Arts & Entertainment

Exotic Cairo palace opens to public after decades of neglect

By Francesca Cicardi

Cairo, Jun 30 (efe-epa).- Cairo’s Baron Palace, which has the shape of a Hindu temple and a luxurious interior, has opened to the public as a museum after decades of inexplicable neglect.

The restoration of the site, which was built in the early 20th century and comprises of a main building and a tower, began three years ago.

With decorations inspired by elements of Khmer or Cambodian architecture, the palace provoked both admiration and rumors about it being inhabited by spirits and other beings.

But it was birds and bats that sought shelter in the building before they were expelled when experts started renovation work in 2017.

The palace was damaged despite having a concrete skeleton, something unusual when it was built between 1907 and 1911.

French architect Alexandre Marcel, who rose to fame for his designs in the 1900 Paris Exposition, designed the two-floor palace.

It has a large terrace adorned with statues and shrines that can be accessed through a steep wooden spiral staircase, which has also been restored.

The palace served as the residence of Belgian Baron Edouard Empain, who decided in 1906 to build the Heliopolis neighborhood on 2,500 hectares of desert, away from central Cairo.

The planning of the then-newborn neighborhood was European but had a more oriental architectural style in which Islamic and Asian elements are mixed.

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