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Monday, 20 May 2019

Heliopolis' Baron Palace to be put back on Egypt's tourism map

Iconic landmark on Cairo's outskirts will soon be reopened to public after planned restoration work, conversion into international culture centre

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 29 Apr 2012
baron empain palace
Views: 5174
Views: 5174

On Cairo's Al-Orouba Street in Heliopolis lays the gigantic Baron Empain Palace, with its distinctive and historic architecture inspired by Cambodia's celebrated Angkor Wat temple. Despite its distinct architecture and importance as a historical landmark, the palace has remained closed for decades, far removed from Egypt’s tourism map.

On Sunday, following a brief meeting between Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim and Belgian ambassador to Egypt Bruno Néve de Mevergnies, however, the palace now appears set to return to its former glory.

In collaboration with the Belgian government, a comprehensive restoration project for the palace is to be carried out imminently with the aim of transforming it into an international cultural centre.

Ibrahim told Ahram Online that a small museum relating the history of Heliopolis from 1907 to 1911 – the period in which the palace was built – would be set up in the centre. Documents and rare books from the same era will also be exhibited. A small jewellery museum, a ceremonial hall and a meeting room are also in the works.

Mohsen Sayed Ali, head of the ministry's Coptic and Islamic Antiquities department, explained that the palace's walls would be restored, cracks filled up and decorations polished.

The Baron Empain Palace, or the Palais Hindou as it was previously known, was built by Belgian industrialist Baron-General Edouard Louis Joseph Empain, the son of a village schoolteacher who became one of Europe's greatest colonialist entrepreneurs of the 20th century. The palace was designed by French architect Alexandre Marcel, and decorated by Georges-Louis Claude.

Empain came to Egypt in 1904 with his company, in hopes of building a railway linking Mansoura to Matariya.  Although his company ultimately lost the railway contract, Empain nevertheless stayed on in Egypt. In 1906, he established the Cairo Electric Railway and Heliopolis Oasis Company, and soon after began construction of the new town of Heliopolis – now one of Cairo's most elegant suburbs.

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02-11-2013 10:03am
Baron Empain
Empain was born in Beloeil , Belgium, and was the son of a teacher François Julien Empain and his wife Catherine (nee Solivier ). He went into business with his brother, Baron François Empain and other family members , and has amassed a large fortune.Empain began his career as a cartoonist in a metallurgical company, Metallurgical Society in 1878 and became involved in the construction of the railway when he noticed that the transport infrastructure in the country has been inadequate. After the success in Belgium with the Liège- Jemeppe line , its companies have developed several lines of railway in France , including the creation of the Paris Metro .Because he felt he was too dependent on banks for its industrial projects, in 1881 he founded his own bank , Bank Empain, who later became the Belgian Industrial Bank ("Industrial Bank of Belgium "). The Empain group companies greatly expanded during the 1890s, electric tramlines urban construction in Europe , Russia , China, the Belgian Congo , and Cairo, Egypt. Desiring to be as independent power producers, Empain also involved in the formation of a number of utilities for power projects.
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