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Al-Manasterly Palace: music in a superb setting.

Summary: CAIRO - Manasterly Palace on Manial el-Roda Island, where the Cultural Development Fund's International Music Centre holds its concerts of chamber music and recitals by renowned singers and musicians, is one of the finest historical buildings in Cairo.

This wonderful palace, built in 1851, is situated in the south-western corner at the end of Manial al-Roda Island, where it can also be accessed on foot from the Corniche by a contemporary elegant iron bridge.

It is the remaining part of a development built by Hassan Fouad Al-Manasterly Pasha, whose name is a derivative of the city of Monastir in Macedonia near the Bulgarian borders.

Hassan Pasha was Egyptian Minister of the Interior in the reign of Khedive Abbas Helmi II. He became Cairo's governor in 1854, representative in the Ministry of Interior and then supervisor of the Ministry of Interior. His mosque where he is buried is situated near the palace.

The palace entrance is a huge rectangular hall, which directly opens onto the outside leafy terrace overlooking the River Nile at the tip of the island through doors in the southeastern wall up marble steps.

The terrace extends to the north-eastern and the palace's present main gate, located in the north-western side. The second hall is located to the west of the main hall and has been divided into three halls. Rooms opening onto the hall include a vintage bathroom with its original fittings.

The splendid palace is known for its late Baroque wooden ceilings of various designs including domes and semi-domes. The ceilings are plastered and garnished with coloured ornamentation and forms of greenery. The terraces have been similarly covered and protected from the rain, although open externally.

Additionally, the splendid ceilings and walls are decorated with foliage and figures of birds. The influence of Ottoman Rococo on European-style buildings of that period is evident while there is a highly discernible neo-Pharonic impact on the promenade at the external fronts of the palace, which internally contains fine marbled and parquet flooring

In 1989, the palace was put on Egypt's antiquities list and in the early 2000s it was opened by the Cultural Development Fund as the International Musical Centre for the performance of concerts and lectures.

The International Music Centre has established a high reputation with its audiences for its Egyptian and international concerts. Each concert is not only an opportunity to indulge in the finest music but a chance to enjoy the performances in these extremely attractive surroundings.

In order to add more pleasure for the visitor, one can get there a little early and have the chance to visit the historic Nilometer as it stands just in front of the entrance to the palace. It is a unique historical site and one of the oldest structures often overlooked by visitors, dating back to AD 861 and was built during in the reign of Abbasside Caliph al-Mutawakkil. (There is another Nilometer in Aswan on Elephamtine Island facing the east bank of the town, where the Ferial Garden and Cataract hotel are situated).

These gauges of the water level were originally introduced in Pharaonic times and continued to be used over the centuries.

In the 20th century, the Nile's annual flood began to witness gradual reductions in level when first the Aswan Dam, and then finally the High Dam in the 1960s, were constructed with the flood ceasing after the vast High Dam Lake extending 500 kilometres to Wadi Halfa in Sudan filled and the level of the Nile in Egypt was artificially controlled.

In the palace grounds there is also a museum dedicated to the legendary Um Kolthoum, an internationally famous Egyptian singer, songwriter and film actress of the 1930s to the 1970s. Known as Kawkab al-Sharq (Star of the East), more than three decades after her death in 1975, she is still widely regarded as the greatest Arabic female singer in history.

The museum, which was opened in 2001, housed in a pavilion on the grounds of Cairo's Manesterly Palace the collection includes a range of Umm Kulthum's personal possessions, including her trademark sunglasses and scarves, along with photographs, recordings, and other archival material.

The Manesterly Palace is located at 1 Malek el-Saleh Street, Manial el-Roda Island. The Nilometer and the Um Kolthoum museum are accessible through the Palace gates. Entrance tickets are available at the Manesterly Palace entrance. Concert tickets are also available at the reception of the Cultural Development Fund's premises on the Cairo Opera House grounds at the far end from the main gates beside the car park.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Jul 31, 2013
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