Mosque of Muhammad Ali.The day after our tour of the Giza Pyramids, Memphis and Sakkara, I headed out with some work friends to explore more of Cairo. We didn’t hire a guide, just a driver to take us from point A to B (and to C, D and E). Our first stop: The Citadel.The Citadel and Muhammad Ali Mosque.Situated atop Mokattam Hill, the Citadel and the minarets of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali have dominated Cairo’s skyline for centuries. The photo above was actually taken one evening earlier in the week, from the backseat of a hired car en route to downtown Cairo, before said car got a flat tire and we had to pull off the side of the highway. (Our driver changed the tire in 15 minutes and we made it to our destination, don’t worry.)View of the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hussan and Cairo as seen from the Citadel.The Citadel was built by Saladin in the 12th century to fortify the city against the Crusaders. The Ottoman-style Mosque of Muhammad Ali was built in the 19th century. Later, the Citadel became a military garrison that housed the British army during World War II.Inner courtyard of the mosque.Today, the Citadel is also home to a few museums, including the Egyptian Military Museum and the Egyptian Police Museum. Since this was the first stop on our day of touring, we arrived before the museums were officially open, so we didn’t get a chance to go in.We did enjoy walking around, appreciating the beautiful architecture of the mosques (there are two other mosques at the Citadel, Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque and the Mosque of Suleyman Pasha) and the panoramic views of Cairo. It was a bit hazy — I think due to a combination of pollution and the desert climate — but from the top of the hill you can really get perspective on how huge of a city Cairo is.Mihrab in Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque.It would have been nice to tour the Citadel with a guide to get a fuller understanding of its history. But since we were so short on time for sightseeing, we opted for the express, self-guided version to allow time to visit other historic sites and tourist attractions. It’s always good to save something for next time!Do you prefer guided tours, or exploring on your own with the aid of a guidebook?See more photos from Cairo.