Édouard Louis Joseph, the Belgian Baron Empain, arrived in Egypt in 1904 with the intention of completing a railway project in the Nile delta. The plan fell through, but the Baron remained in Egypt. He was so enamored with the country that he established his own town on the outskirts of Cairo and named it Heliopolis.
The Baron was a millionaire, but he didn't need to reach deep into his pockets to find the funds for his own city; Heliopolis district today is a wealthy, bustling neighborhood in Greater Cairo. Its broad streets and architectural style are clearly the work of the Belgian engineer.
Given his immense wealth, eccentricities, and passion for 'the East,' the Baron built for himself an oriental fantasy palace--with Buddha statues, Islamic and Hindu motifs with inlaid ivory, and a remarkable collection of paintings and sculptures.
The mansion, partly modeled off of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, was completed in 1911.
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