Definition of citadel in English:



  • A fortress, typically on high ground, protecting or dominating a city.

    • ‘The city fell immediately, but the citadel held out.’
    • ‘It was only when he had almost reached the citadel that he leapt on his horse and rode off.’
    • ‘Lying at the town's highest point, the site resembles a small citadel, hovering above its surroundings and visible from the streets below.’
    • ‘They soon grew tired of the siege, bound their commander, and lowered him down the walls of the citadel to a summary execution.’
    • ‘We drove two hundred kilometers to Bam, a sprawling walled city and citadel begun two thousand years ago by the Parthians.’
    • ‘Nine of the citadel's original fourteen towers still stand, named after the guilds that raised the money to build and maintain them.’
    • ‘The most controversial proposal is for a three-storey museum under the Forbidden City, a sprawling citadel dating from the Ming Dynasty.’
    • ‘At this point the palace-organized economy seems to have ceased, though parts of the citadel continued to be occupied until about 1050 bc.’
    • ‘He actually broke into the city, but could not take the citadel.’
    • ‘The walled citadels in some early cities developed into elaborate palisades, walls, and moats to protect the multitude of Iron Age and medieval cities throughout much of the country.’
    • ‘Peter's army stormed the citadel and sacked the city, killing several thousand inhabitants and local Byzantine troops.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, the Palamidi Fortress, a citadel dominating the town, is worth a visit.’
    • ‘Each city was laid out on a grid plan with a high citadel and a lower city of domestic dwellings.’
    • ‘A deep moat that surrounds the citadel has kept it from being damaged.’
    • ‘The royal citadel, to strengthen the defences, was begun in 1666 and the dockyard at Devonport was developed in William III's reign.’
    • ‘The great city walls were not breached until 146, and it took a week of street fighting for the Romans to work their way to the citadel.’
    • ‘The city fell immediately, but the garrison held out in the citadel.’
    • ‘Victory eluded the British for three months, until Wolfe successfully landed men on the Plains of Abraham above the citadel.’
    • ‘To this end 10,000 troops were quartered on the land, in great citadels at Leith, Ayr, and Perth, and a score of smaller forts.’
    • ‘After the initial skirmishes of the battle, the French withdrew to their massive citadel.’
    fortress, fort, stronghold, fortification, castle, burg, keep, tower, donjon, bunker
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century: from French citadelle, or from Italian cittadella, based on Latin civitas city (see city).