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focus of Cairo, there is equally little hesitation as to what should form the first excursion in the city itself. The Citadel, by all means! It is the loftiest point in town and the most grandly imposing in itself. From its height you may see all the city spread out like a scroll. Nor is it difficult to reach, for the key to it is Mohammed Ali's long, straight highway, and a tram line leads directly to its foot. No better point could be chosen for the first view of the city -- or the last.
As a citadel the spot long ago proved unfit. It is commanded by greater heights beyond, which one must infallibly visit later; and on occasion hostile hands have even bombarded it from the minarets of the huge mosque of Sultan Hassan just below. Nevertheless it is a splendid eminence, crowned with a grim old fort and a tomb-mosque of which more will be said shortly.
There are various ways of going in, according to circumstances. Those who ride, whether in carriages or on donkeys, are forced to make a rather circuitous ascent. Pedestrians may go straight up through the old El Azab gate which opens directly above the little round plaza where the tramway ends — and it is so far the best way that one does well, on this first of many visits, to walk. The path is narrow and steep, walled in on either hand by barrack-rooms and by the living rock out of which the ascent is chiseled.
Here it was the Mamelukes were decoyed and slaughtered by Mohammed Ali - of blessed memory - in the year grace 1811. To be sure, they aver that one Mameluke escaped by causing his horse to leap through a breach in the parapet to the ravine below — but the point at which this is now said to have occurred seems inconsistent with the story of the massacre.
Persistent rascals claiming to be “watchmen" are almost certain to attach themselves to your party, no matter which way you go up, and a good deal of firmness is required to drive them away. Of course their presence is absolutely needless and their importunity unwelcome. Therefore drive them off at any cost. Your first experience of Cairo ought not to be marred by the presence of any babbling attendant, full of lies and insistent for backsheesh. As for "watchmen” to “protect you,” — always the wailing plea of the designing beggar, - you need them far more in Broadway than on the Citadel.
The best of all the views is to be had from a narrow platform on the farther side of the mosque of Mohammed Ali, and to reach it you circle the building and follow a paved path, sore beset by maimed, halt, and blind. From here the entire town lies unfolded to your view, its close-packed houses broken here and there by the tawny forms of mosques with
yellow domes and graceful minarets. Its eastern quarters at your feet present a perfect labyrinth. From the muddle of streets arises a clatter and a tumult muffled by the distance. Far across the city towers the dome of the museum and away to the west the pyramids rear themselves majestically through the dust and haze. It is a fearful drop from the platform to the gulfs below, and of course they have selected the most imposing depth of all for the point at which the bold Mameluke sprang with his steed. No wonder Saladin, who was not mindful of the advent of artillery, chose the spot for his fortress in the long ago. The Mokhattam hills behind seemed far enough away for safety in 1176. Even when you go around to the back of the Citadel and look out of its narrow postern, the cliffs still seem sufficiently distant to warrant the use of the present hill as the location for a fort. Time, however, has changed all that - and to-day the sole use of the Citadel is for barracks resembling those one sees at Gibraltar, the alabaster mosque in the midst adding a most unmilitary touch to what once was grim and threatening.
What I would emphasize is that, from the Citadel, Cairo really satisfies the eye as an Oriental spot — better in fact than it is likely to do when you come to inspect it in detail below. Take a long look, therefore, from the lofty platform and appreciate the mag