Museums In Kuwait
The Seif Palace
The Seif Palace is popular among local and overseas visitors as the home of the royal family. Nevertheless, they might be surprised to find out that this palace does not get much used by the Monarch and the government. While it is true that this palace is designated to the Emir dynasty, the household personally chose to stay in Bayan Palace which is known as the official house of the Emir and this is also the place where the monarch would entertain his dignitaries. Therefore, the Seif palace only serves as the court if there are special celebrations and events, or if the Bayan Palace is not available. However, thousands of travelers every year go to see this fine building.
Built in 1896 by Sheikh Mubarak, the palace is a focal point of Kuwait city and it is considered as integral part of Kuwait’s city and its progress. The palace is also a wonderful example of Islamic architecture with original Islamic mosaic tile works. The overall area of the palace is 450000 sqm including an artificial lake, landing field for the helicopters and a dock for the yachts. After 3 years of its construction, Sheikh Mubarak decided to expand his palace by adding on another wing, which was constructed using the same architectural style. The building was completed by the end of 1910 and it became one of the most beautiful in Kuwait. On 1913, Seif Palace became the first building in Kuwait to have electricity.
Sheikh Mubarak hosted many esteemed guests in his palace, including the British Viceroy to India in 1915 and the Danish explorer and photographer Ronkier Lens in 1912.
One of the reasons why tourists love to visit the Seif Palace is its spectacular architecture. On February 7th 1917, the door of the palace connecting the first floor of the east wing with the ground floor is inscribed with the famous writing on top: "if it had lasted for others, it wouldn't have passed to you".
In terms of size, it is quite enormous for an almost vacant building. Getting around this palace on foot is exhausting for some citizens and it occupies most of the space in the Grand Mosque’s waterfront. The neo Arabic watch tower in the palace is immensely popular and can compete against Britain’s Big Ben. This structure is covered with blue tiles and a dome that is plated with pure gold. Clay, metal, wood, limestone and even loose rocks which were collected nearby were used in its construction. Surrounding the palace is a spacious garden, which contain giant hedges that are frequently being sculpted. The garden is also equipped with a variety of flora and fauna, which visitors will enjoy looking at. These plants are maintained or replaced depending on the season.
Another reason why people are charmed by the Seif Palace is its seclusion. Who doesn’t like to explore the secrecy and have adventure? Local and overseas residents are inquisitive as to why civilians are not permitted inside the palace. Their curious natures are more enhanced by the fact that extended wait outside the building is discouraged, and taking pictures is also a big ‘no-no’. Normally pictures of the construction are taken in secret from inside vehicles. The sightseers are forbidden to go anywhere near the entrance doors, however they can still go around the gardens. Finally, if visitors are still intent to know more about what goes inside this castle, there are plenty of books and documentaries in the library, which will give them very detailed information.
Dating back to 1880, the Seif Palace which was the original seat of the Government of Kuwait was severely damaged during Iraqi invasion. Iraqi troops plundered and damaged the Palace buildings, then wrecked them with artillery shelling, gunfire and firebombing. The Seif Palace attack was part of a campaign to wipe out Kuwait's national identity.
The government decided to refurbish the palace complex due to the historic importance of the buildings. The scope of the refurbishment work included introducing modern amenities in all the wings and renovating several buildings to create an art gallery, a museum and office spaces. These renovations also required the construction of a new central plant for providing electrical and mechanical services to the entire complex.
The palace was expanded with a total area of 16,000 sqm to include ten buildings. Refurbishment work required extensive research to recognize the original features and finishes of the buildings to make sure that the renovations matched as much of the original building as possible.
How to go?
Seif palace is located on the Arabian Gulf Street between Grand Mosque and National Museum. The palace is located opposite to Grand mosque near Souq Sharq Mall. What's great about the Seif Palace is its location, so visitors can be assured that they can quickly reach this place by public transports.
Things to remember
- Visitors will not be allowed to enter the palace and will not see much from the outside since it is surrounded by high walls.
- Visitors who are interested in visiting Kuwait traditional architecture it is recommended that they consider visiting the old Seif palace.
- Many features of Islamic architecture can be seen throughout Al Seif Palace, such as the use of arches, wooden oriels and Islamic arabesque - sadly visitors at present cannot see all of these.
Address: Al Diwan Al Amiri, Al Sief Palace – Building 100, Kuwait city
Tel: +965 1888881
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