Maktab Anbar (Arabic: مكتب عنبر) (Anbar Office) is a house in the center of Old Damascus. The house was built as a private residence by a local Jewish notable Mr. Anbar in the mid 19th century and was later confiscated by the Ottoman government after Mr. Anbar went bankrupt.
He had made his fortune in the Far East, returned to Damascus many years later and built this beautiful house. The family story was that he had lent a lot of money to the Sultan of Turkey who refused to return the money.
The family in desperation asked the Kaiser of Germany to intervene, and he did. The Sultan was so furious that he never returned the funds and Mr. Anbar then went into bankruptcy and lost the house. The family later was said to have emigrated to Alexandria in Egypt.
The house is built around three courtyards, first the formal reception courtyard, behind this the attractive female courtyard, and finally the spartan servants' courtyard. Due to the cost of building, the owner turned the building into the Damascus Civil Preparatory School, which was a prestigious, expensive, tuition-based school for the children of the land-owning families of Damascus. According to Philip Khoury, many Syrian nationalist leaders who worked and were co-opted by the French from 1928 and independence in 1946, were graduated of Maktab Anbar. The house was restored by the Ministry of Culture in 1976. It now holds a library exhibition hall, museum and craft workshops.
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