Palaces – I love Palaces! 

If you, like me, grew up enchanted by tales of Cinderella, Snow White, and later learned history through historical novels as I did, then Palaces hold a special allure.  They evoke feelings of romance, mystery, and the promise of a luxurious life.

For years, I eagerly waited for ABDEEN PALACE to re-open.  I went there about 5 times over the years but each time it was closed.  When I finally got in, I was not disappointed – I was in love!  Abdeen Palace, although a museum, exudes a unique charm that sets it apart from typical museums.  Perhaps it’s because of my keen interest not only in Pharaonic Egypt but also in the rich and interesting history of the Mohamed Ali Dynasty, and the families of the last kings of Egypt: King Fouad and his son, King Farouk.  In fact, my knowledge of Egyptian history might just surpass my knowledge of Irish history.

Treasure Trove: Gifts to the Rulers of Egypt

Today Abdeen Palace is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave of treasure and priceless artifacts, housing the remarkable gifts presented to Egypt’s Kings, Queens, and Presidents by foreign nations.  It’s a bit disheartening, though, to find no gift from Ireland among these splendid offerings.  I had hoped, at the very least, to come across a piece of Waterford Crystal or exquisite Belleek Pottery.  Instead, the collection sparkles with opulence beyond imagination from all over the world—solid gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and an array of precious gemstones.  Truly, all that glitters here is indeed gold, in its most dazzling and extravagant forms!

Private Collections of King Farouk

The remarkable and distinctive items acquired through auctions and curated by King Farouk hold an allure all their own, making a visit truly worthwhile. Among these captivating pieces, there’s the astonishing jewelry box with a hidden, lethal secret, Mussolini’s personal handgun, an extensive assortment of weaponry, an impressive collection of paintings, and the personal belongings of various Egyptian rulers.  I find these artifacts utterly fascinating.

Just like the Islamic Museum of Art, exploring Abdeen Palace is best done with a knowledgeable guide who can unveil the hidden gems, tell the stories and provide context to the exhibits.  I hope that in the coming years, they will open up more of the museum’s treasures to the public.

Origin of Abdeen Palace

The Palace was named in honor Abidin Bey al-Arnaut, an Albanian commander in Muhammad Ali’s early Egyptian era.  He not only played pivotal roles in various campaigns and governance but also intervened to thwart an assassination attempt on Muhammad Ali’s life.  In tribute to his legacy, the magnificent Abdeen Palace was constructed on the very grounds of his Cairo residence, and the surrounding district was renamed in his honor.  Tragically, his life was cut short by an untimely murder during a mutiny, just two years after his return to Cairo.

Nestled in the heart of Cairo, Abdeen is not only a Palace but also a historical district   Abdeen Palace itself is a 19th-century architectural marvel, commissioned by the visionary Khedive Ismail.  It was the seat of government from 1874 until the July Revolution in 1952.  Khedive Ismail thought that the ruler of Egypt should live down among the people of Cairo rather than high up above them in the Citadel of Salah al-Din and his grandfather, Muhammad Ali.

The construction of the palace spanned a decade under the supervision of Engineer De Corel wel Rousseou, with the dedicated efforts of a diverse team of Egyptian, Italian, French, and Turkish painters. The palace itself was erected at a cost of 700,000 pounds, while the exquisite furnishings amounted to a staggering 2 million Egyptian pounds

King Fouad I and his son, King Farouk, extended the original palace, transforming it into a repository of history.  Today, it houses a diverse collection, including a weapons museum, royal medals, unrivalled collection of silver, ceramics, priceless paintings, and personal items of the Royal Family.

One striking aspect of Abdeen Palace that I’ve noticed is its emphasis on the male members of the dynasty.  It would be truly fascinating, for instance, to have the opportunity to admire the exquisite gowns and attire of the Royal Ladies.  After all, it’s essential to remember that the strength and influence of the men in history were often complemented and supported by the remarkable women who played significant roles in their lives.  Their contributions and fashion are a vital part of the broader historical narrative.  Two of the earliest ladies from Egyptian history that we know a little about are Amina Hanim and Shajar Al Durr.  Surely something remains in a dusty old room somewhere belonging to Amina Hanim at least?  To find anything of Shajar would be a miracle indeed.

As for its architecture, Abdeen Palace is a captivating fusion of French, Oriental, and Turkish influences, the outside of which brings Buckingham Palace to mind.  Its halls echo with the footsteps of history, offering visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Egypt’s past and present.  Don’t miss the chance to explore this glittering piece of Egypt’s heritage.

Abdeen Palace MUSEUMS

To sum up:  Abdeen Palace houses a fascinating array of museums, each offering a unique glimpse into history:

  • The War Museum, established by King Farouk, showcases an extensive collection of weaponry, including Egyptian arms from King Farouk’s own collection.
  • Museum of Presidential Gifts, was founded by former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in 2005.  It exhibits a wide range of presidential gifts and belongings of the Mubarak family, alongside an impressive collection of royal medals of honor.
  • Royal Museum features a rich display of royal family possessions, including gifts, exquisite dishes, and meticulously crafted restoration items made from materials like stained glass, gold, and silver. It also houses a unique collection of royal medals.
  • Museum of Historical Documents offers a captivating journey through time, presenting important and confidential historical documents from various eras.
  • Silver Museum, added in 1998, showcases a remarkable assortment of rare personal silver belongings once owned by the family of Mohammad Ali Pasha.

I will leave it to the detective in you to find the intriguing certificate of membership in the Masonic Lodge, discreetly displayed… hint: it is displayed in a glass wall case, in a corner.

Historic Events that took place at Abdeen Palace

  • 1879 In Khedive Ismail abdicated the throne of Egypt and was replaced by his son Muhammad Tawfik Pasha.
  • 1881 Ahmed Orabi, an army general led a military demonstration in the square in front of Abdeen Palace
  • 1919 people of Cairo filled Abdeen Square demanding that the revolutionary Saad Zaghloul be brought back from exile
  • 1920 February 11 Crown Prince Farouk, first child of Queen Nazli and King Fouad was born in Abdeen Palace.
  • 1923 November 8 Princess Faiza, the third child of Queen Nazli and King Fouad was born in the Abdeen Palace.
  • 1930 December 17 Princess Fathia, youngest daughter of Queen Nazli and King Fouad was born in Abdeen Palace.
  • 1938 wedding of King Farouk to Queen Farida took place at Abdeen Palace.
  • 1939 March 15 the wedding of Princess Fawzia to the crown prince of Iran, Mohamed Reza Pahlavi took place in Abdeen Palace.
  • 1940 April 7 Princess Fawzia Farouk the second daughter of Queen Farida and King Farouk was born in Abdeen Palace.
  • 1942, the night of 4 Feb, the British under General Robert Stone surrounded Abdeen Palace with troops and tanks, and presented King Farouk with an abdication decree for his signature.  This became known as the “Abdeen Palace Incident”
  • 1943 December 15 Princess Fadia, youngest daughter of Queen Farida and King Farouk was born in Abdeen Palace.
  • 1952 January 16 Crown Prince Ahmed Fuad, the only son of King Farouk and his second wife Queen Narriman, , was born in Abdeen Palace.

What Rulers Lived in Abdeen Palace?

  • Khedive Isma‟il 1863 – 1879
  • Khedive Tawfik Pasha 1879 – 1892
  • Khedive Abbas Hilmi II 1892 – 1914
  • Sultan Hussein Kamel 1914 – 1917
  • King Fuad 1918 – 1936 A.D
  • King Farouk 1936 – 1952 – Egypt’s last royal family
  • President Muhammad Najib, the first president of Egypt 1952 – 1954

Mara House  TOURS to Abdeen Palace

A visit to Abdeen Palace is truly a must, offering great value for your money.  Our approach is to enhance your experience by combining the tour with visits to other historically significant sites like the Islamic Museum, Gayer Anderson House, Aisha Fahmy Palace, Al Manial Palace, and more.  We aim to create a comprehensive journey through the same period, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the history and culture of the era.

To truly appreciate these sites, it’s always advisable to explore them with a knowledgeable guide who can weave captivating stories about the buildings, the lives of those who once resided there, and the treasures they hold.

If you’re interested in arranging a visit to Abdeen Palace or any of these fascinating locations, please don’t hesitate to contact me at  I’d be delighted to help you tour these sites with our knowledgeable guides and have memorable experiences.

Tour is bookable via email to Mara

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