Introducing the Al Azem Palace
The Al Azem Palace was built in 1752 by the Ottoman governor of Damascus As'ad al-Azem. As’ad Pasha came from a Syrian family who had governed Damascus for two generations. Displaying the power and prestige of the Azem family, As’ad Pasha built the palace using family funds. Part of the palace was purchased by the French government in 1922, only to be largely destroyed after the French attack on the Old City in 1925. The palace was restored over a long period of time, with re-used stone masonry coming from demolished buildings as development took over the city of Damascus. As’ad Pasha himself had commissioned the reuse of older columns, masonry and even timber from local buildings, incorporating different aspects of Damascus’ past into his palace. The palace has two main wings: the haremlik and the selamlik. The family wing, or haremlik, was a private space which contained the sleeping quarters, the kitchen, the hamam, the servant’s quarters as well as an impressive courtyard with a variety of plants. The selamlik was where guests were received, with its formal halls, reception area and exclusive courtyard.