Founded in 762 as the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad remains the largest and one of the most important cities in Iraq. Situated 1,000km away from the Arabian Gulf, along the Tigris river, its location reflects its history as the former centre of the Islamic world.
Upon its construction, Baghdad caused a desertion of Ctesiphon, the then capital of the Persian Empire, located 30km away. And additionally, the famous site of Babylon sits around 85km to the south.
Its location was chosen for its proximity to water, relatively mild climate and its links to regional and international trade, all of which helped turn Baghdad into one of the healthiest educational hubs in the Islamic world. As trade grew, the combination of cultures helped create a diverse knowledge-based population. And for centuries, Baghdad was seen as the cultural centre of the Arab world.
The Arabic Free Verse Movement began there, forged by Iraqi poets. And many sculptors, painters and writers came before it. Many of the works remain within the walls of the city’s museums, which exhibit a flurry of unique archaeological articles from ancient Mesopotamian history.
Many of the great Baghdadi museums and structures remain, and those that have suffered damages from conflict have mostly been renovated. Moreover, the city boasts a wide range of hotels with some fine dining options.
There’s also an endless list of cultural delights to see, including the intriguing Al-Shaheed Monument and the Aljawadain Holy Shrine.
Unfortunately, Baghdad’s recent history is turbulent, bearing witness to a series of conflicts. Due to the current situation, visitors should do their research and take extra caution before planning a trip.