Baghdad sights

Baghdad sights Last updated on Tuesday 20th April 2010

The city of Baghdad once had many interesting museums and mosques, which, if Iraq is ever re-opened to the outside world, could prove fascinating to the visitor.

Allied bombing of Baghdad during the Gulf War, of course, leaves considerable doubt as to the continued intact existence of these buildings. They are listed below, nonetheless.
Iraqi Museum

Situated in the Karkh district, this has 28 galleries, making it the largest museum in the Middle East.

Exhibits cover a time-span from 100,000 years ago to well into the Islamic period. One of its most fascinating exhibits is a 10,000-year-old pebble with twelve deep scratches on its surface, which is thought to be one of the first calendars. Also, a Sumerian seal dating from about 5,000 years ago, shows the first pictorial representation of two people shaking hands.

Some of the objects on display here are reproductions, with their originals removed by conquering nations to be displayed in foreign museums. The Louvre in Paris, London's British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania Museum in the US all contain antiquities from ancient Mesopotamia. Some pieces have been returned, but the effective closure of the country seems to preclude any further returns for the foreseeable future.
Mustansiriyah School

Built in the 13th century, during the reign of the 37th Abbasid caliph, Mustansir Billah, this was once a highly-esteemed university.
Abbasid Palace

Built in the same era and in the same architectural style as the Mustansiriyah School, the palace overlooks the Tigris.
Khan Murjan

Originally designed as an inn for traveling merchants, and the dwelling place of many university scholars, this was built in the 14th century, and has a central hall more than 45 feet high. The crenellated arches of brick and perforated windows make this a fascinating piece of architecture.

The building was reputedly in a state of disrepair for over two centuries, with waist-high flood water from the Tigris standing in the famous hallway. By the mid-80s, the building had been restored and was in use as a restaurant.
Al-Khadhimain Mosque

This is one of the most important mosques in the Islamic world, with gold-capped domes and minarets rising above its courtyard. The mosque was built on the site of the shrines of two imams (Musa al-Kadhim and Muhammed al-Jawad) said to be descendants of the Prophet. The building dates from the early 16th century.
Baghdad Museum

Contains life-size models of the traditional life of Baghdad presented in tableau form.
Museum of Popular Heritage

This is a collection of traditional old Baghdadi houses, and contains displays of traditional crafts, such as basketwork, carpets, woodwork and metalwork.
Murjaniya School

Originally built in 1357, this school building was demolished in the early part of the twentieth century and rebuilt as a mosque, known today as the Marjan Mosque.
Museum of Pioneer Arts

This is another old Baghdadi house, built in 1922, with rooms constructed around a central courtyard containing a fountain. It is furnished with traditional old Baghdadi furniture and has an interesting collection of paintings on display.
Saddam Arts Centre

This features modern works, chiefly by artists of the 70s and 80s.

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