The Museum of Royal Carriages is located in Cairo's Boulak neighborhood and is considered to be one of the important Egyptian museums. The museum displays the royal carriages of the family of Mohamed Ali, the founder of modern Egypt. Ali and his family members were quite fond of horses, so there is a lot to see! The Alis were Egypt's last royal family and ruled from the beginning of the 19th century until the Egyptian Revolution in 1951. They used to ride in these wonderful chariots on many different occasions, including wedding ceremonies and official processions.
Establishment Of The Museum
The Museum of Royal Carriages is located on 26th of July Street just beside the historical mosque of Abu El Ellah, which was constructed in the middle of the 16th century. The museum was established during the reign of Khedive Ismail in the last quarter of the 20th century. He was the first one to think of founding a special building to show off the royal carriages and horses.
This building was originally called the "Department of the Khedive Carriages" when it was first established and then the name was modified to become the "Management of the Royal Stables" which was one of the three managements that used to follow the instructions of the "Department of the Khedive Carriages". As many different periods of time went by, the building was transformed to become the "Museum of Royal Carriages" because it was used to host the carriages, horses, and even their ornaments that used to belong to the members of the royal family in Egypt.
The museum also hosted the horses of the Khedive and other horses that were owned by other past royal family members. Experts, doctors, and veterinarians were brought from all over the world to take care of the horses. This is in addition to the skilled workers who used to maintain and restore the royal carriages for display. The "Department of the Khedive Carriages" didn't only manage the horse carriages of the Khedive and his family but also used to take care of the automobiles of the family that used to own valuable, expensive cars from different world-class brands like Citroen, Ford, and Cadillac.
In the past, the building of the museum used to consist of different sections; the first was for the horse carriages, the second was for the horse stable, the third was a veterinarian clinic, the fourth was a complete ambulance office, and the last section was specified for the workers to live and sleep in. In 1969, the governorate of Cairo took around three-quarters of the surface area of the Museum of Royal Carriages and transformed it into a garage. Afterward, in 1978, some of the most remarkable carriages and uniforms were chosen to be put on display and the rest of the items were stored in special warehouses.
The museum also used to have a large open courtyard and this was where the royal carriages were prepared before the Khedive or any of his family members ride in any of them.
More About The Museum
The façade of the Museum of Royal Carriages consists of architectural portraits in the shape of horses' heads and it was more than 15 meters high, forming a notable scene in one of the less touristic neighborhoods of Cairo. The museum has vertical geometrical trim and wonderful models of artificial horses that were used to explain the muscular anatomy of the horse.
The Museum of Royal Carriages exhibits around 78 historically valuable royal carriages. Twenty-two carriages of this collection were gifts that were presented to the rulers of Egypt since the reign of Khedive Ismail and until the ruling period of King Farouk by the other kings and emperors of Europe.
Among the most important carriages that were presented to the rulers of Egypt as gifts is the carriage that was given by Napoleon III and Queen Eugene to Khedive Ismail in the ceremony of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Khedive Ismail used this royal carriage during his wedding ceremony. Another notable example of this wonderful collection of carriages is the Cuban carriage that was used by the Queen and other family members during the opening conference of the parliament.
During the reign of King Fouad, who ruled Egypt from 1917 till 1922, the carriages were used to transfer the ambassadors and the consuls of foreign countries during their journey in Egypt. Moreover, the royal carriage that was given to Khedive Ismail as a gift from Queen Eugene was used to transfer the kings, queens, and emperors of Europe and other nations during their trips to Egypt.
The Museum of Royal Carriages also has 7 galleries and 20 glass cupboards to preserve and display different types of uniforms that were used in royal carriage affairs, including leather outfits, the ornaments that the horses used to wear, oil-colored paintings, and a large collection of geometrical drawings that illustrate the structural formations of carriages. There are also 8 models of human beings made out of plaster to show the outfits and uniforms. There are also thousands of other items that the people working with the carriages used to wear and use available for visitors to see.
Restoration Of The Museum Of Royal Carriages
Restoration work of the Museum of Royal Carriages started in 2003 due to a decision from Zahi Hawass, the director of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who decided that the museum was in big need of some extensive restoration and renovation work. Although the restoration work should have been completed and the museum should have been opened to the public in 2011, the revolution of the 25th of January and the political events that followed postponed the opening of the museum. The restoration of the museum has also faced some financial problems because the private company which was responsible for the restoration and renovation work refused to continue its work because they hadn't received the payment for the first stage of the work.
After the presidential elections and with matters getting calmer in Egypt, the whole Egyptian community hopes that the Museum of the Royal Carriages will soon reopen its gates to welcome guests and regain its role as one of the places of interest that attract tourists from all over the world to Egypt.