Palais d’Antoniadis

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Palais d’Antoniadis
Palais d’Antoniadis


The Palais d’Antoniadis is a palace in Alexandria, Egypt, named after Sir John Antoniadis (1818–1895), who was an Alexandrian Greek.[1] He was born in Lemnos and received French citizenship when he made business in Marseilles. He was also president of the Greek Community in Alexandria and consul general of Belgium. Queen Victoria knighted Antoniadis.

It lies near the Mahmoudia Canal at the southern entrance of Alexandria, and is surrounded by some 48 hectares (120 acres) of greenery in several sections. They include the Antoniadis Garden, the Flower Garden, the Zoological and Botanical Gardens and the Nouzaba (Nuzha) Garden, which was a residential suburb inhabited by the likes of Callimachous (310–240 BC), the head librarian of the ancient Library of Alexandria at that time. In 640 AD, the Roman general Pompilius thwarted the King of Syria's attempt to capture Alexandria, while in the same year the cavalry of the Arab conqueror Amr Ibn el-As pitched camp before entering the city.

The Antoniadis Palace and its park are constructed as a miniature version of the Palace of Versaille. The villa and its garden date back to the 19th century, and are mainly used to house a collection of statues sculpted in the Greek style and owned by Sir John Antoniadis. It consists of a basement level of 434 square meters, a ground floor of 1,085 square meters, a second floor of 860 meters and a roof area of 480 square meters, for a total area of 2,859 square metres (30,770 sq ft). The ground and second floors include 15 rooms each. There are several archaeological remains, including a tomb and a cistern.

The tomb on the grounds, because of its setting and because of the Agathodaimon (god snake) that decorated its kline chamber, is popularly known as the "Tomb of Adam and Eve".[citation needed] Its entrance is down a deep staircase of forty-four steps that ends in a landing opening onto the court at the south end. It is believed to date from the first century BC. The principal rooms consist of an open-air court, a vestibule and an alcove with a funerary bed, on a single axis.

Here, the kline is reduced from a functional couch to a facade treated in low relief. During Sir John Antoniadis lifetime, it was a gathering place for the social elite, and was the scene of much gaiety and many parties. However, Antonis Antoniadis, the son of Sir John Antoniadis, later donated the family mansion, grounds and gardens to the Alexandria Town Council.

Afterwards, it was used as a guest house to host visiting dignitaries to Egypt, including the King of Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Shah of Iran and Mohamed Reza Pahlavi, who was married to the Egyptian Princess Fawzia, the sister of King Farouk. The Villa also hosted the signing ceremony of the 1936 agreement between Egypt and Britain, which gave Egypt some limited independence, and it held the first meeting of the Egyptian Olympia committee.

After the 1952 revolution, part of the original garden of the villa itself was used to enlarge the Nouzaha and zoological gardens. There was a general decline in the condition of the villa after about 1970, but the gardens remain in fairly good condition.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Donald Malcolm Reid: Whose Pharaohs?: Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from , p. 150
  2. ^ "Antoniadis Villa and its Gardens". Retrieved 4 May 2016. 

Coordinates: 31°12′08″N 29°57′03″E / 31.20222°N 29.95083°E / 31.20222; 29.95083