The Zaafran Palace was built in reign of Khedive Ismail on the rubble of (Haswa Palace) which was built by Mohammed Ali, the founder of the modern Egyptian state; it consisted of five buildings, it was named (Haswa )relative to Abbasiyah area by that name. Until Abbas Pasha the 1st issued in 1851 to cancel the Haswa and reconstruct the area to become the Abbasia relating to him, in 1864 the Khedive Ismail bought Palace of Haswa by$ 250,000 piaster equivalent to 2,500 pounds, and re-build it to be a palace with its current form. The Khedive Commissioned the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf , the engineer/Al-Maghraby to supervise the construction, where he was among the engineering team dispatched by the Khedive to France, and nice coincidence that he is the grandfather of Dr. Saad Al-Maghraby ,former professor of Police Academy.
The palace was built as the sample of the Palace of Versailles in France, where the Khedive Ismail spent a period of his education, the Khedive has asked to carve his initials and his crown at the gate of the palace's Alehihah and entrances to the halls and rooms, and inscriptions still exist until now.
In 1872 Ismail gave the palace for his mother who was ill Ms. Khoshyar Hanim (thanks to her the Rifai mosque was built and located in front of Sultan Hassan school in the castle district) as a kind of hospital where doctors advised the fresh air so the palace was built among garden planted all with saffron plants of beautiful scent. And four years later in 1876 the palace was allocated to receive the son of Mustafa Pasha Fadel the brother of Khedive Ismail and the son of Ms. Khoshyar Hanim .the palace Remained just a place for residential for some family members of Muhammad Ali which the events made him a part of the history of Egypt, in 1882 and after the defeat of Orabi, and the arrival of England army to Cairo, Khedive Tawfiq requested from his grandmother Khoshyar Hanim to vacate the palace for a British officers, but they have set up to take over the palace and expelled the works of Hoshyar Hanim servants from it, instead of several months to evaluate where they had been scheduled long stay and spread until it reached five years.
The use of these officers of the palace was very bad they didn’t keep on its inscriptions on doors and vandalized rooms completely, and as soon as they left it, Prince Hussein Kamel ,Sultan of Egypt, asked later England commander to pay compensation for the duration of their stay in the palace as fifty pounds for each month but there are no documents that confirm that Englishmen paid such compensation.
In 1908 the Ministry of Education decided to create a high school by the name of the king of Egypt and has selected the Palace of Zaafaran to be a center for the school and the school named “Fouad the 1st” the king of Egypt visited it in December 1922 and returned back, Hafez Ibrahim wrote then a poem opening lines.
Oh’Zaafaran, you’re the real palace
Deserve to be arrogant to stars,
You’re a gift for all generation
As flowers for modern and ancient,
You were symbol of superiority
And glory but now you’re symbol and shelter for science.
And back together to the Zaafran palace to complete the story In 1952 “Fouad 1st” School was moved to the building in Abbassiya and replaced by Egyptian University management (Cairo University now), the university administration and the Faculty of Arts has Settled in the Palace, where was the office of Rector Ahmad Lutfi Pasha in the first floor, and the second floor was the office of the Faculty of Arts, The Faculty of Science has settled in the Annexes and housing dwellings After applying the necessary adjustments.
Egyptian university remained in the palace until the Egyptian university colleges had gradually moved to new headquarters in Giza.
The university administration Left the palace to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which bought it and made it the guesthouse where Egypt receive visitors from foreign kings and princes. One of the most important memories of the palace was signing of the Treaty of 1963, where we discover that the Egyptian leader, Mustafa Nahhas negotiated with the British High Commissioner, Lord Miles lampson, lord of Kilran in the corridors of the palace, the first letters were signed between Lampson and Nahhas and leaders of the treaty parties.
And the table, which was signed still in place, the main hall Salon, and around a crew of old golden chairs which are now about 120 years old.
The 1936 treaty was known in the literature and English documents to the day as the Treaty of Zaafaran in relation to the name of the palace.
In early 1952,it was decided to the palace to be headquarters to the University of "Ibrahim Pasha" and the Law School affiliate, vacated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and transferred all of its furniture, they notified to leave curtains and precious chandeliers which officials were afraid of being damaged or not suitable for use after its Dismantling and faculty of law settled in the first floor, while the university administration occupied the second and third floors, and then established the Faculty of Science and the subsequent buildings for other colleges, Law, Arts and subsequent of the university administration and other university buildings, and this was in the space surrounding the palace from all over.
On 29 December 1985 Zaafaran Palace were registered within the Islamic monuments as a relic of history that witnessed the facts of Egypt's modern and contemporary history.
Ain Shams University has focused on renovating this great monument by cooperation with the Antiquities Authority, and assigned the restoration work to Professor Dr Farooq Al-Gohary, professor at the Faculty of Engineering (Department of Architecture) and Vice President of the former University president, and began the process of restoration and maintenance in 1922, taking into account palace personality retention, architectural, archaeological and artistic.
The palace Description
the palace consists of three floors, the first floor is the reception and has a main hall to the left and beside halls reception is dedicated now to University Board meetings, and on the right table room was located and its capacity was Nine forty people and now it is allocated for headquarters for vice rector meetings.
When we look ahead, we find large lobby with a bilateral and historical luxury peace which made of copper and coated with gold.
Professor Dr Farooq Al-Gohary says when the process of restoration began, the erosion that has affected the palace was very great addition to neglecting factors suffered by it as a result of use, made sure when restoration return this Great monument to the custody of the first when it was built, ceils have distinctive and unified character which is about beautiful skies, but for the decorations and inscriptions were returned as they were before, and for the large Stairs in the lobby is made of copper, which is the only peace in Egypt, that has this amount of copper and there is no instance of it in any other palace.
If we look up the Stairs, we find an area covered with crystal glass stained with bright balloon reflecting on peace colors of the bright sky, and Dr Al-Gohary completed Speaking to interleave glass here was done by pencil and this art came from Europe at the beginning of Renaissance in the nineteenth century, and was used gypsum is common in it’s time to interleave glass, especially in Islamic art.
For wooden doors, we found that its heights of up to 4 m and ceilings up to 6.m. This increase helps to work a huge vacuum forgotten natural air conditioning due to the lack of electric air conditioning at that time and the palace is an architectural great masterpiece must be maintained because if we tried to imitate such a palace, it could reach about $280 to 350 million pounds.
The Palace combines Gothic and Baroque styles.
And leave the repair work and complete modern description of the palace, we find that the palace includes between the first and second floor in the back of a winter garden and next to it colored glass wall that glass reflects all the colors on the flowers and garden plants. This park has been established internal to enjoy the view of the flowers in the winter, in the case of not being able to go out to the outer gardens of the palace.
When climbing to the second floor, we found that it includes 8 bedrooms each room attached with a salon to receive visitors in case you cannot get off the floor to bottom and attached also a large Turkish bath which is made of marble and provided by small balls small stained glass makes the bathroom seem lighted with natural light. These rooms are used now for the offices of the university president and his deputies.
Professor D. Ahmed Abdel Razek ,deputy of faculty of arts tells us about the most important characteristic Bedrooms is the dome that mediates the room and colored sky, has been developed designer palace old dome above the bed to sleep because it is said: The Khedive liked to look at the sky when he is lying on his back before going to sleep.
It is also said when Louis IX ,the king of France returned back to his country after his capture in Dar Ibn Luqman in Mansoura ,he had said: he remembers the charm and beauty of East when he sees the glass adored bright colors, and adds Professor D. Ahmed Abdel Razek that this palace combines between two models :Gothic, Baroque and the two are used in many of the palaces of the nineteenth century.
He also added that all decorations in the palace were gilded and doctrine used here is the English gold but the gold that was used was the French and due to its high price last used English in the restoration.
Finally we come to the third floor and was allocated to members of the Retinue and servants, and now uses some administration offices, affiliated offices university president and his deputies have built this palace square on acre ,The gardens that were around it extends about 100 acres in addition to the Winter Gardens within the palace.
Here the story of Zaafran Palace ends as we told it to the new generations of young people, to know how this palace turned into a beacon of science and knowledge (Ain Shams University) to rise above the slogan University (obelisk and two hawks) and two of the sanctities of the ancient Egyptians.
The Zaafran Palace costs of 280-350 million pounds if we tried to build it now.