Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism has announced a range of ticket prices for visiting Heliopolis’ iconic Baron Empain Palace.
The historic building, still under renovation but soon to be complete, will be for the first time open to the general public.
Recently, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, headed by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, indicated that there would be a two-ticket system for visiting the site: a general palace ticket and one to the roof of the Baron Empain palace.
The tickets for the palace are 100 EGP (6.3 US$) for foreigners, 50 for foreign students (3 US$), 20 EGP (1.2 US$) for Egyptians and 10 EGP (0.6 US$) for Egyptian students; they give access to the interior of the palace and the outdoor garden space in which lies the recently allocated tramway.
Alternatively, the additional ‘Panorama ticket’ of the palace, giving a strong view overlooking Heliopolis – namely the Sultanah Palace and Al Orouba street- will be for 50 EGP (3 US$) for foreign visitors and 20 EGP (1.2 US$) for Egyptian nationals.
Although the palace’s opening has been delayed several times, officials have stated that more than 90 percent of the structure’s renovation has been completed.
In 2019, Egypt and Belgium have signed a memorandum of understanding granting the palace EGP 16 million as additional funding for the restoration work.
The latter is meant at not only revamping the physical entity of the palace but also to turn the monument into an edutainment site where Heliopolis’ history would be highlighted through the exhibition of photographs, maps, archival documentation and films.
The palace, a solitary structure among the concrete buildings of the neighborhood, was a special construction project by Edouard Empain. The latter, a Belgian engineer, was the mastermind behind Heliopolis which had been originally intended as a lush spot in the northeast of the largely desert-like capital, mimicking the ambiance of the French riviera.
Empain arrived in 1904 to Egypt; he launched his company in the hopes of creating a railway that would ambitiously connect Mansoura to Matariya. After losing the railway contract, Empain stayed in Cairo and created the district we now know as Heliopolis (City of the Sun in Greek).
The palace specifically, one of many commissioned to Orientalist architect Alexander Marcel, was a symphony of orientalist motifs from Asia. Its outside structure is replete with decorative elements such as Shivas, twisting serpents, elephants and peacocks as well as avatars of Vishnu.
It was also one of the very first in the country to include an elevator.