The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Beit El Umma (Saad Zaghloul Museum)

Saad Zaghloul Museum: Timeless Homage to Iconic Leader

  • 2, Saad Zaghloul Street, next to Saad Zaghloul Metro Station
  • Museums
  • 0227945399
  • 10AM-5PM
reviewed by
Anne de Groot
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Saad Zaghloul Museum: Timeless Homage to Iconic Leader

Cairo is
home to many museums, most of which are unfortunately overshadowed by the
Egyptian Museum. In light of the past six months of events and Egyptians’ increasing political awareness, the Saad Zaghloul Museum in Downtown Cairo is a great option for a museum; as it gives insight
into the life of one of Egypt’s most iconic political leaders.

The
museum is located in the former house of Saad Zaghloul and his wife Safeya. The
house is also known as ‘Beit El Umma’ or house of the nation, as Zaghloul would often hold meetings with the Egyptian
cabinet in his own house and would give speeches about from his balcony. His
wife, who was also involved in politics, would often host soirées and lectures
herself in the house.

There is
a small garden surrounding the house that you must pass through to enter the
museum. The hallway is enormous with a marble staircase at the end of it. Light
is provided by the enormous glass pane behind the stairs. On your right is the
dining room and on your left is a small salon. Halfway down the hall is a slightly bigger
salon, which was used by Zaghloul to host members of the Egyptian cabinet.
There is a special chair for his wife as well.

The most
interesting part of the lower floor is Zaghloul’s office. His pencils are still
on the desk. Zaghloul would sit with his back to the window and because of that,
he had a gigantic mirror installed on the opposing wall so that he could
monitor what was happening behind him. He apparently did this to keep an eye
out on possible assassins.

The
upper level of the house is more interesting and gives insight into the private
lives of Saad and Safeya. The first things you stumble upon are two birdcages
with stuffed parrots inside. These were Zaghloul’s actual parrots; he trained
one parrot to speak in Arabic and the other one in French. The bedroom is on
the right side with the dressing rooms of Saad and Safeya on each side. The
bedroom is very pink and has a double queen-size bed. In front, is a
chaise longue where Saad read the newspaper every
morning.

Safeya’s
dressing room still has her clothing on hangers, including many lace pieces. Saad’s
dressing room still has a collection of the canes that he used later in life,
in addition to some of his suits. The most interesting detail in the room is
the built-in wall calendar. The date is set to August 23 1927, the day that
Saad Zaghloul died. Allegedly, his wife didn’t want anyone to touch the
calendar after his death. There is also a living room with arabesque woodwork
furniture which holds some of Zaghloul’s awards and Safeya’s jewellery.

One
interesting part of the house is the bathroom with an art deco ceiling design
that could have been installed just yesterday. The honeybee pattern with
different glass gives a very cool lighting effect. There is also a rain shower,
proving that Zaghloul liked the little luxuries in life. This is reflected as
well by the collection of vintage Louis Vuitton travel bags that are carelessly
placed in a corner next to the elevator.

The museum’s
staff members are extremely friendly and love to give tours around the house
and talk about everything. Although they only speak Arabic, every room has a
board with a description in English as well.

The Saad
Zaghloul Museum gives access to the
intimate life of one of Egypt’s most
relevant political leaders. On a more personal level, everything in this house,
from the pictures to the decorations, give testimony to the strength and the
importance of Saad Zaghloul’s relationship with Safeya. When visiting this
museum, you might be left wondering: what if these walls could talk?

360 Tip

The Saad Zaghloul Cultural Centre is located in the basement of the building. There are various workshops and exhibitions held there throughout the year.

Best Bit

Aside from the intriguing insight into the private home of this iconic leader, the Louis Vuitton vintage travel bags and the art deco bathroom are highlights.

Worst Bit

Some parts of the house are not accessible to the public.

Map Data
Map data ©2016
Map DataMap data ©2016
Map data ©2016

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