Demolition of Tawfiq Andraos Palace
RESIDENTS of Luxor were kept awake at night on Monday as the Palace of Tawfiq Andraos overlooking the Nile was demolished. The palace had been standing since its construction in 1897 and relates to the history of its former owner’s family.
Andraos Bishara was one of the most prominent figures in Luxor in the early 20th century. Upon his arrival in Luxor from his hometown of Qus in the 1880s, he decided to build his family home in the precincts of the Luxor Temple with a view across the Nile to the Theban Necropolis. He invested part of his fortune in buying land that extended as far as the Colossi of Memnon on the west bank at Luxor. His son Tawfiq gradually became a key figure in the town and built his own house beside his father’s, which was earlier demolished.
The son’s palace was inhabited by the Andraos family until 2013 when the bodies of Tawfiq’s two daughters were found dead, believed to have been murdered, inside. Since then, the palace has been abandoned.
According to Tarek Lotfy, head of the Luxor City Council, the decision to demolish the palace was taken by the Luxor governorate as the committee assigned to investigate its condition had said the instability of its foundations made it a threat to the neighbouring Luxor Temple and pedestrians walking along the Nile corniche.
The committee said the building could collapse at any time. Lotfy said that two committees were supervising the demolition and removing any valuable items. Opponents of the demolition say that the palace should not have been demolished as it had a cultural and historic value, pointing out that it could have been restored.
“The palace is dilapidated and should be demolished,” said a government official who preferred anonymity, asserting that it was a real threat as in recent years it had been subjected to illegal excavations which had affected its foundations and spread cracks over its walls.
The palace was not listed on Egypt’s Heritage List. “It is not a monument,” he said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 August, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly