Cairo Governorate

Abdeen Palace Museum

Abdeen Palace is a historic Cairo palace. It was built as one of the official residences for the former ruling monarchy and the royal family of Egypt. Currently, it is one of the official residences and the principal workplace of the President of Egypt, located above Qasr el-Nil Street in eastern Downtown Cairo, Egypt.

Location of Abdeen Palace

Abdeen Palace stands in El Gomhoreya Sq., Cairo, Cairo 11, Egypt.

Overview

Built on the site of a small mansion owned by Abdeen Bey, Abdeen Palace, which is named after him, is considered one of the most sumptuous palaces in the world in terms of its adornments, paintings, and a large number of clocks scattered in the parlours and wings, most of which are decorated with pure gold. Built under the rule of Ismail Pasha to become Egypt’s official government headquarters instead of the Citadel of Cairo (which had been the centre of Egyptian government since the Middle Ages), this palace was used as well for many official events and ceremonies.

Established on 24 acres, the castle was designed by the French architect Léon Rousseau and many Egyptian, Italian, French, and European decorators. The construction started in 1863 and continued for ten years, and the palace was officially inaugurated in 1874. Joseph Urban added a new wing in 1891. However, the palace’s garden was added in 1921 by Sultan Fuad I on an area of 20 feddans. The cost of building the court reached 700,000 Egyptian pounds and 2 million Egyptian pounds for its furnishing. King Fuad spent more than 18 million French francs between four palaces with just one Parisian furniture manufacturer, Linke & Cie. More money was also finished on the palace’s alteration, preservation and maintenance by consecutive rulers. The castle has 500 suites.

Abdeen Palace Construction

Abdeen Palace was built as part of Khedive Ismail’s ambitious plan to build a modern Cairo similar to modern European cities. As soon as he ascended the throne of Egypt in 1863, he ordered the establishment of the palace. Abdeen Palace was named after Abdeen Bey, one of Mohammad Ali Pasha’s military commanders, who lived at it. Then after Abdeen Bey died, Khedive Ismail bought the palace from his widow. He demolished and expanded its area to be 24 acres and built the current Abdeen Palace, which became one of Cairo’s architectural masterpieces. It took ten years to finish the construction of the palace.

Abdeen Palace is an example of European architecture in Egypt designed by the French architect Rousseau resembling the European palace. Khedive Ismail commissioned several architects from around the world to finish the palace construction before the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869. Nevertheless, the 500-room palace was completed in 1874.

Abdeen Palace Description

Abdeen Palace consists of two floors. The first floor includes the haramlik and salamlik. While the ground floor contains the palace’s garden and a pharmacy of rare medicines opposite to the pharmacy is the former royal printing house and King Farouq’s office.

The Mohammad Ali Hall is the biggest and most luxurious hall in Abdeen Palace. It was built in the Arabic Islamic style and had a distinctive accurate inscription inlaid with marble, granite, and amber. The palace also has several white, red, and green halls to receive the official delegations during their visit to Egypt.

Moreover, the Belgium suite is a magnificent part of Abdeen Palace, given its architectural and decorative unique style. It was so named because the king of Belgium was the first person to stay in it.

The palace is also characterized by its exquisite Italian, Turkish, and French designs and decorations and a collection of rare paintings and pieces of furniture decorated with gold.

Abdeen Palace is not just a palace or architecture masterpiece but also home to five exquisite museums:

Abdeen Museum

The palace today is a museum located in the Old Cairo district of Abdin. The upper floors (the former living quarters of the royal family) are reserved for visiting foreign dignitaries. The lower floors contain the Silver Museum, the Arms Museum, the Royal Family Museum, and the Presidential Gifts Museum. A new museum, the Historical Documents Museum, was opened in January 2005. Among other documents, it contains the Imperial Ottoman firman, or decree, which established the rule of Muhammad Ali and his family, and a certificate for the Order of the Iron Crown from the short-lived South American Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia.

Egypt has an abundance of royal museums built by Mohammad Ali Pasha and his dynasty of kings and princes, such as Al-Gawhara Palace in the Al-Qalaa area and Mohammad Ali Pasha Palace in the Shubra El-Khaima area, Abdeen Palace, and El-Qobba Palace.

Abdeen Palace is one of the most famous royal palaces in Cairo, and it was the seat of government from 1874 until the 23rd revolution in 1952. It was the first time since the Ayyubid era that the ruler of Egypt left the fortress and moved to the heart of Cairo to live among his people. The palace then became one of the presidential palaces following the decision of the Revolutionary Command Council.

1 – War Museum (Arms Museum)

King Farouk constructed it. It displays different weaponry collections, including several Egyptian guns that belonged to King Farouk and some light weapons.

2 – Presidential Gifts museum

President Mubarak established it in 2005 to show many presidential gifts and Mubarak family belongings. In addition, it contains some royal honoree medals.

3 – Royal Museum

Royal Museum contains a significant number of Royal Family belongings. It shows some objects, plates and eating instruments made from coloured glass, gold and silver. It also carries a different collection of Royal Honoree medals.

4 – Historical Documents Museum

Historical Documents Museum displays many important and secret historical documents from different eras.

5 – Silverware Museum

Silverware Museum was added to the Abdeen Palace Museum serial in 1998. It contains several silverware antiques that belonged to Mohamed Ali’s family.