Azem / Hijaz

damascusazem-palace2The Azem Palace in the 1880s. Built in 1749-51 by Assad Pasha al-Azem, one in a line of Ottoman governors of Syria tapped from the various Azem families. “At the end of this Suq [Bezouria], is one of the most splendid houses in Damascus,with seven courts and saloons,gorgeously decorated; it still belongs to his descendant,” gushed Isabel Burton, wife of Richard Burton, the Victorian explorer who was made consul in Damascus in 1869. [MidEastImage]

And today:


Meanwhile the Hijaz Station (1908-1913), which today functions as a temporary bookstore and the eventual facade to a large commercial development (rumors of a large shopping mall/transit terminal), was in its heyday the grand traveler’s entrance to Sham. It was also designed by a Spaniard. A photo circa 1914-1918:


The architect Fernando de Aranda (1878-1969) also built the trade building al-‘Abid in Merjeh Square and anticipated, in Stefan Weber‘s estimatation, “the orientalizing colonial-style.” Which reminds me of Cairo: the al-Rifai mosque across the street from the 14th century madrassa of Sultan Hassan. Al-Rifai was built between 1869 and 1912, its design supervised by an Austrian, Max Herz, head of the Khedive-appointed, foreign-dominated Committee for the Conservation of Arab Monuments in Cairo. For more about all that, check out Paula Sanders book.

The Hijaz station in 2007, on my first trip to Syria:



One thought on “Azem / Hijaz

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Syria: Architectural Gems

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