Mohamed Ali Pasha Palace: History of 19th-Century Forgotten Jewel in Shubra

Nehal Samir
4 Min Read

More than 200 years ago, Egyptian ruler Mohamed Ali Pasha picked a unique spot on the banks of the Nile in the Cairo district of Shubra El-Kheima to build a state-of-the-art palace. As Egypt completed conservation work of the palace and its reopening to the public was scheduled soon, DNE Buzz explored the story of this stunning construction. 

Overlooking an impressive park planted with rare trees and shrubs, Mohamed Ali’s Palace is one of the most important royal buildings in Cairo, being one of the oldest and most luxurious palaces in Egypt.

Mohamed Ali began building his palace in 1809, and Zulfikar Katkhuda supervised the construction. It was the first massive construction in Shubra. The palace was built on an area of 50 feddan over several stages that lasted for about 13 years.

Construction and design of the palace

The built-up area reached 26 feddan. It consisted of the Jabaliya kiosk building, which took a rectangle shape, and the Fasqiah building, which included a large water basin, similar to a lake, with a fountain in the middle, surrounded by four halls in the corners, which were the “Dining”, “Asmaa”, “The Throne”, and “Billiard” halls.

The palace combined the European style in decoration and the spirit of Islamic architecture in design. The main building was similar to a mosque, having four ceilings surrounding a huge fountain as if it were a mosque courtyard.

It was a rare architectural masterpiece, combining architecture and arts of the Western and Islamic worlds. The drawings and decorations of the palace were executed in the Italian and French styles of the 19th Century. Mohamed Ali hired French, Italian, Greek, and Armenian artists to decorate his palace.

Among the masterpieces in the palace, there were antique paintings of Mohamed Ali Pasha and his family members. This palace also witnessed critical historical events that shaped the modern era in Egypt.

Restoration Works

The Egyptian authorities began a project to restore and rehabilitate the Palace of Mohamed Ali in Shubra, in March 2018, at an estimated cost of more than EGP 194m, through a cooperation protocol signed between the Ministry of Antiquities and the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces.

Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, said on 4 August that all conservation works in the Jabaliya kiosk building were completed, and 99% of the Fasqiah building restoration works were also finished.

The development plan also included linking the Palace with the Nile Marina to transport tourists to and from the area through a pedestrian bridge that was being implemented. The construction works of the Nile Marina and the pedestrian bridge started in January 2021. The implementation rate reached more than 96%.

Noteworthy, the palace underwent a previous restoration process under the rule of late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who opened it in 2005. The restoration project implemented by the Ministry of Culture, cost EGP 50m. The palace was then used in several official and private parties, but nine of its paintings were stolen. In 2009, the state recovered the stolen paintings. However, the palace was closed in 2011 after the 25 January Revolution.

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