Villa Casdagli – Kasr al-Dubara – Early 1900s
In the early 1900s Emmanuel and Maria purchased a very lavish house in Cairo that was later known as ‘Kersal Villa’ but more usually ‘Kasr-el-Doubara’, after the square or Midan on which it was built; only in more recent times – named nostalgically by others – has it become ‘Villa Casdagli’. It was built in the early 1900s in what became an exclusive residential quarter outside the old city, and was followed by the creation of the Garden City further downstream on the left bank of the Nile. Egyptian royalty had also built in the neighborhood of the Casdaglis’ house, and facing it across the Midan Kasr-el-Doubara was the palace of the Khedive’s mother; “Kasr” is the Arabic word for “palace”.
Villa was designed by an Austrian architect, Edward Matasek (1867-1912), which explains its Central European style. Matasek was responsible for numerous buildings in the city, including the main synagogue – an extraordinary blend of Viennese Secession and quasi-Babylonian motifs. He also designed the Austrian hospital, the German school and the main covered market. Lavishly decorated villa may have been commissioned by the Khedive’s banker Felix Saures, who with his brothers did much to develop Cairo and its transport system at the end of the 19th century. Suares died in 1906, and his house was probably sold to Emmanuel Casdagli by his heirs in about 1909.
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