Saturday, 19 May 2012

El Qusair Fort

Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
El Qusair Fort was founded in 1571. It is mentioned in letter written at Qusair in 1589 and sent to Qasr Ibrahim on the Nile in Nubia, where It was found.
After Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt in 1517, they built forts and garrisoned them with troops along the Nile Valley, in the deserts, and on the coasts. An important reason was to defend the Red Sea against Portuguese and to protect Muslim pilgrims who embarked at Qusair for the cities of Mecca and Madina. The Turkish garrison probably stayed until the early eighteenth century by which time contemporary travellers record that the fort was falling down.
In 1799, during Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt, French troops modernized and strengthened the Fort.

The eighteenth century cast-iron cannons display here is an important reminder of the history of the Fort during its only military engagement between the French and the British in 1798.
Six of them have been placed on wooden carriages, two in gun emplacements on the wall overlooking the street and four in the courtyard. The current mounting of the cannons are based on the naval style carriage. Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
View of El Quseir from the inside of the fort -  Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
In the southern corner there is pearl diving vessel, specially commissioned from a local boat builder Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010

Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
These light cannons of 6IB and 8IB  calibre had a short range. They were useless against the bigger guns of the two British warships which, as the French record of the engagement shows bombarded the Fort  from range of 800 meters.
The purpose of this dramatic bombardment, which only ceased when the French colours came down, leaving “the battlement destroyed and the town in ruins” , was  not only to prevent the French from gaining a permanent base on the Red Sea coast but also to persuade the Sherif  of Mecca to stop trade with Egypt through an affective demonstation  of sea power. This political aim was achived although the French did not leave Qusair until after the Battle of the Nile in 1801 when Admiral Nelson destroyed the French fleet near Alexandria, forcing Napoleon to return to France.

The platform that covers that underground cistern shows a map of Egypt in the Graeco-Roman period, with principal towns and routes, it is best viewed from the top of the circular tower, where there is also display on pilgrimage to Mecca Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
Photo by/ Ahmed F.Gad - Copyright © 2010
 The impressive thickening of the outer walls to absorb cannon fire and the new artillery bastion around the south tower show the scale of this work, even though it was left unfinished.
Qusair saw action in defence of the French occupation when two British warship, HMS Fox and HMS Deadalus, bombarded the fort from the harbour.

Failing to dislodge the defenders, they mounted an unsuccessful landing party and then retreated.During the 1820s and 1830s Muhammad Ali Pasha and his successor Ibrahim Pasha repaired the Fort and used it as staging post in their Arabian wars.After this it remained in use by the Egyptian army and coast guard until the 1975s.

The Qusair Fort remains the most impressive standing ancient monument on the Egyptian Red Sea coast, although when the present restoration project began in 1997, it had declined into a state of advances decay. It had isolated position and the eastern corner tower was removed during road widening in the 1960s.
The Fort was chosen as the venue for a visitors` centre aimed at presenting the history and the cultural environment of the Red Sea to tourists and residents.

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