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7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

When you think of palaces, European cities probably come to mind… and not Cairo per se. But it’s true, Cairo is home to quite a few beautiful palaces, ranging from medieval Islamic to Ottoman Baroque, French Rococo and even Hindu-inspired.

So if you’re looking for something different to explore in Cairo and love the architecture, art and history of palaces of the past, look no further than these seven palaces open to the public.

Abdeen Palace

Abdeen Palace. 7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

Location: Abdeen, Old Cairo

This palace turned museum was first built by Khedive Ismail in 1863, with the function of being governmental headquarters as well as the designated venue for official events and ceremonies. It was later a royal residence until the monarchy was abolished in 1952.

The museum today is divided into the upper floors, which used to be the living quarters of the royal family, and are now only open for visiting foreign dignitaries.

The lower floors hold the main sections of the museum: the Silver Museum, the Arms Museum, the Royal Family Museum, the Presidential Gifts Museum and the Historical Documents Museum.

Opening hours: 9 am - 3 pm (closed Fridays)

Cairo Marriott (Palace Al Gezirah)

Cairo Marriott Al Gezirah Palace. 7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

Location: Zamalek

At the Cairo Marriott Hotel in Zamalek, you can still find the original Palace Al Gezirah, built by Khedive Ismail over 150 years ago in 1869 to be a guest palace for foreign royalty and other VIPs visiting during the Suez Canal’s inauguration celebrations.

The Cairo Marriott that stands today is still the same palace that housed Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and hosted the wedding of Khedive Ismail’s son which lasted for 40 days; many of the original artwork and furniture can be found in the hotel’s reception rooms and lounges.

Khedive Ismail decided to design the palace in the neoclassical style which was popular in Europe at the time. He signed on Austrian architect Julius Franz (later known as Franz Bey) and French architect De Curel Del Rosso, who had also designed the Abdeen Palace. The interiors were done by German architect Carl von Diebitsch.

The two large Nile-facing towers of the hotel were added in the 1970s when the hotel was taken over by Marriott International.

For more about the Cairo Marriott and Egypt’s other historical hotels, head here.

Baron Empain Palace (Baron Palace)

Location: Heliopolis

This extremely distinct-looking palace is like nothing else Cairo (or the rest of Egypt for that matter) has to offer. Founded in 1907-1911, Baron Empain Palace (or as we locals call it, Baron Palace) was built to be the personal residence of the Belgian Baron Édouard Empain, who was credited for building the eastern Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis. Baron Palace’s design was inspired by the Hindu temples of South India and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and built by French architect Alexandre Marcel.

Today, Baron Palace is a newly renovated museum, where you can learn about the life of Baron Empain, early Heliopolis heritage and even the famous Heliopolis tram (an original tram car is on display in the garden, and you can learn about the Baron’s link to the trams inside the museum). You can access the rooftop via an extra ticket if you want more views from above.

Opening hours: 9 am - 4:30 pm

Manasterly Palace

Manasterly Palace. 7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

Location: Manial

This Ottoman baroque palace was built in 1851 by Hassan Fouad Pasha El-Manasterly, the governor of Egypt under the reign of Khedive Abbas Helmi. This one-story palace on the Nile island of Rawda Island (Manial) was built next to a Nilometer that dates back to 861 AD.

The palace now is still famous for its beautiful decor and ‘Ottoman Rococo’ influences. It has become a center of the arts and musical concerts are held there regularly.

You can take a virtual tour of Manasterly Palace and the Nilometer here, along with other amazing Egyptian virtual tours.

Opening hours: 9 am - 3 pm

Manial Palace (Mohamed Ali Palace)

Manial Palace. 7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

Location: Manial

This palace was built by Prince Mohamed Ali Tawfik, the first cousin of King Farouk, in 1875 and completed in 1929. The Islamic architectural style is a mix of Ottoman, Persian and Moorish, while the inner design is a marriage between European Nouveau and Rococo.

The palace is home to the prince’s extensive collection of art, furniture, clothing, silver and Medieval manuscripts from the Middle Ages. The ceramic tilework in the mosque and entrance was done by an Armenian ceramist.

Today the palace and its historical gardens as well as King Farouk’s hunting lodge are all part of a public museum.

Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm

Aisha Fahmy Palace

Location: Zamalek

Built in 1907, this palace overlooking the Nile was inherited by Aisha Fahmy, daughter of an Egyptian aristocrat and army chief under King Fuad. She was married to Egyptian actor and director Youssef Wahbi, and they lived together in the palace for many years. When she died in 1962, the palace went to the Ministry of Culture and is now a Center of Arts.

The palace is open to the public only during exhibitions. The two-storey palace was built by Italian architect Antonio Lasciac and has 30 rooms, two grand halls, a “Japanese room”, and is resplendent with European art. To find out when the next art exhibition is so you can visit the palace, you can check the Center of Arts’ Facebook page.

Beshtak Palace

Location: Moez Street, Old Cairo

Between 1334 and 1339 AD, the Mamluk emir (a powerful official or lord in the Mamluk dynasty) Seif el-Din Beshtak built a residence and stables on Moez Street, which is home to the highest concentration of medieval Islamic architectural treasures in the world. (For more info on everything you should visit in Moez Street, head to our detailed local’s guide here).

Originally 5 storeys high, this palace dedicated part of its ground floor to shops which would have supplemented the emir’s income. Only part of the palace still stands today, but you can still see its impressive reception hall, mashrabeya windows, marble indoor fountain and stained glass windows, a rare example of residential architecture at the time.

Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm, closed on Sundays

Bonus palace: El Sakakini Palace

El Sakakini Palace. 7 Beautiful Palaces in Cairo You Can Still Visit Today

El Sakakini Palace is not currently open to visitors unfortunately, but just seeing it from the outside is fun in and of itself. The palace was built in 1897 by Syrian Gabriel Habib El Sakakini, who moved to Egypt to make his fortune with the Suez Canal Company in Port Said. He later moved to Cairo where he built his French Rococo palace, which is still just as impressive to see 100+ years later.


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