Beit al-Aqad (بيت العقاد) is a beautifully restored Damascene house formerly owned by a wealthy family of textile merchants. It currently houses the Danish Institute, which opened in 2000 and focuses on the study of Arab and Islamic culture and on the strengthening cultural ties between Denmark and the Arab world. Elements of the residence date as far back as the Roman period, with the theater built by Herod the Great forming part of the building’s outer walls. Most of the present construction dates from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods.
Typical of most Damascene houses, the focal point is a large rectangular courtyard with a central fountain. On the northern end of the courtyard is an impressive façade featuring Mamluk-era stone decoration. Beyond this façade is a remarkable summer reception hall with high ceilings and an interior fountain. There is a large iwan on the southern end of the courtyard, also dating back to the late 15th century. The winter reception hall, in the southeastern corner, was built in the 18th century. The rooms on the western and eastern sides of the courtyard are more recent, dating to the late Ottoman period.
The Danish Institute has a fifty year lease on the residence in an agreement with the Ministry of Culture, whereby the Danish Institute is responsible for all restoration and maintenance costs associated with the house but pays no rent. The restorations have been performed in cooperation between the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and Danish experts. Beit al-Aqad (بيت العقاد) is open to visitors free of charge throughout the day, and often hosts cultural events as well.
Getting There: Beit al-Aqad (بيت العقاد) is located in the west of the old city of Damascus (دمشق). The entrance is on the southern side of a small street just south of, and running parallel to, Madhat Basha Market (سوق مدحت باشا). It is approximately one hundred and fifty meters southwest of Khan Assad Basha (خان اسعد باشا).
Coordinates: 33°30’30.00″N / 36°18’19.00″E
Transliteration Variants: Beit al-Aqqad
Rating: (4.5 / 10)