Umm Kulthum Museum & Monastirli Palace


in Cairo

Set in a peaceful Nileside garden, Monastirli Palace was built in 1851 for an Ottoman pasha whose family hailed from Monastir, in northern Greece. The salamlik (greeting area) that he built for public functions is an elegant venue for concerts, while the other part is the Umm Kulthum Museum, a shrinelike space dedicated to the most famous Arab diva.

The singer’s signature rhinestone-trimmed glasses and glittery gowns are hung under spotlights, and you can listen to her music and watch a fascinating biographical film (with English subtitles), which traces her career from the beginning when she performed disguised as a Bedouin boy, to her magnetic performances that brought Cairo to a standstill. The documentary's footage of her funeral, when millions of mourners flooded Cairo's streets, is worth a visit alone.