By Shady Roshdy
Luxor, Egypt, Nov 2 (EFE).- The Winter Palace in Luxor, a mesmerizing and atmospheric luxury hotel on the banks of the river Nile, is marking the 100-year anniversary of one of the most important events in the colonial gem’s history: the discovery of pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Built in 1886, the hotel is located just steps from the Luxor Temple and was designed as the winter palace of Tawfiq Pasha, who ruled Egypt from 1879 to 1892, but over time it became a hub to English and French archaeologists as interest in the wonders of Ancient Egypt grew.
“One of the most important events at the hotel was the announcement of the most outstanding discovery in the world, the tomb of Tutankhamun,” Wesam Farah, customer service director at the Sofitel Winter Palace, tells Efe.
English Egyptologist Howard Carter unveiled his colossal discovery to the world within the decadent complex on November 4, 1922.
LINKS WITH A PHARAOH
During his presentation, Carter was joined by a photographer from the British Museum and staged his historic announcement at the hotel’s main entrance where journalists huddled around the imperial staircase on the banks of the Nile.
From that moment, the sandy-colored Winter Palace became forever linked to the ‘child pharaoh.’
“After the discovery, Carter frequently stayed at the hotel in a room with a view of the Nile” even though he had a house across the river from Luxor city, Farah adds.
The hotel was also the permanent residence of Carter’s patron Lord Carnarvon.
The hotel’s Victorian English architecture with opulent interiors, swirling staircases and high ceilings adorned with ornate floral moldings is an exquisite example of a decadent colonial aesthetic.
The building has hosted many European and Middle Eastern royals and became a meeting place between archaeologists and high-ranking Egyptian government officials to discuss excavation projects.
Farah takes Efe through the hotel’s lavish chambers and says Carter’s discovery has been immortalized by naming one of the luxury suites after him.
Carnarvon’s suite was named after his daughter, Lady Evelyn, who became one of the first people to see Tutankhamun’s treasure.
The two rooms were restored in a Victorian style in 2006 after the hotel underwent extensive modernization in 1991.
“The hotel’s team of architects have designed a mock-up of a large book that tells the story of the discovery alongside the history of the hotel’s construction,” explains Farah.
The manager adds that the three-story building with 92 rooms is getting ready for the high season when tourists will join the centenary celebrations of the Tutankhamun discovery.
The majority of the hotel’s visitors, many of whom are British, flock to the Winter Palace to basque in the atmospheric surroundings steeped in history.EFE