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Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino

16 Saray El Gezira Street · Cairo 11211 Egypt

Historic Cairo palace

History of the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino

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History of the Palace

Built by Khedive Ismail as a guest palace for the Suez Canal inauguration celebrations in 1869, the historic Palace Al Gezirah in Cairo, Egypt, has housed European monarchs, including Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. It was to be the venue of the first performance of Verdi's Opera Aida.

Neoclassical Architecture

The architecture and construction of the ancient palace reflected Khedive's passion for neoclassical style, as popularized in Europe. He engaged the services of Austrian Architect Julius Franz (later known Franz Bey) and De Curel Del Rosso, who also designed the Abdin Palace.


German architect Carl von Diebitsch was contracted as the palace's interior designer. He designed the décor and prefabricated the furniture, draperies and other internal fittings.


Cairo Marriott Hotel: A Journey Through Time

Palace in Cairo, Egypt

Historical Timeline

The palace has hosted several historic ceremonies throughout the years, including the wedding of Khedive Ismail's son, which lasted 40 days, the wedding of the daughter of Prime Minister Nahhas Pasha in the 1930s, and a boat party in front of the palace as part of H.M King Farouk and H.M Queen Nariman's wedding celebrations.


The palace has undergone several changes since transitioning to a hotel. In 1879, when operating as the exclusive Gezirah Palace Hotel, it was confiscated by the state due to outstanding debts, acquired by the Egyptian Hotels Company.


In 1919, the hotel was sold to Habib Lotfallah, a Syrian landlord who had settled in Cairo, for 140,000 EGP. In 1961, during the time of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the palace was nationalized and became the Omar Khayyam Hotel.

Cairo palace interior

Marriott Take over the Historic Cairo Palace

In the 1970s, the property was handed over to Marriott International for management. They restored the original palace, furnishing it with amenities befitting a five-star hotel and flanking it with two modern towers housing 1,087 guest rooms.


Today, the palace is all that remains of the estate. Many of its rooms and furniture have been preserved and restored to their historic splendor, and now serve as reception rooms and lounges. Many of Von Diebitsch's decorative elements that can be seen in several locations throughout the hotel.

Historic Cairo palace restoration

History of the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino