A 109-year-old palace in Cairo has opened to the public following an $11 million restoration project.
Until now, there were rumours the palace was haunted with stories told of flashing lights inside. Several horror films have been filmed within its walls.
It was also thought that there were hidden tunnels and a tower built on a concrete base that moved every hour so occupants caught a 360-degree view of the neighbourhood and all rooms and halls caught the sun.
According to ABC News, the palace had stray dogs living within its walls and was decaying rapidly.
Located in the Heliopolis district of Egypt’s capital, the palace was built by Belgian millionaire Baron Edouard Louis Joseph Empain, who also built Paris’ underground in the 19th century.
Empain arrived in Egypt from India shortly after the Suez Canal opened and built the palace to live in.
It is modelled on the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia and Hindu Odisha temples and statues of figures from Hinduism and Buddhism decorate the exterior.
In 2005 the property was bought by Egypt’s housing ministry and the armed forces’ engineering authority began restoring it in mid 2017.
The opening, which was set to take place earlier this year but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is part of the government’s bid to revive the tourism industry.
As part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Egypt shut its airports in March and grounded almost all international flights which made a big impact on revenue.
Minister of Tourism Khaled Al-Anany has introduced a number of measures aimed at luring tourists back to the country, including a 20 per cent discount on museums and archaeological sites.
In a recent news conference, the civil aviation minister said flights would resume gradually from airports from the start of July.
Experts have warned that it’s too soon to open up the country as coronavirus is not yet under control in Egypt.
The country’s medical union warned last month that the health care system was close to collapse following years of government neglect and underfunding.