Cairo’s 109-Year-Old Hindu-Style Palace Opens for Visitors

CAIRO, EGYPT, July 1, 2020 : Mysteries and superstitious tales surrounding an Indian-style mansion in an upscale Cairo district have finally been put to bed as the 109-year-old palace opened to visitors for the first time on Tuesday following an $11 million restoration project. Named after the millionaire Belgian industrialist who was its original owner, the neglected Baron Empain Palace was rumored to be home to ghosts, with occasional tales of lights flashing inside. Also common were rumors of hidden tunnels and a rotating tower that offered a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and allowed the palace to be exposed to constant sunlight.

Baron Edouard Louis Joseph Empain, a famed businessman credited with the construction of the Paris metro in the late 19th century, resided in the palace he built in 1911 before developing the surrounding area from a sprawling desert into what is now known as Heliopolis, an upscale east Cairo neighborhood. The two-story mansion, designed by French architect Alexandre Marcel and made from reinforced concrete, was modeled on Hindu-style temples, with its exterior adorned by statues of Hindu and Buddhist legends and elephants. Visitors who entered the castle for the first time Tuesday were bursting with excitement as they roamed around, posing for photographs and inspecting the palace’s interiors as well as its vast roof that used to host Empain’s parties.

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