Located below the fortress and in the middle of the historical district of Kavala, Imaret is a rare example in Europe, a masterpiece of 19th century Ottoman architecture. The complex included an elementary school (mekteb) and two higher level colleges (madrassas) dedicated to the instruction of the traditional Islamic curriculum and modern sciences, and a soup kitchen to feed students, travellers and the poor, regardless of religion.
The complex had 61 rooms for up to 300 boarding students, two study halls, a library and a printing press. To meet the religious and hygiene needs of its occupants, the complex also contained a place for prayer, fountains for ablutions and a hamam. Cisterns underneath the structure guaranteed a continuous source of water.
Descriptions of the life and atmosphere at the educational and charitable institution are available to us from English travellers of the time, who describe the Imaret and the smells from its kitchen with the huge cauldrons of soup and pilaf.
Imaret is one of the earliest examples of western style technical school providing secular education in the Ottoman Empire and reflects Mohammed Ali’s program of modernization.
With the passage of time, the charitable and educational purposes of the foundation declined. According to surviving records, the school continued to function as late as 1902, and the soup kitchen as late as 1923. After the Lausanne Treaty and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, the complex housed Greek refugees from Asia Minor (1927-1960).
In 1954, Imaret along with the house of Mohammed Ali’s family, were declared as protected historical monuments and recognized by the Greek State as Egyptian properties (waqfs).