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Restoration of Khedive Ismail’s Historic Cannon

Originally obtained by Khedive Ismail in 1867, this cannon was used during the British bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. It will soon be restored and moved to Alexandria’s Qaitbay Citadel.

Restoration work has begun on a Khedive-era cannon ahead of its move to the front gates of Alexandria’s Qaitbay Citadel, where it will be displayed alongside several cannons that once belonged to Muhammad Ali.


The earliest record of the cannon in Egypt was in 1867, when Khedive Ismail received it from the British. More interestingly, it was used during the Egypt War of 1882, which was a much messier affair. The construction of the Suez Canal in 1869 drew the attention of the British empire, partly because of its value as a trade route between Europe and the Far East, and partly because of debts that had been accrued by the Khedive, which threatened to put the country in financial ruin. The promise of a financial breakdown sparked an increase in French and British intervention, which got pushback from Egyptian nationalists - culminating in a movement led by Egypt’s Ahmed Urabi Pasha, which forced Khedive Tewfiq to replace the government with one that is more favourable to them.


To keep their control of the Khedive, the French and the British sent warships to the coast of Alexandria in April 1882. On June 11th, an argument between an Egyptian donkey boy and a Maltese man sparked a massive riot. The British used Urabi as a scapegoat for the riot. Suspicious of the British’s intentions, Urabi strengthened Alexandria’s defences with cannons. When the Egyptian government turned down the British Admiral Seymour’s demand to remove the guns, the British warships bombarded Alexandria for ten straight hours on July 11th, 1882.


The cannon has since remained in Alexandria as a quiet symbol of Egyptian defiance against British aggression. Its move to Qaitbay Citadel is hoped to put a spotlight on this chapter of Egyptian history.