Bayt Farhi and the Forgotten Palaces of Ottoman Damascus

NOV 20, 2013 | 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 20, 2013: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM





The Sephardic Farhi family of Damascus achieved unprecedented levels of economic and political power in late 18th and early 19th century Syria by serving various governors of Acre and Damascus as financial administrators and political fixers. Their meteoric rise to power and subsequent decline into oblivion is only part of their remarkable tale. One important, but largely unknown, aspect of their history was their primary residence, the palatial Bayt Farhi. Lavish stonework, stunning ‘ajami rooms and exceptional inscriptions made Bayt Farhi one of the grandest and most significant mansions in late Ottoman Damascus. 

Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis holds a BA from Cornell University and Masters and Doctoral Degree from Oxford University and is a visiting assistant professor at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she also serves as the Deputy Executive Officer of the MA in Liberal Studies. She sits on the executive committee and governing board of the Archaeological Institute of America. She has published widely on the art, the architecture, and archaeology of the Classical and Islamic worlds and has just completed a manuscript on Bayt Farhi. She is the Contributing Editor for the Arts of the Islamic World at, part of the Khan Academy.