This often-overlooked gem is as much a piece of art as it is a museum. Located in downtown Cairo on Manial island, the palace was the estate of Prince Mohammed Ali Tawfik who designed and oversaw the construction of this palace turned monument between 1899 and 1929.
The prince envisioned the palace to be a work of art, and his taste for architecture was clearly broad and varied. The six structures of the estate include styles as diverse as European Art Noveau, Rococo, Moorish, Ottoman, and Persian, just to name a few. One of the more impressive elements of the palace is that every one of the 35 ceilings is distinct from each other, and all are worth craning your neck to see. But it’s not just the architecture that is noteworthy; the estate is known for its extensive and exotic gardens as well.
Within the six buildings of the estate, visitors can explore the prince’s residence, the reception hall, the clock tower, the mosque, the throne room, the golden hall, the private museum, the sabil (or fountain), and a hunting museum, which was added later in 1963.
The prince’s residence, one of the original components of the estate, consists of a dining room, a fireplace room, several salons, and numerous other beautifully decorated rooms that visitors can wander through. It is worth noting that the prince had always intended for the palace to be viewed as a monument rather than an actual residence, and thus is part of the reason so many different styles and motifs are presented together within his estate. This mix of styles can be seen between the throne room, where an Ottoman style prevails, the mosque, which has a Moroccan flair contrasted with a rococo style ceiling, and several halls that are decorated with stained-glass windows reminiscent of European design.
While the architecture and design of the estate is truly remarkable in its diversity, the displays, furniture, clothing, art, and medieval manuscripts that are housed within are just as impressive to see, making this museum a worthwhile visit while in Cairo.