CAIRO: Several heritage activists and archaeologists have voiced their concern over an alleged attempt to sell 95-year-old Iskander Palace; only five years before it could be potentially registered in the Ministry of Antiquities’ heritage list.
Photos showing Iskandar Palace being put up for sale have recently gone viral on social media with calls on the government to stop the sale of the palace located in Egypt’s Delta governorate of Mansoura.
“According to the Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities, it is prohibited to sell any 100-year-old object / building with unique architectural and archaeological values but it has to be registered in the Ministry of Antiquities’ heritage list,” former head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Abdel Halim Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Thursday.
If the building with the unique archaeological value is less than 100 years old, “the SCA still can form an exceptional committee to examine the building and submit a report explaining its unique artistic values and reasons to preserve it,” Nour el-Din said.
He added that in all cases, the ownership of the building does not shift to the state but the owner(s) are not eligible to restore, demolish or change any of the building’s architectural features.
The three-story palace, also known as the Red Palace due to its reddish bricks, is famous for its fish-scale façade and unique Gothic style used only in churches, the Save Mansoura Antiquities campaign said.
On its Facebook page, the campaign said it “rejects the sale and called on the state’s heritage bodies to buy or protect the palace and turn it into a cultural center or a museum.”
Bearing the name of its former owner, Iskandar Hanna, the historic landmark was built in 1921, archaeologist Ahmed Shehab was quoted by Youm7 Friday.
Shehab said that the palace has been abandoned for decades and turned to a “landfill,” and accused the Antiquities Ministry of failure to protect it.