Egypt: Cairo: Other - Bab al-Azab

Bab al-Azab

The Bab al-Azab protected the original entrance to the Citadel and was rebuilt in 1754 by Abd el-Rahman Katkhuda, from which the brass-bound wooden doors date. The gate's notoriety spawns from a single but decisive action by Mohammed Ali, the early 19th century governor of Egypt.

When Mohammed Ali came to be ruler of Egypt, the Mameluke factions still controlled much of the country and resisted much of his authority under their ancient baronial rights. On the excuse of a big celebration for his son Tusun, he invited the leading Mameluke lords to attend, implying that he wanted to come to terms with them.

On March 1, 1811, five hundred Mamelukes chiefs led by Shahin Bey marched in the military procession of Mohammed Ali's celebrations as one of his rearguard contingents. As they rode out of the Citadel down the narrow little hill to the gate of Azab, which opened out into Roumaliya Square, the huge doors of the gate were suddenly slammed shut in front of them, so that they were trapped in a narrow defile with high walls on either side and a detachment of Albanian soldiers behind. There was little chance of escape, as Turkish soldiers high atop the walls poured down a merciless fusillade. In one swoop, Muhammad Ali ended the long domination of the Mamelukes in Egypt.