Baghdad ( ) is the capital of Iraq and of Baghdad Governorate, with which it is coterminous. Having a municipal population estimated at 7.5 million, it is the largest city in Iraq and the second largest in the Arab World(after Cairo).
Located on the River Tigris, the city dates back to the 8th century and was once the centre of the Muslim world.
There have been several rival proposals as to its specific etymology. The most reliable and most widely accepted among these is that the name is a Kurdish and Turkish compound of Bağ "garden" + dād "fair", translating to "The fair Garden" , or Sanskrit compound of Bag[a] "god" + dād "given", translating to "God-given" or "God's gift", whence Modern Persian Baɣdād. Another leading proposal is that the name comes from Middle Persian Bāgh-dād "The Given Garden". The name is pre-Islamic and the origins are unclear, but it is related to previous settlements, which did not have any political or commercial power, making it a virtually new foundation in the time of the Abbasids. Mansur called the city “Madinat as-Salam”, or “City of Peace”, as a reference to paradise. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other things.
On 30 July 762 the caliph Abu Ja'far Al-Mansur founded the city. 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".  The city's growth was helped by its location, which gave it control over strategic and trading routes (along the Tigris to the sea and east-west from the Middle East to the rest of Asia). Monthly trade fairs were also held in this area. Another reason why Baghdad provided an excellent location was due to the abundance of water and its 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. Baghdad reached its greatest prosperity during the reign of the caliph Harun al-Rashid in the early 9th century. Zumurrud Khaton tomb in Baghdad,1932 Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, which was located some 30 km (20 miles) to the southeast, which had been under Muslim control since 637, and which became quickly deserted after the foundation of Baghdad. The site of Babylon, which had been deserted since the 2nd century BC, lies some 90 km (55 miles) to the south.
In its early years the city was known as a deliberate reminder of an expression in the Qu'ran, when it refers to Paradise . 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 grand city. The framework of the city itself is two large semicircles about twelve miles (19 km) in diameter. July was chosen as the starting time because two astronomers, Naubakht Ahvaz and Mashallah, believed that the city should be built under the sign of the lion, Leo . Leo is significant because he is the element of fire and symbolises productivity, proudness, and expansion. The bricks used to make the city were 18” 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. Also, throughout the city marble was used to make the buildings and marble steps led down to the river’s edge. Within the city there were many parks, gardens, villas, and beautiful promenades which gave the city an elegant and classy finish . 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 a ring of residential and commercial structures along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another ring, inside the first. In the centre 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 Arab urban design. The ancient Sasanian city of Gur is nearly identical in its general circular design, radiating avenues, and the government buildings and temples at the centre of the city.
The four surrounding walls of Baghdad were named Kufa, Basra, Khurasan, and Damascus; named because their gates pointed in the directions of these destinations . The distance between these gates was a little less than a mile and a half. Each gate had double doors that were made of iron; since the doors were so heavy it took several men to open and close them. The wall itself was about thick at the base and about thick at the top. Also, the wall was high, which included the merlons, a solid part of an embattled parapet usually pierced by embrasures. This wall was surrounded by another impressive wall that consisted of and was extremely thick. The second wall had towers and rounded merlons, which surrounded the towers. This outer wall was protected by solid glacis, which is made out of bricks and quicklime. Beyond the outer wall was a water filled moat .
In the middle of Baghdad, in the central square was the Golden Gate Palace. The Palace was the residence of the caliph and his family. In the central part of the building was a green dome that was 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 Amin the palace was no longer used as the home for the caliph and his family . The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Arab. The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from Khorasan, Iran[Need validation].
The Abbasid Caliphate was based on them being the descendants of the uncle of Muhammad and being part of the Quraysh tribe. They used Shi’a resentment, Khorasanian movement, and appeals to the ambitions and traditions of the newly conquered Persian aristocracy to overthrow the Umayyads . The Abbasids sought to combine the hegemony of the Arabic tribes with the imperial, court, ceremonial, and administrative structures of the Persians. The Abbasids considered themselves the inheritors of two traditions: the Arabian-Islamic (bearers of the mantle of Muhammad) and the Persian (successors to the Sassanid monarchs). These two things are evident from the construction, which is modeled after Persian structures and the need of Mansur to place the capital in a place that was representative of Arab-Islamic identity by building the House of Wisdom, where ancient texts were translated from their original language, such as Greek, to Arabic. Mansur is credited with the “Translation Movement” for this. The Arab structures are exemplified in how the city was built: round, which is why it is called the “Round City”. It is also near the ancient Sassanid imperial seat of Ctesiphon on the Tigris River .
Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad became a hub of learning and commerce. The House of Wisdom was an establishment dedicated to the translation of Greek, Middle Persian and Syriac works. Scholars headed to Baghdad from all over the Abbasid empire, facilitating the introduction of Greek and Indian science into the Arabic and Islamic world at that time. Baghdad was likely the largest city in the world from shortly after its foundation until the 930s, when it was tied by Córdoba. Several estimates suggest that the city contained over a million inhabitants at its peak. Many of the One Thousand and One Nights tales are set in Baghdad during this period. A portion of the population of Baghdad were non-Arabs such as Persians, Assyrians and Greeks. These communities gradually adapted Arabic language.
Suq al-Ghazel (The Yarn Bazaar) Minaret in Baghdad, Mesopotamia (Iraq). This is the oldest minaret in Baghdad. It belonged to the Caliph Mosque built by Caliph Muktafi 901–907 AD By the 10th century, the city's population was between 1.2 million and 2 million. 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 the Siberian steppes 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 Buyids dynasty of Shiites that 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 . On February 10, 1258, Baghdad was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, a grandson of Chingiz Khan during the sack of Baghdad. 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. The sack of Baghdad put an end to the Abbasid Caliphate, a blow from which the Islamic civilization never fully recovered.
At this point Baghdad was ruled by the Il-Khanids, the Mongol emperors of Iran. In 1401, Baghdad was again sacked, by Timur ("Tamerlane"). When his forces took Baghdad, he spared almost no one, and ordered that each of his soldiers bring back two severed human heads. It became a provincial capital controlled by the Jalayirid (1400–1411), Kara Koyunlu (1411–1469), Ak Koyunlu (1469–1508), and the Iranian Safavid (1508–1534) dynasties.
Baghdad,1930 In 1534, Baghdad was captured by the Ottoman Turks. Under the Ottomans, Baghdad fell into a period of decline, partially as a result of the enmity between its rulers and Persia, which did not accept the Turkish control of the city. Between 1623 and 1638, it was once again in Iranian hands. 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. The Nuttall Encyclopedia reports the 1907 population of Baghdad as 185,000.
Baghdad in 1932 Baghdad in the 1970s the unknown soldier monument in baghdad which was built in the 1980s Baghdad and southern Iraq were once again brought under Ottoman rule in 1638 and remained so until 1917 when captured by the British during World War I. From 1920, Baghdad became the capital of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia and, after 1932, Baghdad was the capital of the Kingdom of Iraq. Iraq was given formal independence in 1932 and increased autonomy in 1946. The city's population grew from an estimated 145,000 in 1900 to 580,000 in 1950 of which 140,000 were Jewish. In the 1920s, Baghdad was 40 percent Jewish. Jews made up the largest single community in the city and controlled up to 95 per cent of business.
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 Abdul Karim Kassem staged a coup to topple the Kingdom of Iraq. King Faisal II, former Prime Minister Nuri al-Said, former Regent Prince Abdul 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.
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. 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 1991 and 2003, the Gulf War and the Second Gulf War caused additional 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 Gulf Wars. Little effort was made by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to fix the damages between the wars.
The city is located on a vast plain bisected by the River Tigris. The Tigris splits Baghdad in half, with the eastern half being called 'Risafa' and the Western half known as 'Karkh'. The land on which the city is built is almost entirely flat and low-lying, being of alluvial origin due to the periodic large floods which have occurred on the river.
Baghdad has a hot arid climate (Koppen climate classification BWh) and is, in terms of maximum temperatures, one of the hottest cities in the world. In the summer from June to August, the average maximum temperature is as high as 44 °C (111 °F) accompanied by blazing sunshine: rainfall is almost completely unknown at this time of year. Temperatures exceeding 50 °C (122 °F) in the shade are by no means unheard of, and even at night temperatures in summer are seldom below 24 °C (75 °F). Because the humidity is very low (usually under 10%) due to Baghdad's distance from the marshy Persian Gulf, dust storms from the deserts to the west are a normal occurrence during the summer.
In the winter, from December to February, by contrast, Baghdad has maximum temperatures averaging 15 to 16 °C (59 to 61 °F). Minima can indeed be very cold: the average January minimum is around 4 °C (39 °F) but temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) are not uncommon during this season.
Annual rainfall, almost entirely confined to the period from November to March, averages around 140 millimetres (5.5 in), but has been as high as 575 millimetres (23 in) and as low as 23 millimetres (~1 in). On January 11, 2008, light snow fell across Baghdad for the first time in memory.
Baghdad Tower (previously called International Saddam Tower) opened in 1994 and includes a revolving restaurant and observation deck.It has however been damaged during the war Baghdad as seen by Spot Satellite
The city of Baghdad has 89 official neighbourhoods within 9 districts. These official subdivisions of the city served as administrative centres for the delivery of municipal services but until 2003 had no political function. Beginning in April 2003, the U.S. controlled Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) began the process of creating new functions for these. The process initially focused on the election of neighbourhood councils in the official neighbourhoods, elected by neighbourhood caucuses. CPA convened a series of meetings in each neighbourhood to explain local government, to describe the caucus election process and to encourage participants to spread the word and bring friends, relatives and neighbours to subsequent meetings. Each neighbourhood process ultimately ended with a final meeting where candidates for the new neighbourhood councils identified themselves and asked their neighbours to vote for them. Once all 88 (later increased to 89) neighbourhood councils were in place, each neighbourhood council elected representatives from among their members to serve on one of the city's nine district councils. The number of neighbourhood representatives on a district council is based upon the neighbourhood’s population. The next step was to have each of the nine district councils elect representatives from their membership to serve on the 37 member Baghdad City Council. This three tier system of local government connected the people of Baghdad to the central government through their representatives from the neighbourhood, through the district, and up to the city council.
The same process was used to provide representative councils for the other communities in Baghdad Province outside of the city itself. There, local councils were elected from 20 neighbourhoods (Nahia) and these councils elected representatives from their members to serve on six district councils (Qada). As within the city, the district councils then elected representatives from among their members to serve on the 35 member Baghdad Regional Council.
The final step in the establishment of the system of local government for Baghdad Province was the election of the Baghdad Provincial Council. As before, the representatives to the Provincial Council were elected by their peers from the lower councils in numbers proportional to the population of the districts they represent. The 41 member Provincial Council took office in February, 2004 and served until national elections held in January 2005, when a new Provincial Council was elected.
This system of 127 separate councils may seem overly cumbersome but Baghdad Province is home to approximately seven million people. At the lowest level, the neighbourhood councils, each council represents an average of 75,000 people.
The nine District Advisory Councils (DAC) are as follows:
A residential area on Haifa Street, Baghdad Albunneya mosque in Al-Alawi district Baghdad 1973
The city comprises the following smaller neighborhoods which may make up sectors of any of the districts above. The following is a selection of neighborhoods:
Iraqi Airways, the national airline of Iraq, has its headquarters on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad.
The Iraqi National Orchestra, officially founded in 1959, performing a concert in Iraq in July 2007. Baghdad has always played an important role in Arab cultural life and has been the home of noted writers, musicians and visual artists.
The dialect of Arabic spoken in Baghdad today differs from that of other large urban centres in Iraq, having features more characteristic of nomadic Arabic dialects (Verseegh, The Arabic Language). It is possible that this was caused by the repopulating of the city with rural residents after the multiple sacks of the late Middle Ages.
Two ballet dancers of the Iraqi National Ballet (which is based in Baghdad) performing a ballet show in Iraq in 2007. many events are hosted at the Baghdad Convention Center Some of the important cultural institutions in the city include:
The live theatre scene received a boost during the 1990s when UN sanctions limited the import of foreign films. As many as 30 movie theatres were reported to have been converted to live stages, producing a wide range of comedies and dramatic productions.
Institutions offering cultural education in Baghdad include the Academy of Music, Institute of Fine Arts and the Music and Ballet school Baghdad. Baghdad is also home to a number of museums which housed artifacts and relics of ancient civilizations; many of these were stolen, and the museums looted, during the widespread chaos immediately after U.S. forces entered the city.
During the 2003 occupation of Iraq, AFN Iraq ("Freedom Radio") broadcast news and entertainment within Baghdad, among other locations. There is also a private radio station called "Dijlah" (named after the Arabic word for the Tigris River) that was created in 2004 as Iraq's first independent talk radio station. Radio Dijlah offices, in the Jamia neighborhood of Baghdad, have been attacked on several occasions.
Points of interest include the National Museum of Iraq whose priceless collection of artifacts were 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 when the building burnt down during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Al Kadhimain Shrine in the northwest of Baghdad (in Kadhimiya) is one of the most important Shi'ite religious sites in Iraq. It was finished in 1515 and the 7th (Musa ibn Jafar al-Kathim) and the 9th Imams (Mohammad al-Jawad) were buried there. One of the oldest buildings is the 12th century or 13th century Abbasid Palace. The palace is part of the central historical area of the city and close to other historically important buildings such as the Saray Building and Al-Mustansiriyah School (From the Abbasid Period). Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) is Iraq's largest airport located 16km from Baghdad's central business district. It is the home of Iraq's national airline, Iraqi Airways.
<gallery> Image:Baghdad Train Station 1959.jpg|Baghdad train station 1959 (railway station). Image:Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad.jpg|The Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad, Iraq Image:Al-Khadhumain shrine in baghdad.jpg|Imam Al-Kadhim and Imam Al-Jawad shrine,in Kadhimyah Image:Abu Hanifa Mosque, 2008.jpg|Abu Hanifa Mosque,in Adhamiyah Image:Mustansiriya University CPT.jpg|Mustansiriya School Image:AlRashidHotelBaghdad.jpg|the infamous Al-Rasheed Hotel, one of Baghdad's premier 5 star hotels </gallery>
The Baghdad Zoo was the largest zoo in the Middle East. Within eight days following the 2003 invasion, however, only 35 of the 650 to 700 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 or water. Survivors included larger animals like lions, tigers, and bears. Notwithstanding the chaos brought by the invasion, South African Lawrence Anthony and some of the zoo keepers cared for the animals and fed the carnivores with donkeys they had bought locally. Eventually, Bremer ordered protection of the zoo, and American engineers helped reopen the facility.
Baghdad is home to some of the most successful football teams in Iraq, the biggest being Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Airforce club), Al Zawra, Al Shurta (Police) and Al Talaba (Students). The largest stadium in Baghdad is Al Shaab Stadium which was opened in 1966. Another, but much larger stadium, is still in the opening stages of construction.
The city has also had a strong tradition of horseracing ever since World War I, known to Baghdadis simply as 'Races'. There are reports of pressures by the Islamists to stop this tradition due to the associated gambling.
Baghdad Renaissance Plan]], with the Tahrir Square Development on the far right. Most Iraqi reconstruction efforts have been devoted to the restoration and repair of badly damaged urban infrastructure. More visible efforts at reconstruction through private development, like architect and urban designer Hisham N. Ashkouri's Baghdad Renaissance Plan and Sindbad Hotel Complex and Conference Center.  There are also plans to build a giant Ferris wheel akin to the London Eye. Iraq's Tourism Board also is seeking investors to develop a "romantic" island on the River Tigris in Baghdad that was once a popular honeymoon spot for newlywed Iraqis. The project would include a six-star hotel, spa, an 18-hole golf course and a country club. In addition, the go-ahead has been given to build numerous architecturally unique skyscrapers along the Tigris that would develop the city's financial centre in Kadhehemiah. In October, 2008, the Baghdad Metro resumed service. It connects the center to the southern neighborhood of Dora.
Al Rasheed Street, the dome of Hayder Khana's mosque on the left Haifa street, as seen from the Medical City Hospital across the Tigris River
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