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Baghdad

Capital city of Iraq

Top 10 Baghdad related articles

Baghdad

بَغْدَاد
Mayoralty of Baghdad
Clockwise from top: Aerial view of the Green Zone; the Iraq Museum; Al-Kadhimiya Mosque; Swords of Qadisiyah monument; and Al-Mustansiriya University
Seal
Nickname(s): 
The City of Peace (مدينة السلام)[1]
Baghdad
Location of Baghdad within Iraq
Baghdad
Baghdad (Arab world)
Baghdad
Baghdad (Asia)
Coordinates: 33°20′N 44°23′E / 33.333°N 44.383°E / 33.333; 44.383Coordinates: 33°20′N 44°23′E / 33.333°N 44.383°E / 33.333; 44.383(33°20′N 44°23′E / 33.333°N 44.383°E / 33.333; 44.383)
CountryIraq
GovernorateBaghdad
EstablishedAD 762
Founded byCaliph al-Mansur
Government
 • TypeMayor–council
 • BodyBaghdad City Advisory Council
 • MayorAlaa Al-Amari
Area
 • Total673 km2 (260 sq mi)
Elevation
34 m (112 ft)
Population
 • Estimate 
(2018)
8,126,755[2]
 • Rank1st
Demonym(s)Baghdadi
Time zoneUTC+3 (Arabian Standard Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (No DST)
Postal code
10001 to 10090
WebsiteMayoralty of Baghdad

Baghdad (/ˈbæɡdæd, bəɡˈdæd/; Arabic: بَغْدَاد[baɣˈdaːd] ( listen)) is the capital of Iraq and one of the largest cities in the Arab world, and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the Tigris, near the ruins of the Akkadian city of Babylon and the ancient Iranian capital of Ctesiphon, Baghdad was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center of the Muslim world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, including the House of Wisdom, as well as hosting a multiethnic and multireligious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning".

Baghdad was the largest city in the world for much of the Abbasid era during the Islamic Golden Age, peaking at a population of more than a million.[3] The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires. With the recognition of Iraq as an independent state (formerly the British Mandate of Mesopotamia) in 1932, Baghdad gradually regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arabic culture, with a population variously estimated at 6 or over 7 million.[note 1]

In contemporary times, the city has often faced severe infrastructural damage, most recently due to the Iraq War that lasted from 2003 until 2011, and the subsequent insurgency and later the renewed war that lasted from 2013 until 2017, resulting in a substantial loss of cultural heritage and historical artifacts.

Baghdad Intro articles: 12

Name

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic, and its origin is disputed.[8] The site where the city of Baghdad developed has been populated for millennia. By the 8th century AD, several villages had developed there, including a Persian[9][10] hamlet called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis.[11]

Arab authors, realizing the pre-Islamic origins of Baghdad's name, generally looked for its roots in Middle Persian.[8] They suggested various meanings, the most common of which was "bestowed by God".[8] Modern scholars generally tend to favor this etymology,[8] which views the word as a compound of bagh ( ) "god" and dād ( ) "given".[12][13] In Old Persian the first element can be traced to boghu and is related to Slavic bog "god",[8][14] A similar term in Middle Persian is the name Mithradāt (Mihrdād in New Persian), known in English by its Hellenistic form Mithridates, meaning "Given by Mithra" (dāt is the more archaic form of dād, related to Latin dat and English donor[8]). There are a number of other locations in the wider region whose names are compounds of the word bagh, including Baghlan and Bagram in Afghanistan, Baghshan in Iran,[15] and Baghdati in Georgia, which likely share the same etymological origins.[16][17]

A few authors have suggested older origins for the name, in particular the name Bagdadu or Hudadu that existed in Old Babylonian (spelled with a sign that can represent both bag and hu), and the Babylonian Talmudic name of a place called "Baghdatha".[8][18][19] Some scholars suggested Aramaic derivations.[8]

When the Abbasid caliph, Al-Mansur, founded a completely new city for his capital, he chose the name Madinat al-Salaam or City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name.[20][21] By the 11th century, "Baghdad" became almost the exclusive name for the world-renowned metropolis.

Baghdad Name articles: 14

History

Foundation

An 1808 picture of Baghdad from the print collection in Travels in Asia and Africa, etc. (ed. J. P. Berjew, British Library)

After the fall of the Umayyads, the first Muslim dynasty, the victorious Abbasid rulers wanted their own capital from which they could rule. They chose a site north of the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon, and on 30 July 762[22] the caliph Al-Mansur commissioned the construction of the city. It was built under the supervision of the Barmakids.[23] Mansur believed that Baghdad was the perfect city to be the capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. The Muslim historian al-Tabari reported an ancient prediction by Christian monks that a lord named Miklas would one day build a spectacular city around the area of Baghdad. When Mansur heard the story, he became very joyful, for legend has it, he was called Miklas as a child.[24] Mansur loved the site so much he is quoted saying: "This is indeed the city that I am to found, where I am to live, and where my descendants will reign afterward".[25]

The city's growth was helped by its excellent location, based on at least two factors: it had control over strategic and trading routes along the Tigris, and it had an abundance of water in a dry climate. Water exists on both the north and south ends of the city, allowing all households to have a plentiful supply, which was very uncommon during this time. The city of Baghdad soon became so large that it had to be divided into three judicial districts: Madinat al-Mansur (the Round City), al-Sharqiyya (Karkh) and Askar al-Mahdi (on the West Bank).[26]

Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sassanians, which was located some 30 km (19 mi) to the southeast. Today, all that remains of Ctesiphon is the shrine town of Salman Pak, just to the south of Greater Baghdad. Ctesiphon itself had replaced and absorbed Seleucia, the first capital of the Seleucid Empire, which had earlier replaced the city of Babylon.

According to the traveler Ibn Battuta, Baghdad was one of the largest cities, not including the damage it has received. The residents are mostly Hanbal. Baghdad is also home to the grave of Abu Hanifa where there is a cell and a mosque above it. The Sultan of Baghdad, Abu Said Bahadur Khan, was a Tatar king who embraced Islam.[27]

In its early years, the city was known as a deliberate reminder of an expression in the Qur'an, when it refers to Paradise.[28] It took four years to build (764–768). Mansur assembled engineers, surveyors, and art constructionists from around the world to come together and draw up plans for the city. Over 100,000 construction workers came to survey the plans; many were distributed salaries to start the building of the city.[29] July was chosen as the starting time because two astrologers, Naubakht Ahvazi and Mashallah, believed that the city should be built under the sign of the lion, Leo.[30] Leo is associated with fire and symbolises productivity, pride, and expansion.

The bricks used to make the city were 18 inches (460 mm) on all four sides. Abu Hanifah was the counter of the bricks and he developed a canal, which brought water to the work site for both human consumption and the manufacture of the bricks. Marble was also used to make buildings throughout the city, and marble steps led down to the river's edge.

The Round city of Baghdad between 767 and 912 AD

The basic framework of the city consists of two large semicircles about 19 km (12 mi) in diameter. The city was designed as a circle about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter, leading it to be known as the "Round City". The original design shows a single ring of residential and commercial structures along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another ring inside the first.[31] Within the city there were many parks, gardens, villas, and promenades.[32] There was a large sanitation department, many fountains and public baths, and unlike contemporary European cities at the time, streets were frequently washed free of debris and trash.[33] In fact, by the time of Harun al-Rashid, Baghdad had a few thousand hammams. These baths increased public hygiene and served as a way for the religious to perform ablutions as prescribed by Islam. Moreover, entry fees were usually so low that almost everyone could afford them.[34] In the center of the city lay the mosque, as well as headquarters for guards. The purpose or use of the remaining space in the center is unknown. The circular design of the city was a direct reflection of the traditional Persian Sasanian urban design. The Sasanian city of Gur in Fars, built 500 years before Baghdad, is nearly identical in its general circular design, radiating avenues, and the government buildings and temples at the centre of the city. This style of urban planning contrasted with Ancient Greek and Roman urban planning, in which cities are designed as squares or rectangles with streets intersecting each other at right angles.

Baghdad was a busy city during the day and had many attractions at night. There were cabarets and taverns, halls for backgammon and chess, live plays, concerts, and acrobats. On street corners, storytellers engaged crowds with tales such as those later told in Arabian Nights.[35]

Surrounding walls

The four surrounding walls of Baghdad were named Kufa, Basra, Khurasan, and Syria; named because their gates pointed in the directions of these destinations. The distance between these gates was a little less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi). Each gate had double doors that were made of iron; the doors were so heavy it took several men to open and close them. The wall itself was about 44 m thick at the base and about 12 m thick at the top. Also, the wall was 30 m high, which included merlons, a solid part of an embattled parapet usually pierced by embrasures. This wall was surrounded by another wall with a thickness of 50 m. The second wall had towers and rounded merlons, which surrounded the towers. This outer wall was protected by a solid glacis, which is made out of bricks and quicklime. Beyond the outer wall was a water-filled moat.

Golden Gate Palace

The Golden Gate Palace, the residence of the caliph and his family, was in the middle of Baghdad, in the central square. In the central part of the building, there was a green dome that was 39 m high. Surrounding the palace was an esplanade, a waterside building, in which only the caliph could come riding on horseback. In addition, the palace was near other mansions and officer's residences. Near the Gate of Syria, a building served as the home for the guards. It was made of brick and marble. The palace governor lived in the latter part of the building and the commander of the guards in the front. In 813, after the death of caliph Al-Amin, the palace was no longer used as the home for the caliph and his family.[36] The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Arabic script.[37][38] The two designers who were hired by Al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, a Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from Khorasan, Iran.[39]

Center of learning (8th to 9th centuries)

Courtyard of Mustansiriya madrasa, established by Al-Mustansir in 1227

Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad became a hub of learning and commerce. The city flourished into an unrivaled intellectual center of science, medicine, philosophy, and education, especially with the Abbasid Translation Movement began under the second caliph Al-Mansur and thrived under the seventh caliph Al-Ma'mun.[40] Baytul-Hikmah or the "House of Wisdom" was among the most well known academies,[41] and had the largest selection of books in the world by the middle of the 9th century. Notable scholars based in Baghdad during this time include translator Hunayn ibn Ishaq, mathematician al-Khwarizmi, and philosopher Al-Kindi.[41] Although Arabic was used as the international language of science, the scholarship involved not only Arabs, but also Persians, Syriacs,[42] Nestorians, Jews, Arab Christians,[43][44] and people from other ethnic and religious groups native to the region.[45][46][47][48][49] These are considered among the fundamental elements that contributed to the flourishing of scholarship in the Medieval Islamic world.[50][51][52] Baghdad was also a significant center of Islamic religious learning, with Al-Jahiz contributing to the formation of Mu'tazili theology, as well as Al-Tabari culminating in the scholarship on the Quranic exegesis.[40] Baghdad was likely the largest city in the world from shortly after its foundation until the 930s, when it tied with Córdoba.[53] Several estimates suggest that the city contained over a million inhabitants at its peak.[54] Many of the One Thousand and One Nights tales, widely known as the Arabian Nights, are set in Baghdad during this period. It would surpass even Constantinople in prosperity and size.[55]

Among the notable features of Baghdad during this period were its exceptional libraries. Many of the Abbasid caliphs were patrons of learning and enjoyed collecting both ancient and contemporary literature. Although some of the princes of the previous Umayyad dynasty had begun to gather and translate Greek scientific literature, the Abbasids were the first to foster Greek learning on a large scale. Many of these libraries were private collections intended only for the use of the owners and their immediate friends, but the libraries of the caliphs and other officials soon took on a public or a semi-public character.[56] Four great libraries were established in Baghdad during this period. The earliest was that of the famous Al-Ma'mun, who was caliph from 813 to 833. Another was established by Sabur ibn Ardashir in 991 or 993 for the literary men and scholars who frequented his academy.[56] Unfortunately, this second library was plundered and burned by the Seljuks only seventy years after it was established. This was a good example of the sort of library built up out of the needs and interests of a literary society.[56] The last two were examples of madrasa or theological college libraries. The Nezamiyeh was founded by the Persian Nizam al-Mulk, who was vizier of two early Seljuk sultans.[56] It continued to operate even after the coming of the Mongols in 1258. The Mustansiriyah madrasa, which owned an exceedingly rich library, was founded by Al-Mustansir, the second last Abbasid caliph, who died in 1242.[56] This would prove to be the last great library built by the caliphs of Baghdad.

Stagnation and invasions (10th to 16th centuries)

Al Khulafa mosque retains an Abbasid-era minaret
Zumurrud Khaton Tomb in Baghdad (built in 1202 AD), photo of 1932

By the 10th century, the city's population was between 1.2 million[57] and 2 million.[58] Baghdad's early meteoric growth eventually slowed due to troubles within the Caliphate, including relocations of the capital to Samarra (during 808–819 and 836–892), the loss of the western and easternmost provinces, and periods of political domination by the Iranian Buwayhids (945–1055) and Seljuk Turks (1055–1135).

The Seljuks were a clan of the Oghuz Turks from Central Asia that converted to the Sunni branch of Islam. In 1040, they destroyed the Ghaznavids, taking over their land and in 1055, Tughril Beg, the leader of the Seljuks, took over Baghdad. The Seljuks expelled the Buyid dynasty of Shiites that had ruled for some time and took over power and control of Baghdad. They ruled as Sultans in the name of the Abbasid caliphs (they saw themselves as being part of the Abbasid regime). Tughril Beg saw himself as the protector of the Abbasid Caliphs.[59]

Sieges and wars in which Baghdad was involved are listed below:

In 1058, Baghdad was captured by the Fatimids under the Turkish general Abu'l-Ḥārith Arslān al-Basasiri, an adherent of the Ismailis along with the 'Uqaylid Quraysh.[60] Not long before the arrival of the Saljuqs in Baghdad, al-Basasiri petitioned to the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Mustansir to support him in conquering Baghdad on the Ismaili Imam's behalf. It has recently come to light that the famed Fatimid da'i, al-Mu'ayyad al-Shirazi, had a direct role in supporting al-Basasiri and helped the general to succeed in taking Mawṣil, Wāsit and Kufa. Soon after,[61] by December 1058, a Shi'i adhān (call to prayer) was implemented in Baghdad and a khutbah (sermon) was delivered in the name of the Fatimid Imam-Caliph.[61] Despite his Shi'i inclinations, Al-Basasiri received support from Sunnis and Shi'is alike, for whom opposition to the Saljuq power was a common factor.[62]

Conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 CE

On 10 February 1258, Baghdad was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, a grandson of Chingiz Khan (Genghis Khan), during the siege of Baghdad.[63] Many quarters were ruined by fire, siege, or looting. The Mongols massacred most of the city's inhabitants, including the caliph Al-Musta'sim, and destroyed large sections of the city. The canals and dykes forming the city's irrigation system were also destroyed. During this time, in Baghdad, Christians and Shia were tolerated, while Sunnis were treated as enemies.[64] The sack of Baghdad put an end to the Abbasid Caliphate.[65] It has been argued that this marked an end to the Islamic Golden Age and served a blow from which Islamic civilisation never fully recovered.[66]

Central Asian Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur sacked the city and spared almost no one

At this point, Baghdad was ruled by the Ilkhanate, a breakaway state of the Mongol Empire, ruling from Iran. In August 1393, Baghdad was occupied by the Central Asian Turkic conqueror Timur ("Tamerlane"),[67] by marching there in only eight days from Shiraz. Sultan Ahmad Jalayir fled to Syria, where the Mamluk Sultan Barquq protected him and killed Timur's envoys. Timur left the Sarbadar prince Khwaja Mas'ud to govern Baghdad, but he was driven out when Ahmad Jalayir returned.

In 1401, Baghdad was again sacked, by Timur.[68] When his forces took Baghdad, he spared almost no one, and ordered that each of his soldiers bring back two severed human heads.[69] Baghdad became a provincial capital controlled by the Mongol Jalayirid (1400–1411), Turkic Kara Koyunlu (1411–1469), Turkic Ak Koyunlu (1469–1508), and the Iranian Safavid (1508–1534) dynasties.

Ottoman era (16th to 19th centuries)

In 1534, Baghdad was captured by the Ottoman Turks. Under the Ottomans, Baghdad continued into a period of decline, partially as a result of the enmity between its rulers and Iranian Safavids, which did not accept the Sunni control of the city. Between 1623 and 1638, it returned to Iranian rule before falling back into Ottoman hands. Baghdad has suffered severely from visitations of the plague and cholera,[70] and sometimes two-thirds of its population has been wiped out.[71]

For a time, Baghdad had been the largest city in the Middle East. The city saw relative revival in the latter part of the 18th century, under a Mamluk government. Direct Ottoman rule was reimposed by Ali Rıza Pasha in 1831. From 1851 to 1852 and from 1861 to 1867, Baghdad was governed, under the Ottoman Empire by Mehmed Namık Pasha.[72] The Nuttall Encyclopedia reports the 1907 population of Baghdad as 185,000.

20th and 21st centuries

The Shabandar Café in Baghdad, 1923

Baghdad and southern Iraq remained under Ottoman rule until 1917, when captured by the British during World War I. In 1920, Baghdad became the capital of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia with several architectural and planning projects commissioned to reinforce this administration.[73] After receiving independence in 1932, the capital of the Kingdom of Iraq. The city's population grew from an estimated 145,000 in 1900 to 580,000 in 1950. During the Mandate, Baghdad's substantial Jewish community comprised a quarter of the city's population.[74] On 1 April 1941, members of the "Golden Square" and Rashid Ali staged a coup in Baghdad. Rashid Ali installed a pro-German and pro-Italian government to replace the pro-British government of Regent Abdul Ilah. On 31 May, after the resulting Anglo-Iraqi War and after Rashid Ali and his government had fled, the Mayor of Baghdad surrendered to British and Commonwealth forces. On 14 July 1958, members of the Iraqi Army, under Abd al-Karim Qasim, staged a coup to topple the Kingdom of Iraq. King Faisal II, former Prime Minister Nuri as-Said, former Regent Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, members of the royal family, and others were brutally killed during the coup. Many of the victim's bodies were then dragged through the streets of Baghdad.

Freedom Monument, Tahrir square in Downtown Baghdad

During the 1970s, Baghdad experienced a period of prosperity and growth because of a sharp increase in the price of petroleum, Iraq's main export. New infrastructure including modern sewerage, water, and highway facilities were built during this period. The masterplans of the city (1967, 1973) were delivered by the Polish planning office Miastoprojekt-Kraków, mediated by Polservice.[75] However, the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s was a difficult time for the city, as money was diverted by Saddam Hussein to the army and thousands of residents were killed. Iran launched a number of missile attacks against Baghdad in retaliation for Saddam Hussein's continuous bombardments of Tehran's residential districts. In 1991 and 2003, the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq caused significant damage to Baghdad's transportation, power, and sanitary infrastructure as the US-led coalition forces launched massive aerial assaults in the city in the two wars. Also in 2003, a minor riot in the city (which took place on 21 July) caused some disturbance in the population. The historic "Assyrian Quarter" of the city, Dora, which boasted a population of 150,000 Assyrians in 2003, made up over 3% of the capital's Assyrian population then. The community has been subject to kidnappings, death threats, vandalism, and house burnings by al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups. As of the end of 2014, only 1,500 Assyrians remained in Dora.[76] The Iraq War took place from 2003-2011, but an Islamist insurgency lasted until 2013. It was followed by another war from 2013-2017 and a low-level insurgency from 2017, which included suicide bombings in January 2018, and January 2021.[77]

Baghdad History articles: 165

Main sights

Al-Mutanabbi Statue at the end of Mutanabbi Street beside the Tigris

Points of interest include the National Museum of Iraq whose collection of artifacts was looted during the 2003 invasion, and the iconic Hands of Victory arches. Multiple Iraqi parties are in discussions as to whether the arches should remain as historical monuments or be dismantled. Thousands of ancient manuscripts in the National Library were destroyed under Saddam's command.

Mutanabbi Street

Mutanabbi Street is located near the old quarter of Baghdad; at Al Rasheed Street. It is the historic center of Baghdadi book-selling, a street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. It was named after the 10th-century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi.[78] This street is well established for bookselling and has often been referred to as the heart and soul of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community.

Baghdad Zoo

The zoological park used to be the largest in the Middle East. Within eight days following the 2003 invasion, however, only 35 of the 650 animals in the facility survived. This was a result of theft of some animals for human food, and starvation of caged animals that had no food. Conservationist Lawrence Anthony and some of the zoo keepers cared for the animals and fed the carnivores with donkeys they had bought locally.[79][80] Eventually Paul Bremer, Director of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq after the invasion, ordered protection for the zoo and enlisted U.S. engineers to help reopen the facility.[79]

Grand Festivities Square

Grand Festivities Square is the main square where public celebrations are held and is also the home to three important monuments commemorating Iraqi's fallen soldiers and victories in war; namely Al-Shaheed Monument, the Victory Arch and the Unknown Soldier's Monument.[81]

Al-Shaheed Monument

Al-Shaheed Monument, also known as the Martyr's Memorial, is a monument dedicated to the Iraqi soldiers who died in the Iran–Iraq War. However, now it is generally considered by Iraqis to be for all of the martyrs of Iraq, especially those allied with Iran and Syria fighting ISIS, not just of the Iran–Iraq War. The monument was opened in 1983, and was designed by the Iraqi architect Saman Kamal and the Iraqi sculptor and artist Ismail Fatah Al Turk. During the 1970s and 1980s, Saddam Hussein's government spent a lot of money on new monuments, which included the al-Shaheed Monument.[82]

Qushla

Qushla clock tower

Qushla or Qishla is a public square and the historical complex located in Rusafa neighborhood at the riverbank of Tigris. Qushla and its surroundings is where the historical features and cultural capitals of Baghdad are concentrated, from the Mutanabbi Street, Abbasid-era palace and bridges, Ottoman-era mosques to the Mustansariyah Madrasa. The square developed during the Ottoman era as a military barracks. Today, it is a place where the citizens of Baghdad find leisure such as reading poetry in gazebos.[83] It is characterized by the iconic clock tower which was donated by George V. The entire area is submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tentative list.[84]

Mosques

  • A'dhamiyyah is a predominantly Sunni area with a Masjid that is associated with the Sunni Imam Abu Hanifah. The name of Al-Aʿẓamiyyah is derived from Abu Hanifah's title, al-Imām al-Aʿẓam (the Great Imam).[88][89]

Firdos Square

Firdos Square is a public open space in Baghdad and the location of two of the best-known hotels, the Palestine Hotel and the Sheraton Ishtar, which are both also the tallest buildings in Baghdad.[90] The square was the site of the statue of Saddam Hussein that was pulled down by U.S. coalition forces in a widely televised event during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Baghdad Main sights articles: 31