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The Azem Palace




Located in Damascus ,the Azem Palace is considered as one of the most important historical places. It was built in 1749 by the governor of Damascus, As'ad Pasha al-Azem. It's fashioned in typical Damascene style of striped stonework, achieved by alternating layers of black basalt and limestone. The rooms of the modest palace are magnificent, decorated with inlaid tile work and the most exquisite painted ceilings.

Azem Palace comprises a complex of splendid buildings, courtyards and gardens that were built between 1749 and 1752 as a private residence for the governor of Damascus, As'ad Pasha al-Azem. It remained the Azem residence until the beginning of the 20th century, when the family moved outside the Old City and the house was sold to the French to become an Institute of Archaeology and Islamic Art. Badly damaged by fire during uprisings against the French in 1925, later it has since been beautifully restored.

Inside the Palace to left, then right, a small leafy courtyard, before entering the main courtyard, which has a serene central pool and fountain. The courtyard is fringed by low-rise buildings, all boasting the beautiful black basalt, limestone and sandstone banding technique known as ablaq, a characteristic of Mamluk architecture typically found throughout the Levant and Egyptian.

Off the courtyard are a number of sumptuously decorated rooms with wooden paneling, lustrous blue tiling, painted ceilings and coloured paste work - a technique in which a pattern is incised into stone and then filled in with pastes made from different colored stones to give the effect of an immensely complicated stone inlay. This area served as the haramlik (family or women's quarters).

The Palace Also known as the Museum of the Arts & Popular Traditions of Syria, the rooms contain rather kitsch mannequin displays, each with a different theme (the wedding, pilgrimage etc), and displays of exquisite ceramics, costumes, textiles and musical instruments.

Nada Haj Khidr.