Montazah in Alexandria, is distinguished from other tourist sites in Egypt in that it is a place where the past and present intermingle. For the history buff it is a pleasure to roam around the vast estate where, before the July 23 Revolution, the royal family had their summer quarters and where the palace and the Salamlek (annex) can be seen. For those in search of the beautiful beaches, Montazah has facilities for rest and recreation. It has, in addition, magnificent gardens with royal palms that date, most appropriately, from the royal era.
The site, situated west of Alexandria, was developed over a century ago, in 1892, in the time of Khedive Abbas Helmi II, who built the Salamlek, which today faces the Palestine Hotel. The summer residence of the royal family is situated on an elevated mound overlooking a beautiful bay and beach, and the vast garden covers an area of 370 feddans.
When king Fouad came to the throne he built a bridge to join the palace to the Island of Dreams, which sounds somewhat romantic but was, in fact, a fairy-tale site covering about 13 feddans and with exotic plants, Byzantine style status and aquaria adorning various parts of the undulating land. There is also a delightful “kiosk” where the king and his friends used to enjoy their afternoon tea.
Later still, when king Farouk acceded to the throne, he built the famous clock of Montazah; whenever the clock strikes, a soldier appears from each of its four sides.
After the July 23 Revolution, Montazah was opened to the public, and visitors were permitted to enter various parts including the island, the bridge, the kiosk and the gardens. The Salamlek and the palace are not open for visiting.
About two million visitors visit Montazah every year. It is open all the year round and operates 24 hours a day and caters for all visitors requirements. It has various shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bazaars to cater for the visitors.
Not to be missed is the plant nursery and greenhouse: many tourist groups come to Montazah for the sole purpose of visiting them. The greenhouse has exotic plants that have thrived from the rule of King Fouad. It supplies all the plants needed in the gardens, and there is a surplus for sale.
Summer is here, the beaches are packed with holiday makers and Montazah is enjoying a bumper season.