Ras El Tin Palace is among the oldest palaces in Egypt and historic monuments in Alexandria.
The Palace is the sole live witness of the rise and glamour of Mohamed Ali dynasty over a 150-year period under the vibrant public sphere of Egypt. The Palace saw the demise of Mohamed Ali Pasha’s in 1948 and bid farewell to Khedive Ismael on his sail to exile from the quay by Ras El-Tin palace in 1879.
The Palace further beheld the fall of Mohamed Ali dynasty, King Farouk abdication of the throne in favor of Crown Prince, Ahmed Fouad and King Farouk’s departure on “Al-Mahroussa” the royal yacht from Ras El Tin port to Italy.
During World War 2, King Farouk quartered the British Forces in the Palace and hence it became seat and hospital of the British Naval Command.
Viceroy Mohamed Ali initiated the building of Ras El Tin Palace to take the shape of a fortress and serve as one of the regal palaces in Alexandria. The entire building process inclusive of foundations, supplementary works and annexation of wings lasted for 13 years and was officially inaugurated in 1847. During the reign of King Fouad I, the Palace underwent a reconstruction phase to hold 3 floors and was refurnished to resonate contemporariness across the unique architectural design. A spectacular mosque was annexed to the Palace.
The Palace buildings stretch over a two-feddan area while the gardens cover a massive area of 12 feddans. The site previously hosted plentiful groves of fig trees rendering the Palace its unique name later as “Tin” stands for the word fig in English. Mohamed Ali commissioned two French architects to build Ras El Tin Palace, which initially took the shape of a Roman fort. The only remnant of the older version of the Palace is the eastern gate amalgamated in the newer version. Successive rulers embarked on several alterations of the royal building to resonate the spirit of modern age. The eastern gate comprises six granite pillars with Egyptian crowns used on their capitals and their lentils embellished with Quranic verses written in cooper letters.
The Palace houses a myriad of halls, salons and wings marked by exquisite embellishments and embossments such as the throne hall unrivaled but to the one in Abdeen Palace. There is also a ship dock, where “Al-Mahroussa” yacht was once hosted. The gardens tell a tale of incredibly rare flowers in full bloom brought all the way from the Netherlands. The landscape also encloses birdhouses and tennis courts. The Palace accommodates sumptuous and luxurious pieces of furniture, artifacts and paintings deemed priceless.
Among the most architecturally distinguished parts of the Palace is the Gothic hall added by King Fouad I resembling the Byzantine hall in Abdeen Palace. The palace overlooks the naval base in Alexandria. It used to have a swimming pool with a glass-covered courtyard.
Current Architectural Design
During the reign of King Fuad I, the Palace underwent a reconstruction phase to resonate contemporariness and came to resemble Abdeen Palace but not as sizeable.
The basement of the Palace includes a third hall leading to stairs connected to the Palace docks where “Mahroussa” yacht was once housed. Later, King Farouk and family boarded the yacht heading to exile in Italy.
Elsewhere on the ground floor of the Palace is the grandiloquent Haramlek (women wing) and the servants’ quarters as well as the round hall where King Farouk signed his abdication.
After mounting the ceremonial staircase to the upper floor there is situated the monumental throne hall (previously called The Hall of Firman), the King’s private office; a corridor leading to the main dining room, conference hall, bedroom, study room, the administration salon, and a secret door leading to the queen's suite.
There are several entrances to the palace, of substantial significance is entrance 1, a remnant of the old palace, known as the Eastern Gate. The eastern gate comprises six granite pillars with Egyptian crowns used on their capitals and their lentils embellished with Quranic verses written in cooper letters. The far ends of the gate thresholds bear two lion statues, in the mid-area a marble block is situated with shapes of birds, shields, and two eagles facing each other.
The second entrance is deemed secondary and is adjacent to the newly-constructed mosque. The third entrance leads to the seaside façade of the palace buildings. The fourth entrance is located at the far end of the Palace wall leading to the naval command.
The Palace envelops several buildings namely the palace building housing the main and middle floors, the guesthouse suite, media suites, the princesses’ building, the glass corridors linking the palace with the princesses' building, and the mosque facing the main facade of the palace.
Annexes of the palace host the princesses’ building, comprising a ground floor and two upper floors, a train waiting room and Barqi Mosque. The simple architecture and possessions of the mosque render it a more Zawaya (small mosque) appearance accentuated with a modern entrance where Quranic verses of Al-Mu'awwidhatayn (al-Falaq and al-Nas) are engraved.
Ras El Tin is among the oldest and most important royal palaces in Egypt. It had been the ruling headquarters in summer for Egypt's kings and rulers over the past years.
In a meeting headed by Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, the Minister of Antiquities, on Thursday September 5, 2015, the Supreme Council of Antiquities agreed to register Ras El Tin Palace in the Islamic and Coptic monuments archive.