Many important buildings, embassies and landmarks overlook the flowing waters of the Nile in Cairo, but few can hold a candle to Aisha Fahmy’s beautiful palace in Zamalek.
Who is Princess Aisha Fahmy?
Princess Aisha Fahmy is the daughter of Ali Fahmy Pasha, commander of the army of King Fouad I. She was the richest woman in Egypt at the time and was also the wife of the prominent Egyptian actor and director Youssef Wehbe, who was one of the pioneers of Egyptian theater at the beginning of the twentieth century and his father Abdullah Pasha Wehbe was a friend of Ali Pasha, my understanding.
Wehbe usually invited the princess to parties at his home attended by many rich and famous members of the entertainment industry, as their relationship progressed they went on trips to London together and continued to bond as he stood by her side during the trial of the murder of her brother Ali Fahmy at the hands of his French wife who wanted to escape with his money.
Unfortunately, her sister-in-law “Margaret Miller” was acquitted despite all the evidence of her involvement in the murder, but she was denied access to the inheritance.
The case angered the Egyptian public at the time and inspired Wehbe to write his first film, and the first Egyptian-language film, Awlad El-Zawat (1932), which focused on the problems of marriage between Egyptian men and foreign women in face, and also appeared in the film as a hero who married a woman several years older than him, which seemed to foreshadow developments in Wehbe and Aisha Fahmy’s relationship since she was 16 years older than him .
In fact, Aisha was married and had to give up an unusual amount of money and land to expedite her divorce so she could marry Wehbe. They soon got married in Paris with very few guests, including Aisha’s best friend, Saeeda Mansour, and Mansour Pasha’s daughter Youssef and the wife of Abdul Shafi Bey Al-Maghazi.
Aisha Wehbe helped save his theater from bankruptcy, accompanied him on his tours around the world where he presented his plays with his famous theater group.
Their marriage was successful for several years until jealousy overtook them, according to Wehbe’s biography. He reportedly left their home with hardly any money or property. Aisha Fahmy tried to lure him back by offering him money and land, but he refused and they divorced. then pursued him in the courts until he declared bankruptcy.
It is said that at that time she married another famous actor, “Mahmoud Shikoku”, to make Wehbe jealous but to no avail. Wahbi himself, and they did get divorced.
Some time after the divorce of Aisha Fahmy and Wehbe, a relationship began to develop between Wehbe and Saida, Aisha’s friend, who attended their wedding, although she was still married, prompting her brothers and her husband to threaten him after he fled with her. , to Beirut, Lebanon.
It was reported that Aisha Fahmy tried to offer Saeeda money to leave Wehbe, but she refused, and their marriage lasted until his death in 1982.
How did Aisha Fahmy own the palace?
After the death of her father and brother, Aisha bought her brothers’ shares for 72,000 pounds, which was an unusual amount at the time, and became her sole owner. For years, Princess Aisha Fahmy lived with her husband Youssef Wehbe in the lived in the palace before their divorce, and she continued to live in the palace thereafter until she died in 1962.
Aisha Fahmy Palace: Design and Construction:
The palace was built in 1907 for his brother, Aisha, the Egyptian aristocrat Ali Fahmy. It was designed in the classic European style by the Italian architect Antonio Lasiac, and was built on the Nile River in Zamalek on an area of 2,700 m2.
The two-story building contains five rooms with many original textile art and European oil paintings by many famous artists, such as Delacroix, Gauguin, Rodin, Renoir, Fernand Pelez, Henri Rondel, Guillaume Seignac, Charles-Emile Jacques and many more.
The rooms on the right are the summer rooms and have a wonderful view of the Nile. As for the rooms on the left, they were used in winter, including a room that was originally used to play billiards and had a fireplace, now converted into a living room, where the name of Fahmy’s father in the wood is engraved.
The furniture currently in the living room does not belong to my understanding as the curators have chosen new furniture to match the room’s decor.
The second floor contains rooms for antiquities, as well as a Japanese room donated to Fahmy by the Japanese Embassy, so this room represents Japanese civilization and displays two Buddha statues made of gilded wood.
The bathrooms also had gas heaters, which were very difficult to install at the time, showing how the Princess was used to living in luxury that was available to a few people at the time.
The princess’s bedroom is decorated with shiny gold leaf. She also has her own fitting room. The museum’s chandeliers and art window panels are original but have been restored over the years.
After Fahmy’s death in 1962, the government restored the palace, and it was designated as a presidential palace, before coming under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. In 1976, the palace became the Art Center.
The palace has undergone many restorations and now hosts visual art exhibitions and art activities in its various rooms, and the garden and its rooms display private national collections of works of art by leading Egyptian artists.
Despite the tumultuous and sometimes tragic story of the life of its owner, Aisha Fahmy Palace is one of Cairo’s most beautiful landmarks, with its carefully decorated rooms and numerous original and host galleries, it is definitely a must-visit for anyone who others want to experience. times in Egyptian history.