Essential Architecture-  Iraq

Saddam Hussein's Presidential Palace- Radwaniyah Palace




western Baghdad


c. 1990




reinforced concrete frame


  Palace Main Gate. Standing over 100 feet tall, this is the only building readily visible from Tikrit. Most of the buildings are hidden from public view behind 12 foot walls surrounding the compound.
  Exterior Images thanks to-
Radwaniyah Palace (also known as Al Radwaniyah Presidential Complex) is a palace in Baghdad, Iraq, which functioned as a presidential resort for the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein until it was taken over by US coalition forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Inside it was decorated with Italian marble, luxury furniture and monuments dedicated to Saddam. Located in western Baghdad, Radwaniyah Palace was the main presidential site for Saddam and was a typical Presidential site. It is bordered on the north by Qasr Tall Mihl and Al Urdun (Jordan) Street; on the south by sparse, outlying neighborhoods; on the east by suburbs Al 'Amiriyah and Hayy al-Furat; and on the west by Baghdad International Airport. High walls surround the former resort; watchtowers contribute to more readily maintaining surveillance and security for the site.

In addition to having two man-made hills and several man-made lakes, it houses two presidential palaces. The northern one usually goes by the more familiar name, Al Faw Palace. The southern one is known as the Victory Over Iran Palace.

Coalition installations Camp Liberty, Camp Victory and Camp Slayer used to occupy Al Radwaniyah's grounds.
At ease in Saddam's palace

· Dramatic tank raid into Baghdad
· US troops hold their ground
· Republican Guard 'smashed'

Suzanne Goldenberg in Baghdad, The Guardian, Tuesday 8 April 2003

US soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, including Staff Sergeant Chad Touchett, centre, after seizing the presidential palace in Baghdad

It takes a peculiar kind of genius to turn rank humiliation into triumph. On the western bank of the Tigris US soldiers were stealing the ashtrays from Saddam Hussein's palace and Iraqi soldiers were fleeing in their underpants. On the east a traffic policeman led a victory procession, revolver in his right hand, a Kalashnikov in his left, and a gold-framed portrait of the Iraqi leader.

A full eight hours after an audacious US army raid on the very heart of President Saddam's regime - a lavish riverside estate so terrifying to behold that Iraqi drivers beg visitors not to even point their fingers in its vicinity - the people of Baghdad had yet to absorb the message of America's excursion.

Baghdad was theirs to enter at will. Saddam's palace was their playground.

"We heard they went in, and we chased them out," said Haider Kamel, wearing his red waiter's uniform outside a restaurant on Sadoon street, a main artery in eastern Baghdad that was practically deserted yesterday.

"They didn't do anything. They didn't occupy anything. They can't do anything. They just came, and the army kicked them out."

Another man crowding around the pushcart of soft drinks chimed in: "It's American propaganda. They came with some troops and brought TV cameras just so they can say they occupied some area and after that they withdrew."

And so, despite the violation of his palace, President Saddam's regime, a brutal edifice built on 30 years of lies and fear, survived another day.

Immediately his minions set to work burnishing the legend of yet another Iraqi victory. "My feeling as usual is that we will slaughter them all, these invaders," the Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, said on the roof of the journalists' hotel. The smoke from the palace was still rising behind him. "They have no control even on themselves. Don't believe them. These invaders will be slaughtered."

Officials such as Mr Sahaf are practised at such ruses. President Saddam has spent the past 20 years leading his people from one ruinous war to another - against Iran in the 1980s and against Kuwait in 1991 - though neither is described as a defeat in the Iraqi lexicon. So the third war under his stewardship could be expected to end the same way - in a blazing triumph.

The endgame began around 8am yesterday when an unholy din erupted on the edges of the Tigris: tank and mortar fire from the Americans, and the thin staccato of machine guns and AK47s from the Iraqis.

From the eastern side of the river it seemed a full-scale invasion was under way. Days after their first false claim that they had entered the centre of Baghdad, the Americans were at last here. The outlines of four armoured vehicles hove into view, making their way north along the embankment. It was just about possible to see a scurrying motion lower down the riverbank: Iraqi troops running for their foxholes. Some, it later transpired, dived into the river in panic. Others turned up on the eastern shore in their underpants.

An oil tanker burst into flames, the one note of colour on a grey, hazy morning. Shortly before 9am there was another fireball as the corner of the palace walls was hit, amid crackling of ammunition being consumed in its flames.

Just over two hours later, the Iraqi authorities tried to demonstrate their continued mastery over the west bank of the Tigris, and the official buildings and palaces concen trated in the bend in the river that is the power centre of President Saddam. Journalists were herded on to buses and taken across the river, with much trepidation.

After trundling through the deserted streets of western Baghdad, the buses crossed the river to the information ministry, which had been briefly visited by an American tank during the excursion around Baghdad. A few Iraqi troops laughed and waved from their sandbags.

The buses proceeded up the road, arriving at the junction that leads to the towering Rashid hotel, when two shots rang out, confirming its capture yesterday by US forces, and its transformation into a sniper's position. Seven minutes after the tour of Iraqi-controlled Baghdad had started, the buses were in retreat.

By lunchtime renewed sounds of battle wafted across the Tigris from the palace, and south-western areas of Baghdad beyond. Iraqi fighters and the militias from the ruling Ba'ath party patrolled the streets, or huddled beneath highway overpasses, out of sight of American aircraft.

Two truckloads of troops crossed the river to the west, preparing to shore up defences. The soldiers cheered. A few took up the ritual chant: "With our blood and our spirit, we will sacrifice for Saddam."

But the costs of yesterday's encounter in the heart of Baghdad were undeniable.

At the casualty wards of al-Kindi hospital the wounded streamed in every few minutes: fighters with blood spurting from their boots, a middle-aged woman screaming as she was pulled out of a battered red Datsun. The doctors said she had strayed too close to the American tanks, firing at anyone and anything along their path as they made their way home after their adventures at Saddam's palace.

One fighter was rushed in with horrifically blackened face and arms, right hand raised as if in a salute, and chest scored by thin red gashes. His belly shuddered convulsively as he panted for breath. By late afternoon the elderly women in the blue smocks who rushed to meet each ambulance or battered civilian vehicle were clearly exhausted. The gurneys were encrusted with blood and feeding flies.

Two American fighters prowled overhead, circling low like predatory birds and firing with impunity.

A middle-aged man lumbered out of a beat-up car, clutching his shoulder. His name was Hussein Abdel Aziz, and he didn't even realise he had been hit when he sauntered eight houses up the road from his home at about 4.20pm. By then the doctors at al-Kindi reckoned they had received 20 dead and more than 120 wounded.

It was impossible to arrive at a tally for the Iraqi regular army troops and militias who had been killed defending President Saddam's palace as those casualties were taken to closed military hospitals.

But there was more to come. At about the same time a deep crimson stain was spreading over Mr Aziz's shoulder, a US aircraft was disgorging an enormous bomb on an upper-middle-class residential area in north-west Baghdad.

It exploded with awesome force, blowing out the windows along a stretch of one of the city's premier shopping streets, heaving metal gates into the air in the residential quarters inside, and obliterating any trace of two Christian families who had lived peacefully in the area for years.

As the acrid smell of burning metal mingled with the scent of ficus trees cut in two by the bomb, men staggered across the rubble, sobbing for their neighbours, subsumed by a huge yawning crater, perhaps 50 metres across. Adjoining homes were split open like dolls' houses.

"This was a house here," said one man. "They were my neighbours."

They were Sanaa Abdul Ahad and her daughters, Lara and Mariam, along with at least two other families who had fled to the Mansour district from other areas of Baghdad in an attempt to escape the American bombardments. Nine bodies were extracted from the earth by a giant bulldozer. As night fell, neighbours said at least a dozen more remained buried underneath.

If the Pentagon gives its account of the bombing of Mansour, it is likely to mention the bands of Iraqi fighters who have swarmed upon neighbourhoods such as this, seeking hideouts from which to harry the American invasion.

However, that is unlikely to console Abdul Masih Abdul Ahad, husband of Sanaa and father of Lara and Mariam, and the would-be protector of the distant relations he had taken in when the war started. He lost his entire world yesterday, and he sat, head lolling against a brick wall, weeping.

"I can't believe in anything more cruel than what has happened here," said his cousin, Ghazwan Noel.


The tourist office of the Babil Governorate in Iraq offers former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s bedroom in the Al-Hillah Presidential Palace. If you’re a journalist (who will hopefully write about your happy experience and sound sleep), you will get a discount. The Governorate of Babil launched the idea of double-occupancy room with view of the ruins for a honeymoon in Saddam’s king-size bed in his former palace in Babylon.

The authorities of the province, composed of Shiite majority, have decided to open to the public one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, with the enticing offer of restful sleep on the hanged dictator’s bed. Just shell out $180 a night for the vaunted opportunity. Again, that’s just $30 for you if you happen to be a journalist.

Saddam Hussein, one of the most murderous dictators in recent history, ruled Iraq between 1979 and 2003. He was overthrown following the US-led military invasion and executed on December 30, 2006 after being found guilty of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi judiciary. The dictator had dozens of luxurious palaces around the country. Babil is the centerpiece of a lush garden of palm trees, facing the Euphrates River, about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad.

In this Al-Hilla palace, there are 32 suites for rent. The most affordable room goes for 50 euros a night. Just let your mind go past the fact that, very recently, a bomb exploded in Al-Hilla and killed 10 people, and that the road from Baghdad has been dubbed ‘Triangle of Death.’

No wonder they give heavy discounts to those who want to live to tell the tale (journos).

This is macabre tourism on Saddam Hill.