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Citadel of Damascus

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The Citadel of Damascus (Arabic: قلعة دمشق‎, Qalʿat Dimašq) is a large medieval fortified palace and citadel in Damascus, Syria. It is part of the Ancient City of Damascus.

Overview

The location of the current citadel was first fortified in 1076 CE by the Turkman warlord Atsiz bin Uvak, although it is possible but not proven that a citadel stood on this place in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Saladin's brother Al-Adil rebuilt the citadel completely between 1203 and 1216 in response to the development of the counterweight trebuchet. The citadel remained in Ayyubid hands until the Mongols under their general Kitbuqa captured Damascus in 1260, thereby ending Ayyubid rule in Syria. After the defeat of the Mongols in 1260 by the Mamluks, who had succeeded the Ayyubids as rulers of Egypt, Damascus came under Mamluk rule. Except for brief periods in 1300 and 1401 CE, when the Mongols conquered Damascus, the Mamluks controlled the citadel until 1516. In that year, Syria fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Damascus surrendered without a fight and from the 17th century onward the citadel functioned as barracks for the Jannisaries—Ottoman infantry units.

circa 700 CE

The citadel is located in the northwest corner of the city walls, between the Bab al-Faradis and the Bab al-Jabiyah. The citadel consists of a more or less rectangular curtain wall enclosing an area of 230 by 150 metres (750 by 490 ft). The walls were originally protected by 14 massive towers, but today only 12 remain. The citadel has gates on its northern, western and eastern flanks. The current citadel dates primarily to the Ayyubid period while incorporating parts of the older Seljuq fortress. Extensive repairs in response to sieges and earthquakes were carried out in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

circa 700 CE

Mosque and Maqam of abi Darda
The mosque and maqam of abi Darda (مسجد و مقام الصحابي أبي الدرداء) is a small Islamic prayer hall built into the northern walls of the Damascus Citadel (قلعة دمشق). Inside this small structure is a tomb purported to belong to Abi al-Dardaa (أبي الدرداء). Once a wealthy merchant from Medina (Saudi Arabia), abi Darda (أبي الدرداء) was a prominent companion of prophet Muhammad, he converted to Islam after the Battle of Badr.

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