Built by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay during the 14th century, the citadel’s main objective is to defend Alexandria from Ottoman Empire, who were advancing in the Mediterranean. Therefore, the sultan constructed it on the eastern side of the northern tip of Pharos Island at the mouth of the Eastern Harbor.
Qaitbay Citadel was erected on the site of Alexandria Lighthouse, which was once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The tall lighthouse, which was built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 BC, was badly damaged by the three earthquakes that hit Alexandria between AD 956 and 1323. Hence, the Qaitbay Citadel was erected by Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay on lighthouse’s site.
Many years after this incident, the lighthouse fell into ruins when the British fleet bombarded Alexandria violently on 11 July 1882. That’s why its current form is not the original one as it was restored several times in the 20th century.