Built by Mohamed Aly in 1814 essentially as a private residence, this palace also housed his guests and various administrative offices. The palace, which is currently being renovated (section by section so as to keep it open to visitors), is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture with strong European influences.
The palace was named for Gawhara Hanem, the last of Mohamed Aly’s wives. The name has often led people to think that it housed jewels. An attempted theft in 1972 resulted in a fire that practically gutted the building.
Right outside the entrance is possibly Cairo’s most spectacular view of Islamic Cairo.
The entrance holds an enormous gilt and marble mirror – when going in to see the Mohamed Aly, you were best off making sure that you looked your best.
Upstairs you can take in the enormous gilt throne which was a present from the King of Italy. Family portraits adorn the walls, chandeliers hang from the ceilings and marble staircases are winged by flying angels.
The Royal bedroom indicates that the Aly must have been a little on the short side. It didn’t hold him back, apparently. He established sole control in Egypt by inviting 470 Mamelukes to a feast and then promptly having them shot on their way out. Legend has it that only one of them escaped, by leaping his horse over the rampart and jumping off right before it crashed. Apparently, he escaped with a broken ankle.
The horse wasn’t so lucky.