Regular readers will already have seen our article on the Azem Palace in Hama – well the man who built that was later promoted to Governor of Damascus and created a much larger, grander Palace for himself in the capital.
Note the striped stonework: the black is basalt, white is limestone and we’re not sure what stone gives the other colour – but it is certainly effective.
As in Hama the Palace is in three sections: selamlik, haremlik and hamam; but here they are much, much larger.
Damascus was very important to the Ottomans as it was a major staging post on the annual haj or pilgrimage to Mecca. One of the Governor of Damascus’ main functions was to ensure all the pilgrims passing through (and we are talking thousands of people here) were securely housed and fed.
To this end Azem also created an amazing caravanserai which we’ll show you in another article.
Apparently whilst his major building works were underway he employed virtually every trade and craftsman in the city for several years. Pity the poor Damascenes trying to get minor jobs done at that time!
As you can see from the photos, the Palace is centred on large shady courtyards with pools to further help with keeping cool in the summer.
The Azem family were either very well connected, or genuinely did a good job, as one or other male member of the family held the post of Governor of Damascus for most of the eighteenth century.
They continued to own the Palace until 1951 when the Syrian Government bought it and opened it as a museum.