Sprawling over a limestone spur on the eastern edge of the city, the Citadel of Saladin (or Al-Qalaa) was home to Egypt’s rulers for some 700 years. Their legacy is a collection of three very different mosques, including the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, several palaces (housing some underwhelming museums such as the police and military museums) and a couple of terraces with city views.
The area was fortified around 1180 to protect it from the Crusaders. In the 1860s, ruler Khedive Ismail moved to newly built Abdin Palace, ending the citadel’s role as the seat of government.
Catch bus 174 from Midan Ramses or 173 from Midan Falaki, or grab a taxi which is cheap in Cairo. Admission to the Citadel of Saladin includes entry to all the museums within the Citadel. Though this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cairo (particularly for Egyptians), it is relatively unimpressive and decidedly overpriced.
Colossus of Ramses II
The massive limestone statue of Pharaoh Ramses II is 33 feet (10 m) long and that’s without having any legs! Ramses II was the longest serving pharaoh in Ancient Egypt, reigning from 1279 BC to 1213 BC. The statue was found in 1820 by an Italian traveller, Giovanni Caviglia. It is another example of the supreme craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians which baffles artists and historians today.
It is housed in the Memphis Museum in a small village on the site of what was once Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt. There is not much to see aside from the Colossus and a few other sculptures. There are ongoing excavations in the area but to the untrained eye it just looks like digging in river mud.
The Memphis Museum which houses the Colussus of Ramses II is in the modern town of Mit Rahina, south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile. It is only about ten minutes away from Saqqara and the pyramid of Djoser so it is worth a quick detour to see but not a trip on its own. There is no public transport there from Cairo and the best way to get there is by guided tour or by hiring a private car.