Egypt: Deterioration of the Kedewi Tawfek Palace

The Deterioration of the Kedewi Tawfek Palace

By Amargi Hillier

Helwan was once a popular tourist site during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately most of Helwans beauty has faded away. All the beautiful palaces and houses have disappeared and the city has turned into cement block construction; rough and rigid looking.

The Palace of the Kedewi Tawfek was one of the main tourist attractions but now schools surround it and the palace has been ignored. The palace was a high priority to be recorded as an antiquity but for some reason the palace was not recorded.

Antiquities researcher, Engineer Mohammed Abu El-Amayem, at the French Institute of Antiquities, claims that the SCA should consider the recording of these monuments, not considering them as an extra burden. These efforts will protect these historical structures from the fate of demolition. He also criticizes the educational buildings around the palace believing they where built haphazardly. One school itself has requested the demolition of the palace as the palace is in danger of collapse. Other officials, however, believe that the palace is in very good condition when looking at its foundation structure. The only thing that might collapse is a tin chimney, which was erected when the palace was turned into a hotel. They chimney can be easily removed or restored. The real danger that the palace is facing now is the theft of its doors, windows and other parts that appear to be precious.

Engineer Abu El-Amayem hopes that the palace will be renovated and turned into a museum. He thinks it would be a waste and a crime to demolish this beautiful structure. Helwan has already lost three historical buildings in demolition: the Helwan Tower, the Hayah Hotel, and the Hammamat Hotel.

On the other hand, the head of the educational buildings construction, Mohammed Abu Zade, is in opposition to the restoration of this building. He considers the palace too old and deteriorated and beyond the point of restoration. If restorations took place then they would fall under the responsibility of the Antiquities Authority. He added that the Antiquities Authority has requested from the Authority of Educational Buildings to restore the palace. The reply to this request was that the palaces condition is beyond repair. The Authority of Educational Buildings also requested from the Antiquities Authority to take responsibility in the fate of this building because it is now considered an antiquity and not an educational building. Abu Zade mentions also that residents of the area requested from the Minister of Education to remove this palace for fear of the lives of the students in the neighboring school, fearing that the building might collapse.

A final report has proven that the palace is in threat of collapse. These questions remain. Will the palace be renovated or demolished? Who will do the dirty work, the Antiquities Authority or the Authority of Educational Buildings? And most of all, will it be too late before a decision is made to determine the fate of this historical building?

Antiquity News Briefs - July 19, 2001

Antiquity Briefs at July 19, 2001

The Authority of Culture and Antiquities in Alexandria has urgently requested from Governor Mohammed Abd El-Salam El-Mahgoob to restore the museum of late Gamal Abd El-Nasser. President Gamal Abd El-Nasser was the leader of the revolution of 23 July 1952 and was the former president of Egypt. The museum reflects his life and how he used to live. The museum is situated in a small villa consisting of a ground floor, a garden, and a cellar. The structure of the building is in dire need of restoration. There are large cracks in the wall and the water system of the villa is not functioning. In addition, the museum is not guarded, which makes it vulnerable to antiquity theft. Much of this urgency might also be stimulated by current national awareness about President Nasser during the recent release of a film about his life which is now airing in movie theaters throughout Egypt.

The Egyptian Constant Delegation in the UNESCO branch has succeeded in resolving that all the sunken treasures surfaced or still sunken on the coasts of Egypt are and will remain under the ownership of Egypt. None of the excavating teams will have the right to exploit the coast antiquities of Egypt. This resolution is the result of a four year talk between the Egyptian delegation and UNESCO. Plans to re-erect of the Statue of Deliseps have been put on a halt in Port Said. There are ongoing contradicting opinions whether to re-erect he statue or not, which has resulted in delays. Numerous officials say that the statue holds historical value and that it is very important to remain in its standing place. Others oppose this idea and say it was a symbol of tyranny to the Egyptians who knocked it down in the 1956 Revolution. Discussion also concerns the pedestrian walkway leading to the Deliseps Statue. The walkway is in bad condition and needs to be made more beautiful to support tourism to the site. However this aspect cannot be solved until it is decided upon whether to re-raise the statue or not.


Last Updated: April 28th, 2011