The 19th century palace of Prince Omar Toson in the north Cairo district of Shubra escaped damage by fire two days ago. As flames leapt from the building, three fire trucks headed there to rescue the architectural gem. Fortunately, however, the fire was confined to a few rooms built at the far end of the palace grounds, but did not reach the palace itself. The rooms belong to the Ministry of Education and were used to store used old desks, tables, and furniture.
The palace is a 3,200-square metre building on two storeys, with an arcade façade and a long terrace on its upper floor. It was built in 1868 for Prince Omar Toson, who also designed the building. The palace features ceilings finely decorated with golden foliage.
After the 1952 revolution and the abolition of the monarchy and nobility, the royal palace moved into the hands of the government and was converted into a school. The area around its grounds today houses four public schools.
In 1984 the palace was taken away from the Ministry of Education and declared a heritage site. As such, it was placed under the supervision of the antiquities ministry, and in 2010 a restoration project was scheduled to restore the palace jointly with French effort, but the Arab Spring uprising and the turmoil which followed halted the plan. The restoration plan involved using the palace to house the archive of Egypt’s more-than-100-year-old film industry, and the Egyptian cinematheque.
17 May 2015