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Baghdad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Baghdad (Arabic: , Badd, IPA: [bdd]) is the capital of the Republic of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Province. The population of Baghdad as of 2011 is approximately 7,216,040, making it the largest city in Iraq,[1][2] the second largest city in the Arab World (after Cairo, Egypt), and the second largest city in Western Asia (after Tehran, Iran). Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic World. This in addition to housing several key academic institutions (e.g. House of Wisdom) garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning". Throughout the High Middle Ages, Baghdad was considered to be the largest city in the world with an estimated population of 1,200,000 people.[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 1938, Baghdad gradually regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arabic culture. In contemporary times the city has often faced severe infrastructural damage, most recently due to the American-led foreign occupation in March 2003 that lasted until December 2011 and the subsequent sectarian violence. In recent years the city has been a frequent subject to insurgency activities and terrorist attacks. Toponym

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic and its origins are unclear, but it is related to previous settlements, which did not have any political or commercial power. The name has been found as Baghdadu on Assyrian cuneiform records of the 9th century BC, and on Babylonian bricks bearing the Royal Seal of King Nebuchadnezzar (6th century BC).[4][better source needed] 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. By the 11th century, "Baghdad" became almost the exclusive name for the world-renowned metropolis. There are several rival theories as to the etymology of the specific name Baghdad. The most widely accepted among these is that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bag "god" + dd "given", translating to "God-given" or "God's gift", from which comes Modern Persian Badd. This in turn can be traced to Old Persian.[14] A less probable guess is the Persian compound B "garden" + dd "fair", translating to "The fair garden". 1

On 30 July 762 the caliph Al Mansur commissioned the construction of the city and it was built under the supervision of the Barmakids.[15] Mansur believed that Baghdad was the perfect city to be the capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. 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".[16] The city's growth was helped by its location, which gave it control over strategic and trading routes, along the Tigris. A reason why Baghdad provided an excellent location was the abundance of water and the dry climate. Water exists on both north and south ends of the city gates, allowing all households to have a plentiful supply, which was very uncommon during this time. Zumurrud Khaton tomb in Baghdad (built in 1202 AD), photo of 1932. Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, 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. Seleucia had earlier replaced the city of Babylon. In its early years the city was known as a deliberate reminder of an expression in the Qur'an, when it refers to Paradise.[17] Four years before Baghdad's foundation, in 758, 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. July was chosen as the starting time because two astrologers, Naubakht Ahvaz and Mashallah, believed that the city should be built under the sign of the lion, Leo.[18] 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 Hanifa was the counter of the bricks and he developed a canal, which brought water to the work site for the use of both human consumption and the manufacturing of the bricks. Marble was also used to make buildings throughout the city, and marble steps led down to the river's edge. 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 in diameter, leading it to be known as the "Round City". The original design shows as single ring of residential and commercial structures along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another ring inside the first.[19] Within the city there were many parks, gardens, villas, and promenades.[20] 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.