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Antiquities | ECESR Challenges Government’s Decision to Reconsider Fouad Serag-Eldin Palace Antiquity Status

ECESR filed challenge 5036 of 69 judicially before the Administrative Court to oblige the government to list Fouad Serag-Eldin Palace as an antiquity. The government has refused to make that decision despite the availability of all the legal requirements to be considered an antiquity.

The regulations of Antiquities Authority stipulate three conditions for a building to be considered an antiquity. First, an antiquity is a building constructed 100 years or more ago and considered a product of artistic, scientific or religious values that developed on the land of Egypt.

It is worth mentioning that the palace was built in 1908 to its owner Carl Baerli, founder of the Crédit Fonsier égyptien bank—the first bank for mortgage financing in Egypt. Baerli bought the land from the Nile Co. for Agricultural Land in 1905 and then assigned the engineer Carlo Braumpaulini to design it in 1906. After the owner’s death, the palace was leased to the German Embassy in which the Emperor of Germany used to spend the winter. It was the habit of the world’s rich tycoons to come and spend most of the winter in Egypt. When the World War I broke out, the palace was put under sequestration until the Versailles Treaty signed in 1919. After that the palace was sold to a Swedish family which turned it to a boarding school to compete with Le Collège De La Mère de Dieu schools, the favorite schools for the upper class in Egypt. But the project failed. In 1930 Serag-Eldin Pasha bought the palace as a gift for his wife Zakeya Badrawi Hanim. His son Fouad lived in the palace until he died in 2000. The palace, the family home as they called it, consists of two floors and a basement. It is one of the most beautiful palaces in Garden City, overlooking the Nile and located in front of Nahhas Pasha Palace. The Palace is decorated with the finest Italian marble and stained glass windows, along with its antiquated elevator and a marble fireplace.

Second, an antiquity, according to the regulations, should have archaeological or artistic value or historical significance as a manifestation of the Egyptian civilization and other civilizations that built on the land of Egypt. The palace had hosted many concerts and parties in which Um-Kulthum and Abdel-Halim Hafez chanted their songs. It was visited by public figures such as King Farouk, Nahhas Pasha, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Anwar El-Sadat, and many others who played roles in the political and cultural life of Egypt. The palace’s owner did not mind filming some movies in his palace, the most famous of them was the Sunrise and Sunset movie. A novel about the palace titled “Family House” by Samia Serag-Eldin was published by Shorouq House. The novel describes the life in the palace.

The third condition, which is available in Fouad S.E. Palace, is that the antiquity should be constructed on the land of Egypt or has a historical connection with it.

The Palace is a witness to an important era in the history of modern Egypt. His owner is Fouad Serag-Eldin, a prominent politician who assumed several ministries including the Ministries of Agriculture, Interior, and Finance. After the 1952 Revolution, he cooperated with the Free Officers, but the honey moon was over after the nationalization of his properties except this palace. He was arrested twice and imprisoned for several months, and then put under sequestration and under house arrest in this palace.

This claim is one of many claims filed by ECESR in order to protect Egypt’s antiquities, which extend to different civilizations (Ancient Egyptian, Roman, Coptic, Islamic and modern) as well as valuable archaeological places such as palaces, museums and architectural styles constructed with methods belong to several technical schools. All these antiquities constitute a fortune and milestones in the Egyptian history.

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