The Military Museum
The Egyptian army has won many battles throughout the nation's long and rich history. From the Pharaonic era to modern times, Egyptian military forces have always played a vital role in the lives of Egyptian civilians as a guarantor of the homeland and defense against enemies from abroad. The Military Museum of Cairo is located in the Saladin Citadel. It is full of information about the victories of the Egyptian army and the heroism of the Egyptian soldiers from historical times to the present day. Napoleon described Egyptian soldiers as the finest soldiers in the world.
The Museum illustrates the story of the Egyptian military forces since prehistoric times. It represents many battles and wars where the Egyptian Army showed great skill and bravery.
Establishment Of The Military Museum
The Military Museum was established in 1937 when the museum displays occupied only two rooms in the old building of the Ministry of Defense in Cairo. Afterward, the museum was transferred temporarily to a building on Sheikh Barakat Street in Garden City in 1938. and the displays of the Military Museum were relocated to its current location in the Harem Palace of the Citadel of Saladin. After two years of preparations, the museum was officially open for public visits in November 1949. Today, the Military Museum is located inside the Citadel of Saladin, in the North Western section overlooking the Mokatam Mountain.
The History Of The Harem Palace In The Citadel
The Harem Palace in the Citadel was a historical residence of Mohamed Ali, the founder of modern Egypt, his family, and his harem or mistresses. When Egypt fell under British Occupation in 1882, the building became the headquarters of the military leader of the British army. Afterward, the palace was transformed to become the military hospital of the British army; the Egyptian authorities took back the Harem Palace of the citadel in 1946 during the reign of King Farouk, the last king of Egypt.
Since then, the palace has been under the control of the Committee of Preserving the Arabian Antiquities, followed by the Egyptian Ministry of Defence, which made it into a military museum.
Displays In The Open-Air Section
When the guests pass from the outer entrance gate of the Military Museum in the citadel, they enter the museum's garden and inside a wide passageway with eight historical canons. Just beside this section, there is another part of the museum where some tools that the soldiers used, several 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 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. Afterward, another wide passageway 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 these statues, there are other statues of more modern rulers of Egypt, like Saladin Al Ayouby, Al Zaher Beybars, Mohamed Ali, and Khedive Ismail.
Displays On The First Floor Of The Military Museum
The Open Air section of the Military Museum leads the guests inside the Harem Palace to the rest of the museum. The first place the guests enter is the Hall of Glory, which displays a panorama of the events in Egypt, beginning from the Pharaonic era to the War of October 1973 against the Israeli army. The central portrait in this section illustrates all the periods of 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 in the background of the scene. In front of this portrait is a giant 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 displaying 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 is where statues of Egyptian knights from different periods of time are put on display, riding their horses and wearing their special uniform for each period of 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 scenes 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 military Uniforms, which illustrates 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. Afterward, the canons section exhibits many examples of canons since their invention, their development, and then during the days of Mohamed Ali. In this section is a large plate with the names of the Egyptian officers who took medals and honors during the War of 1973. The guests then enter the Hall of Weapons, which includes many weapons and tools used to defend the Saladin Citadel in different periods. The museum's second floor illustrates the history of the Egyptian military during the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman periods. This section displays scenes from the battles in ancient Egypt, with some wars from the reign of Tuthmosis III and Ramses II.
The Displays on the Third Floor of the Military Museum
The third floor of the Military Museum in the Citadel of Saladin has many 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 at 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 could deceive the Tatars and record a significant victory in one of Egyptian history's most critical military battles.
The second portrait shows the Tatar forces being under siege by the Egyptian forces from behind and front and the mountains surrounding the Tatars from the left and the right before severe 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 beautiful displays of this section is a lovely replica of one of the swords of the Prophet Mohamed and the personal pistol of Mohamed Ali. The Section of Mohamed Ali in the Military Museum is remarkable because Mohamed Ali is credited for modernizing many aspects of Egyptian life and the army.
This section has some of the magnificent paintings of the royal family members in Egypt. This is in addition to many bronze, stone, and gypsum statues. Most of these statues are featured with the simplicity and depth of their meaning and content. The Hall of the Suez Canal is another excellent section of the third floor of the Military Museum as it illustrates in detail the digging of the Canal. There is also the section dedicated to the French Occupation of Egypt that remained for a short period. This section displays the battles of this period, the revolution of the Egyptians 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 enter the section on the Egyptian Revolution of the year 1952 with an illustration of the events of the revolution, a portrait of the Free Soldiers, and photos of the Egyptian presidents and the ministers of defense since the revolution and until today.
Afterward, there is a 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 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 am-4:30 pm
- Included in the entrance to the Citadel:
- Egyptian/Arab: LE 5
- Foreign: LE 80
- 50% reduction for forbearers of International Student ID Card
The Citadel in Cairo
BY BUS: Bus numbers 174 and 173 stop at Midan Salah ad-Din, in front of the Citadel
- It has Cafeteria and Gift Shop
- Photography is not allowed. Cameras must be checked at the building entrance.
- The museum is not wheelchair accessible.