abdeen palace
Abdeen Palace

Hands down one of the most well-known royal residences in all of Egypt, Abdeen Palace was one the primary seat of governance spanning from 1874 until the iconic 23rd revolution in 1952 that brought in a new form of military reign in Egypt. In fact, it marked the first occurrence since the time of the Ayyubid dynasty that a ruler of Egypt leaves behind the protection of his military fortress and moves the seat of government to the middle of Cairo amongst the rest of the population. Following the revolution, the palace ended up becoming one of the multiple presidential palaces.

History of Abdeen Palace

Abdeen Palace is situated in the heart of Cairo. It was established by Khedive Ismail himself after he purchased it following the passing of its owner. He ended up annexing hundreds of acres and commissioned the construction of this palace to be the official place of government. The Abdeen Palace is important because it essentially marks the onset of a new era of a contemporary Cairo. 

The lavish palace was constructed as a part of the Khedive’s larger very ambitious plan to cultivate a modernized Cairo on par with other European cities. Upon taking power in Egypt in 1863, he commanded the founding of the palace. Abdeen Palace gets its name from Abdeen Bey, one of Mohammad Ali Pasha’s most famous military commanders. He actually used to reside there. After his death, Khedive Ismail purchased the palace from the commander’s widow. He completely renovated and expanded the area to be a whopping 24 acres and constructed the current Abdeen Palace we see today. It ended up being one of Egypt’s most striking architectural marvels. It took a total of some ten years to complete the construction of the Abdeen palace. 

Abdeen Palace Design and Features

The palace features a staggering 500 rooms, as well as a massive library containing more than 55 thousand books in total. Among these 500 rooms, the most significant of them is known as the White Salon. Other notable rooms include King Farouk’s office, the Suez Canal salon, the Byzantine hall, the throne hall and the billiard room. This billiard room was actually gifted by Empress Eugenie to Khedive Ismail. Other important rooms include the Haramlek suite, which is brimming with invaluable antiques, figures, textiles and watches embellished with the finest gold. The Abdeen Palace also has the King Farouk Pavilion and the Crown Prince Pavilion. 

The opulent Palace is a stunning representation of European architecture in Egypt. It was designed by the famous architect Rousseau hailing from France. He designed it to be similar to the European palace at that time. Khedive Ismail hired a handful of famous architects from all corners of the world to complete the palace before the official opening of the Suez Canal back in 1869. However, this goal was a bit too ambitious and the massive palace was eventually completed in 1874.

The Palace is also lauded for its intricate Italian, Turkish, and French styles and embellishments. A long with the treasure trove of historical furnishing and rooms, the Abdeen Palace features a wealth of rare paintings and dazzling gold-gilded furnishings.  

The World of Museums within Abdeen Palace

Abdeen Palace is not just a breathing historical structure; it actually encompasses four distinct museums covering different aspects of its rich history.

abdeen palace
Abdeen Palace

Arms Museum 

One of the most opulent museums inside, the descendants of Khedive Ismail took grate care of it and worked avidly to preserve it. It is comprised of two distinct sections. 

The white weapons area features extremely rare weapons that were created by skilled craftsmen from all across different countries and territories across the Islamic world and Europe. Not just geographically diverse, the weapons here hail from a number of different eras and period. Here you will find everything from swords to military-grade shields embellished with the finest silver, ivory, diamonds and a cornucopia of precious stones. A unique collection of Muhammad Ali Pasha’s swords and daggers are displayed here. In terms of foreign rulers, you can even find the sword of Napoleon Bonaparte and a dagger belonging to German commander Rommel. The Arms museum was built by King Farouk himself and showcases weapons like guns that belong to him as well as a diversity of firearms that cannot be found anywhere else. The exhibition has items that span from the 17th century all the way to the 19th century.

Another part is the Defender Square which is an open-air exhibit showcasing a diversity of fort and field cannons from the Muhammad Ali period and beyond, with most being manufactured in the 19th century. 

Museum of Medals and Badges

In this royal acquisition section, visitors can look at a number of rare collectibles and antiques. This includes a stunning sword decorated with rare precious stones. This actually used to be the sword that Russian emperors used for coronation. It was initially crafted in Germany and was later bought by King Farouk in an international auction. 


This is one of the most recent addition to the Abdeen Palace, only being established in 1998. Just as its name suggests, this museum features numerous silverware antiques that once belonged to the royal family of Mohamed Ali himself. This museum was established as way to preserve the family’s special belongings with rare antiques made of gold, silver and crystals dazzling he space. Here you will find many tools and utensils that were used by the royal family to dine. A long with these personal possessions, the museum also has on display a number of lavish gifts given to the royal family by foreign dignitaries and other members of the elite ruling classes. 

Historical Documents Museum

This is a treasure for history buffs with a number of important even secret documents that span the history of Egypt on display here. It is the latest to be established, opening its doors in 2004. Come here to feast your eyes on historic documents from the period of Muhammad Ali Pasha all the way to King Farouk.