The final touches are being added to the restoration of Cairo’s Mohamed Ali Palace ahead of its reopening as a newly revamped museum, the tourism ministry said on Monday.
The palace premises were inspected by Egypt’s tourism minister Khaled El-Enany on Wednesday, who was accompanied by a delegation of officials from the country’s state-affiliated Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The palace, which was built over a period of 13 years between 1808 and 1821, was historically the second home of the founder of modern Egypt, Mohamed Ali, who built it on the banks of the Nile away from his landlocked citadel in Old Cairo.
Restoration of the palace began in 2015 following a car bomb targeting a nearby security building which caused a number of the palace’s fixtures to break, and destroyed all of the dining room’s stained glass windows.
None of the museum’s treasured artefacts were damaged in the explosion, however, as they were all stored in one of the palace’s large rooms pending the completion of planned renovations, which up until that point had been stalled.
The larger palace complex houses two smaller residences, each with a unique history and story. One of the residences is named El-Fasqiah Palace, used for receptions and festivals. The other is the smaller Gabalaya residence, which was home to the women of the palace.
The El-Fasqiah Palace, known for heavily featuring marble in its construction, has had its floors and wall fixtures completely replaced, said the ministry’s statement. The palace’s wooden fixtures have also been replaced to remove much of the old wood, many portions of which had rotted over the years.
A new walkway has been built on the palace’s grounds, which will be home to restaurants, cafes and souvenir bazaars. The new walkway will also feature the newly built security kiosks and a carpark for visitors.
A small pedestrian bridge has also been built, linking the palace’s grounds with the nearby marina on the banks of the Nile. The marina has also been revamped to receive tourists arriving at the palace by boat.
Furthermore, the entire palace is being installed with plaques that will inform visitors of the historical significance of the its artefacts.
The palace’s garden is known for housing several old and rare species of trees and shrubs. Labels will be added, to inform visitors of their age and rarity.
Mohamed Ali Palace is known for combining the European decorative style with Islamic architectural planning, which has given the palace its unofficial nickname of Egypt’s Versailles. The palace also houses a host of paintings of Mohammed Ali and his family members.
Restoration work on the palace has cost the tourism ministry more than EGP 200 million ($12.7m) since it began in 2015. It is expected to start receiving visitors towards the end of the year.