The Azem Palace was built, in
the 18th century, as a palatial residence for Assad Pasha al-Azem,
Ottoman governor of
Damascus for 14 years. It is
considered a great example of Damascene houses.
The governor had diverted the
waters of Barada to his gardens and summoned most carpenters and
masons in Damascus. He also ordered for roman columns from Bosra to
be brought in along with the ancient paving of Banyas.
It is divided into separate
quarters, one for the kitchens, one for the haremlek, where the
governor's family used to live in private, and the third was the
selamlek where the governor and other male members of the family
would receive guests and conduct their business. Along the south
side of the selamlek is a liwan that is very deep into the wall to
free it from sunlight during the day. Next to this liwan is a room
where the governor would receive his guests, there is a beautiful
fountain at the center of its marble floor. The selamlek is, for the
most part, used as the Museum of Popular Arts and Tradition.
Each room is designed and decorated to show you some of the
typical Damascene traditions, including preparation for Hajj and
preparation for marriage.