Heliopolis Baron Empain Hindu Palace In Egypt about Wealth, Power, and a Haunted Place. Walking tour

Heliopolis Baron Empain Hindu Palace In Egypt about Wealth, Power, and a Haunted Place. Walking tour

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The Hindu Palace of Baron Empain in Cairo This tour is about a historical architectural  masterpiece in Cairo, Egypt. Baron Empain Palace   known as Le Palais Hindu or literally the Hindu  Palace. It is located in Heliopolis district   of Cairo Heliopolis is a neighborhood located  about 20 kilometers to the northeast of Cairo.   Heliopolis suburb also known as Masr EL Gedida  or New Egypt was established around 1907   by the owner of the palace the Belgian  industrialist Édouard Louis Joseph.   The Baron Empain Palace was established on  about 12,500 square meters and it is located   on the famous highway of Auroba street  that leads to Cairo International Airport The visitors entrance and ticket  office are on Ibn Batota street After the recent renovations, a tramway  trolley was installed here as a reminder   that Baron Empain introduced the  tramway to the Heliopolis area The Hindu inspired Palace was established  between 1907 and 1911 by Édouard Louis Joseph It is a distinct building with  a unique architectural design   that you do not see anywhere else in Egypt The palace style, location, and size  reflect the status Baron Empain used to have   back in the beginnings of the 20th century  in Egypt. With its unique appearance,   the palace is a head turner on one of the  most important roads in Cairo. The palace  

consists of three floors and a roof it is also  surrounded by a large garden from all sides The basement contained the residence area for the  servants and staff. Baron Empain lived between   September 1852 and July 1929. The baron was a  wealthy Belgian businessman and industrialist. In the past, the large entrance  garden used to have many exotic   and unique plants. It also  had many busts and statues

The tourism and antiquities ministry  added a couple of classic cars to be   exhibited at the entrance to reflect  the time when the palace was alive The palace architecture is inspired  by Hindu Indian and Cambodian temples The tower and exterior designs have similarities  to the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia The palace architecture is also  inspired by Indian temples of Adisha,   a state located in the east of India.  We can see here the similarities to the   Lingaraja Temple. It is a Hindu temple  in Odisha that is dedicated to Shiva The building is decorated with many  statues inspired by Hindu deities   looking like snakes, Buddhas, Shivas,  Krishnas, Elephants, and other Hindu deities Other statues are unique pieces of art that were  especially imported for the palace from Europe.   This marble statue of Narcissus  for example was made by French   architect French Architect Antoine  Garnaud who lived from 1796 to 1861. Dragon like creatures statues stand as guards at  the entrance. These are also inspired by Hindu   and Buddhist temples in India and Southern Asia.  The tower of the palace stands tall and unique.  

It was said that it was built on a  rotating base but that is not true. This seven-headed statue is a  depiction of the Asian deity Naga.   Naga is a half-human half-serpent being  that can occasionally take human form,   animal form, or both. Naga beings have been known  for over two thousand years in mythological South   Asian and South East Asian cultures, including  Hinduism and Buddhism. You can see here   a similar statue on the right side from  Cambodian Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Naga beings are known as guardians and  protectors of treasures and others. Two of these Roman style statues at the  entrance, are made by the sculptor Charles   Cordier who lived between 1827 and 1905. The  missing heads may have been made of bronze.

On this plate above the main entrance  we see this piece of art called   Temptation of Buddha. It shows the  demon Mara trying to disrupt Buddha's   meditation to achieve enlightenment by  tempting him with her beautiful daughters As we go through the main entrance, we  are welcomed with a set of boards showing   information about the original owner of this  palace Baron Empain and his Hindu Palace origins. Édouard Louis Joseph, or Baron Empain,  was born in 1852 in Belœil, Belgium.   He started his career as a draftsman at a  company called Société métallurgique in 1878. He developed experience in railway construction  projects in Belgium and started his own companies. Baron Empain started companies that developed  railway lines in France and the Paris metro He even started his own bank in 1881 Banque  Empain, which later became the Belgian Industrial   Bank, ("Banque Industrielle Belge"). He also  became a Major General during World War I.

Baron Empain expanded his  business during the 1890s   starting tram lines in Europe,  Russia, China, the Belgian Congo,   and Egypt. He also owned a number of  electricity and power generating companies. He arrived in Egypt in 1904 intending to work on  some of his projects. He eventually established   the Cairo Electric Railways and Heliopolis Oases  Company in 1906. He partnered with Boughos Nubar   Pasha, the businessman and son of Egyptian Prime  Minister at the time. This helped him get twenty   five thousand square kilometers allocated in the  desert to the east of Cairo. This was to establish   a new district or city. Baron Empain then started  planning for the new district, Heliopolis which is  

named after the ancient Egyptian city that means  city of the sun. It was like ancient Egyptian   glory is resurrected all over again in the form  of this modern and luxurious district of Cairo.   The Baron started hiring a team of  professionals for the big project.   The French architect Alexandre Marcel who  lived between 1860 and 1928 was hired as   an architect for the project, and was also  responsible for the design of this palace.   Alexandre Marcel also designed the catholic  basilica in Heliopolis. He also has a list  

of famous buildings and projects in France  and Brussels. George Closson, is another   French architect on the team and an assistant of  Alexandre Marcel. He lived between 1865 and 1949. The baron also made sure that his brother   Francois Empain was on the board of  the company managing the project.   He was also a shareholder partner and a director  in many of the Baron Empain other companies. We can see here part of the original embossed  art decorations on the wooden wall coverings. It  

reflects the European style and nature landscaping  showing animals, trees, and plant decorations This is Habib Youssef, the only Egyptian architect  on the team. He lived between 1876 and 1956.   He participated in the design of many  buildings and residence homes in the new   district of Heliopolis his sons Charles  and Max continued their father's legacy   and participated in the design  and development of Heliopolis In 1907 the work commenced through Cairo  Electric Railways and Heliopolis Oases   Company to build a new suburb in  the desert to the east of Cairo. Many landmarks and famous buildings were  constructed including the Heliopolis Palace Hotel,   a sporting club, and other recreational  amenities including a racetrack,   a park, and a golf course.  Houses were built for rent.  

This included villas apartment buildings and  more economic cheaper residence buildings. Heliopolis was also built with high quality  utilities including water, sewage, electricity   infrastructure in addition to the tramway that  was the backbone of the transportation system Heliopolis became famous for its wide streets,   roads, large parks, elegant shopping  areas, and quiet residential streets. Heliopolis became home for  aristocratic class of Egyptians   as well as many non-Egyptians living in Egypt. The ground floor of the palace was  designed to have a reception room,   a billiard room, and a dining room. Baron Empain fell in love with Egypt  and decided to stay with his family   in the newly constructed palace.

Baron Empain expanded his business across  the world. He founded about 108 companies   in 13 countries across four continents.  Fourteen of these companies were in Egypt.  Baron Empain had two children Jean Louis  Lain Empain lived between 1902 to 1946   and Louis Jean Lin Empain,  who lived from 1908 to 1976. When the Baron died, they inherited about  6 billion French Francs which is equivalent   to about 1 Billion Euros in 1929. This is  equivalent to about 20 Billion Euros today. The Baron title continued through the family   it started by the King of Belgium Leopold  the 2nd granting the honoring title to   Édouard Empain in 1907 who became the 1st Baron  Empain. The title moved by inheritance. It was  

taken over by his sons Jean Empain and Louis  Jean Empain as the second generation Barons.   The title then moved to Edward Jean Empain, the  third Baron Empain, who lived from 1937 to 2018.   Finally, it went to Jean Francois Empain  the 4th Baron Empain ( He was born in 1964). Edouard Jean Empain, the third Baron  Empain was the CEO of Schneider Group.   He was a well-known heir to a substantial fortune  in Europe. He became the subject of a famous and  

violent kidnapping case in 1978. The kidnapping  happened in Paris, France where he used to live.  The kidnappers kept him for 63 days.  They even cut his finger and sent it   to his family to show they were serious  about the ransom they were asking for.  

The ransom demanded was 80 million French  Francs. The police was eventually able to   kill a kidnapper, and to arrest another.  The Baron was later found safe and alive.   This incident left a devastating impact on the  Baron and his family for the rest of his life. The palace was eventually sold by the  owners in 1957. It was left empty until 2005   when the government took over the palace  and eventually compensated the owners.  

After it was sold in 1957 it went into decades  of dark ages. Many of its interiors were ripped,   the building started deteriorating over the  years, and many weird and scary stories started   surfacing about the haunted palace of Heliopolis. The palace became a deserted creepy place   it started attracting different types of visitors  including stray animals, and burglars who saw an   opportunity to take away some of the expensive  parts of the interior fixings and decorations.

Many of the expensive floorings  and mirrors were stolen.   The bathrooms and ceiling decorations were  damaged, many of which had been made especially   for the palace or even specially customized  or had the Baron's initials embossed on them. The palace became infested with a large  number of bats. These bats took the palace  

as their home for decades. Other insects  and animals called the basement home.   The surrounding gardens became so damaged  they looked like a scene of a cursed land   in a horror movie full with dead trees and  plants, and scary-looking mythical creatures. The palace attracted groups of drug  addicts, and even Satan worshippers.   They committed black magic gatherings,  and animal sacrifice rituals.  

At some point the mirrors were stained with  blood color as reported by some sources.  These activities in addition to the regular  scenes of scores of bats around the place   made it a rich source for even more creepy stories Some security guards reported seeing ghosts   or shadows moving in the palace  with voices of cries and screams. There are also some reports about  lights turning on and off abruptly.   These incidents usually happen at  night without anyone being inside.  These stories and reports were occurring  over several decades that it became an   urban legend. No one knows for sure what was  exactly happening inside the lonely palace.

We can see here a part of the original wall.  It was left deliberately to show traces of   bats scratching the walls and how the walls  looked like before the recent renovations. The police eventually raided the palace and  made arrests. the case was well known back in   the 90s as the Satan Worshippers case. The palace was then put under strict  

security and no public access was allowed.  It became a lonelier empty place than before. Jean Empain, the son of the first Baron continued  to live here after his father passed away in 1929   and he used to have extravagance parties  and to host large gatherings in the palace In this floor, the first floor, there are four  rooms each with its own balcony and bathroom. After many years, the time has finally came.  

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities  in cooperation with the Belgian Embassy in Egypt   and other civil society associations started  a project in 2017 to turn the palace into an   archaeological gallery to tell the history of  Heliopolis district and its founder Baron Empain.   The project team had a difficult task at  hand. The walls were covered with graffiti,   bat scratches, and feces. The floors were  covered with thick layers of dust, stains,  

mud, debris, animal remains, and more. The damage was everywhere. This was not the worst thing they had to  deal with. The palace was one of the first   buildings in Egypt to be built with reinforced  concrete. It was a new technology back in 1907.   The concrete has deteriorated over the decades  and the steel bars were exposed and rusting.   This caused serious structural issues that could  have led to the collapse of the whole building. All the details of the damages were documented.  The team referred back to the original blueprints  

of the palace as they were trying to restore it to  its original shape and style as much as possible.  The foundations were tested for stability. Samples   of the concrete were analyzed to  decide on the best way to treat it.   In 2020 the palace was finally ready for  opening to the public. The opening also   coincided with the 115th anniversary of the  foundation of Heliopolis district back in 1905.

The palace is not far from the famous  Basilique Notre Dame d'Heliopolis, – or   Our Lady of Heliopolis Co-Cathedral that  was built by Baron Empain back in 1913.   After his death in Belgium, his  body was transported back to Egypt   to be buried in this church  not very far from his palace. Heliopolis was originally built as a luxurious  town with spacious parks and wide streets.  

Gradually, it became a destination for  Egyptians from different social backgrounds   and for those looking for a high class  and quiet neighborhood to call home.  Buildings started getting higher and  population grew significantly over the years Part of a new suburb of Heliopolis was making sure  religion and worship places were made available   to all known religions and sects in Egypt. At that  time, these included many places of worship in the   district including mosques, churches such as our  lady of Heliopolis Co-Cathedral (which is also is   the burial place of Baron Empain and his son Jean  Louis Lain Empain), Saint George Coptic Orthodox   Church, Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Church,  Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church, Saint-Rita   Maronite church, Sainte Therese Armenian Catholic  Church, and the Jewish Al Missalah synagogue As we go up the stairs to the roof, we  can see the windows around the stairs   the design of the palace makes the  light shine inside all day long.   The windows are also designed in a way  that creates cooling atmosphere inside   the palace naturally especially in the summer  when the temperatures in Egypt are very high.  We can see here the beautiful spiral staircase  and the chandelier. There is a story about the  

baron's wife falling off the stairs and  dying here but it is not a reliable story And here we are, looking over the  dream of Baron Empain that came true:   Heliopolis or as the Egyptians call it  today: Mase El Ghedidah or New Egypt The presidential palace can be seen here close  by. It was originally built by the Baron as the   Heliopolis Palace Hotel. It was one of the world's  largest and luxurious hotels until the 1930s.   The population of Heliopolis grew  significantly over the years.   In 2016 the estimated population of  Heliopolis district was around 143,000.  

Most residential buildings are now  low or high-rise buildings villas   and mansions are still there to reminds us of  the old days, but not many of them are remaining The roof is an integral part of the  overall Asian design of the palace.   The chimneys are made in the form of gates  decorated with elephant mythical character.   Other tempting statues and decorative  carvings surround the place.

The roof was intended to be a place where  gatherings and parties can be entertained. The Giza pyramids could be seen from the  palace back in the early 20th century   when most of the surrounding  area was still just a desert. The baron had an elevator installed to connect  the palace floors to the basement. It was one of   the first elevators to be installed in Egypt.  The technology was relatively new worldwide. This is a marble statue of the Roman mythical  nymph Amalthea . During the god Jupiter infancy,   she took care of him to hide him from his father,  Saturn to protect him, according to the myth. 

An exact copy of this statue by Pierre  Julien is in the Louvre Museum in Paris Baron Empain had some of the wealthiest neighbors  in Egypt. For example the Arabesque palace of   Boghos and Marie Nubar Pasha which is now  a military headquarters. And close by was   the residence of sultan Hussein Kamel  who ruled Egypt between 1914 and 1917. 

It is now a presidential guest  house. Some of the wealthiest   Egyptians live in villas and mansions in  the same area around the palace today. As a result of 1952 revolution led by  Gamal Abdel Nasser, Heliopolis became   home to many of Cairo's educated middle class,  and over the years the distance between Cairo   and Heliopolis is not empty desert anymore.  Today, Heliopolis is practically inside Cairo.

Heliopolis had the first amusement park  in Africa: Luna Park. It was built in 1911   but unfortunately during World War I it was  converted into an Australian field hospital The Maryland was another amusement park.  It was built in Heliopolis later on.   It became an entertainment destination for  all Egyptians and even a touristic attraction Today Heliopolis is still home for many Egyptian  celebrities, politicians. and important government  

and military offices. And it continues to be one  of the richest and best living areas of Cairo.  In recent years several road  and bridge construction projects   in addition to other infrastructure  projects were finished by the government   to address many of the problems that have  arisen from the increasing population and   congested streets of Heliopolis. It is  now looking strongly into the future The Baron Empain Palace is now back  to be the crown jewel of Heliopolis.  

It is standing tall as a unique and incredible  architectural piece of history not only in Egypt   but also in Africa and the Middle East. Here in the middle of Heliopolis   after the recent renovations, it cannot  be called a lonely palace anymore.   This palace is a must-see  attraction for any visitor to Egypt Thank you for your interest in  this video please subscribe to   Egyptian Planet channel to learn more about Egypt

2021-12-04 02:05

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