The Citadel situates in El Muqattam area in Salah Salem Street. It was mainly established by Saladin, Sultan Nur El Din Mahmud's nephew who managed to conqure the Crusaders. He assumed the power of Egypt in 1169 founding the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt. He established this military Citadel to be the center of rule and placed it over the Muqattam hills in a very strategic place dominating the city of Cairo and EL Fustat.

The original plan of The citadel was onsisting of two separate inclosures: the northern and the southern ones. The northern part is distinguished by the half round towers and the curtain wall. In 1207, Sultan El-Adel paid a great attention to strengthening the towers of the citadel and established two towers known now as Burg El-Ramla and Burg El-Haddad. In the reign of El-kamil, Saladin's nephew who ruled Egypt for about 20 years used the citadel as his residence.

The citadel was once surrounded by some buildings such as the royal stable, a park, and a market beyond which the residences of the upper class members and the high officials were placed. In the reign of Sultan El-Nasir Muhammed many parts of the citadel were destroyed including the mosque, library, the audience hall and other places. In the Mamluk period, the building witnessed a great process of restoration on the hands of Baybars I who built Bab El-Qalaa to relate the southern and northern enclosures of the citadel. Another process of restoration was made in the reign of Mohammed Ali who attached his remarkable mosqueto it. After the restoration of 1983, the building was added to the list of monuments in Egypt.

The Well of Yusuf or Saladin's Well lies in Salah Salem Street in the Citadel area eastward the Mosque of El-Nasir Mohammed. Salah El-Din El-Ayyuby entrusted the Crusader prisoners with digging this well. There were some waterwheels used for raising the water to the citadel over the hills in the ordinary days, while the well was used as a source of water for the citadel at the times of war. This well is admired for its depth that allows the water to come directly from the Nile to the Well through certain channels. The well is known as Beer El-Halazun or "the spiral Well" because it is surrounded by a flight of stair steps surrounding the main shaft of the well. There are two aqueducts next to the citadel in order to protect its base from the water surrounding it.