreign: LE 40
50% reduction for bearers of International Student ID Card
BY BUS: Bus numbers 174 and 173 stop at Midan Salah ad-Din, in front of the Citadel
BY TAXI: Ask for "al-el-ah"
Cafeteria, Gift Shop
NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED. Cameras must be checked at building entrance.
The museum is not wheelchair accessible.