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One of the most important archaeological buildings in Gaza City. It was built during the reign of the Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Baybars. It was also influenced by Ottoman architecture. It was called the Pasha’s Palace and the “Al Radwan” Palace, as it was the headquarters of the rule of their dynasty that ruled the Sanjak of Gaza (one of the Sanjaks of the Damascus State in the Ottoman Empire) and the Levant.

The function of the palace changed at the beginning of the twentieth century from an administration center for city governance to a police building and prison, and then to an educational institution.

It was then turned into a museum in 2010 and underwent important restoration work in 2015 that returned it to its original state, and displayed artifacts from various historical eras, including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic.

It was targeted by Israeli aircraft in December 2023 during its aggression against the Gaza Strip since October 2023, in addition to targeting a number of historical and archaeological sites, which the Palestinian authorities considered part of the occupation’s plan to obliterate and destroy the Palestinian national heritage.

the site

Al-Pasha Palace is located in the Al-Daraj neighborhood in the Old City, east of Gaza City.


The palace was built on an area extending to about 60 dunums (a dunum equals a thousand square metres). Its area was reduced to 600 square meters during the British Mandate due to demolition works that included parts of it and its extensive garden. The total area of ​​the palace’s courtyards and entrances is estimated at 6 dunums.

The palace consists of two separate buildings with a garden between them. The first building is designated for administration, and the second is a museum containing archaeological collections from different eras.

One of the statues displayed in one of the rooms of the Pasha Palace (Anatolia)

the date

The history of the building of the palace dates back to the Mamluk period, and according to historical sources, it was built by the governor of Gaza, Prince Jamal al-Din Aqush al-Shaqiqi, in 1260 AD, by order of the Mamluk Sultan al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baybars. Researchers infer this by the presence of his own emblem consisting of two lions facing each other at the main entrance of the palace, and during that period The period was called the Palace of the Representative.

During the Ottoman era, it was called the “Al Radwan Palace” in reference to the Radwan family, which ruled Gaza and most of Palestine for a century and a half between 1530 and 1681.

Napoleon Bonaparte stayed there during his campaign against Palestine in 1799 for three nights to rest before continuing on his way to Acre, where he was defeated before its walls.

The palace remained the headquarters of the governors of Gaza during the Ottoman era until the British took control of it (1917-1948). They made it a police station and turned two small rooms in its basement into a prison.

They allocated one for women, and the other for men.

After the partition of Palestine, the Gaza Strip became subject to Egyptian administration (1948-1967), during which the palace was converted into a school called “Princess Faryal” after the name of King Farouk’s daughter.

After the revolution of July 23, 1952, and during the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the name of the school was changed to “Fatima Al-Zahraa” Secondary School for Girls, and it remained that way until the year 2000, when the Palestinian Authority included it among the historical buildings.

A room in the Pasha Palace where the exhibition is located (Al Jazeera)

Its architecture

The palace combines architectural arts during the Mamluk (1260-1516 AD) and Ottoman (1516-1917) eras.

The architectural imprints of each era appear through the type of stones used on each floor, as the Mamluks relied on sandstones (karkar) in the construction of the ground floor, while the Ottomans used rock and limestone in the construction of the first floor.

The palace consists of two buildings. The first was called in the Ottoman era “Salamlik” (a term used to refer to the part designated for men), which was transformed into a museum, and the “Haramlik” (the part designated for women) became an administration building.

The facades of the two buildings and the lintels of their entrances are decorated with various shapes of plates, stars, muqarnas, and Islamic floral decorations such as the “spike plant,” and geometric decorations, most notably the “hexagons and octagons.”

On both sides of the door of the Salamlek building there is an inscription of two lions, which is the emblem that Sultan Baybars adopted for his state, and each one of them bears Arabic inscriptions, including “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger.”

The large room on the first floor - which was the residence of the Sultan in the Ottoman era - retains its original floor stones made of marble, in addition to the door sills retaining their natural marble.

As for the palace doors, they took the shape of an arch at the top, and the ceilings of the ground floors were designed in the shape of the domes for which Mamluk architecture was famous.

The Ottomans also added their mark to the palace, supporting the domes with pottery jars in the middle.

The Mamluks and Ottomans were interested in creating cabinets inside the palace rooms, similar in design to the shape of windows. They were designated for storing clothes or other items.

One of the stairs of the Pasha Palace leading to the second floor rooms (Al Jazeera)


After the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority took over the Pasha Palace, and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities included it among the archaeological buildings, restored it in 2005, and then turned it into an antiquities museum in 2010.

The palace witnessed other important restoration works within the United Nations Development Programme, funded by the German Development Bank.

The restoration process continued in two stages, the first stage in 2012 included installing new doors, windows and gates, restoring the facade and making minor repairs and modifications to the building internally.

The second phase, in 2015, included treating the interior and exterior walls of the palace, then plastering and painting them, in a way that preserved their ancient archaeological character.

At this stage, workers removed thick layers of plaster that covered the original walls and concealed architectural details, including arched niches and windows between rooms. The work team covered the palace's intersecting vaults with a special mixture of crushed clay, sand and lime, which is designed to draw moisture from the soft sandstone of which it is composed. Building.

The floor was restored to its previous condition, as the palace's supervisors during its period as a school had replaced the building's old tiles and replaced them with more modern ones.

The restoration team hired a craftsman specialized in making traditional Palestinian floor tiles.

Palace Museum

After the palace was transformed into a museum in 2010, 5 rooms were allocated to display archaeological collectibles, including coins, pottery tools, copper jugs, bronze and iron pieces, and others.

These rooms were divided according to eras, the first for the Roman era, the second for the Byzantine era, the third for displaying women’s adornments during all eras, the fourth was designated for displaying huge stones, columns and crowns, and the fifth contained artifacts dating back to the Islamic era.

Among the important pieces that the museum displays is a piece of pottery on which a “swan” bird is drawn, dating back to the “Philistian” era, and the “Psalms of David” manuscript, which is about two thousand years old and written in the ancient Armenian language. It is one of the only manuscripts in the world and includes praises, hymns, and hymns to our Prophet David.

The museum also includes a manuscript of the Holy Qur’an made of papyrus paper and dating back to the Ottoman period.


The palace was damaged by British bombing during World War I, as Gaza was the site of a violent battle between the British and Ottoman armies in 1917.

It was also subjected to vandalism and neglect during the Israeli occupation, and in the 1980s it was exposed to an intentional fire set by some settlers.

Israeli occupation aircraft bombed the ancient palace in December 2023 during its aggression against Gaza, which began in October 2023, which led to the demolition of large parts of it and turning it into a ruin that had not been seen since its construction seven centuries ago.

Source: Al Jazeera + websites