004 Shrine of Zumurrud Khatun, Baghdad 005 Madrasa al-Mustansiriya, Baghdad 007 Abbasid Palace, Baghdad
008 Iraqi artefacts 011 Hussein Monuments 015 Al Kadhimain Mosque, Baghdad
016 Mustansiriya University, Baghdad 012 Khan Mirjan in Baghdad 024 Saddam Hussein's Presidential Palace
Babylon (55 miles south of Baghdad)    
023 King Nebuchadnezzar's Palace in Ancient Babylon 013 Ancient City and Walls of Babylon - Hanging Gardens of Babylon 014 Ishtar Gate
002 Samarra, Great (or al-Mutawakkil) Mosque 003 Dur (near Samarra), Shrine of Imam Dur 010 Al Askari Mosque
001 Kufa, Reconstruction of Great Mosque 006 Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala 009 Imam Ali Mosque, Najaf, Iraq.
025 Hatra (WHS) 026 Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (WHS) 027 Ziggurat of Ur, Dhi Qar Province
The minaret of ‘Anah
028 The minaret at Anah. 017 The ancient citadel of Arbil. 018 A traditional house in Basra.
019 The fourth-century arch at Ctesiphon 020 Imam Yahya Abul Qasim in Mosul. 021 Al-Ukhaidir Fortress
022 Delal Bridge, Zakho    

Nestled between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (Dijla and Furat in Arabic), modern Iraq lies on fertile land that includes ancient Mesopotamia. Long before the great civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, advanced cultures flourished in the Mesopotamian plain. Cobblestone streets, city building, and architecture itself have their beginnings in Mesopotamia. Indeed, some archaeologists believe that this region is the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Because it lies at the cradle of civilization, the Mesopotamian plain contains archaeological and architectural treasures that date back to the beginning of human history. In the busy city of Baghdad, exquisite medieval buildings tell the stories of many different cultures and religious traditions.

In recent years, the architectural treasures of Iraq were jeopardized by war. Military facilities were often placed dangerously close to great structures and important artifacts, making them vulnerable to blasts. Also, many monuments suffered due to looting and neglect.

Whether or not the war in Iraq could be justified, there is no doubt that the country holds priceless architecture that must be preserved. Follow the links below for photos from Baghdad and Babylon.
The Republic of Iraq, usually known as Iraq (Arabic: العراق (help·info), IPA: ʕiˈrɑːq), is a country in the Middle East spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert[1]. It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline at Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf. There are two major flowing rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the desert landscape that covers most of the Middle East.

Iraq is a developing parliamentary democracy composed of 18 governorates (known as muhafadhat). The capital city, Baghdad, is in the center-east. Iraq's rich history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the Fertile Crescent—the cradle of civilization—and the birthplace of writing. During its long history, Iraq has been the center of the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Abbasid empires, and part of the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Parthian, Umayyad, Sassanid, Ottoman and British empires.

Since an invasion in 2003, a multinational coalition of forces, mainly American and British, has occupied Iraq. The invasion has had wide-reaching consequences: increased civil violence, political breakdown, the removal and execution of former president Saddam Hussein, and national problems in the development of political balance, economy, infrastructure, and use of the country's huge reserves of oil. According to the 2007 Failed States Index, produced by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, Iraq has recently emerged as the world's second most unstable country,[2] after Sudan.[3]


Ancient Mesopotamia

The upper part of the stela of Hammurabi's code of laws

The region of Iraq was historically known as Mesopotamia (Greek: "between the rivers"). It was home to the world's first known civilization, the Sumerian culture, followed by the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures, whose influence extended into neighboring regions as early as 5000 BC. These civilizations produced the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies of the world; hence its common epithet, the "Cradle of Civilization".

In the sixth century, Cyrus the Great conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and Mesopotamia was subsumed in the Achaemenid Persian Empire for nearly four centuries. Alexander the Great conquered the region again, putting it under Macedonian rule for nearly two centuries. A Central Asian tribe of ancient Iranian peoples known as the Parthians later annexed the region, followed by the Sassanid Persians. The region remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until the 7th century.

Islamic Caliphate

Beginning in the seventh century AD, Islam spread to what is now Iraq during the Islamic conquest of Persia, led by the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law Ali moved his capital to Kufa "fi al-Iraq" when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Cordoba.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as their capital, and it became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million, and was the centre of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the sack of Baghdad in the 13th century.

Mongol Conquest

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire's forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu demanded surrender but the caliph refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bayt al-Hikma, lit., House of Wisdom), which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city would never regain its status as major center of culture and influence.

In 1401, warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Bagdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).[5]

Ottoman Empire

Later, the Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535. The Ottomans lost Baghdad to the Iranian Safavids in 1609, and took it back in 1632. From 1747 to 1831, Iraq was ruled, with short intermissions, by the Mamluk officers of Georgian origin who enjoyed local autonomy from the Sublime Porte. In 1831, the direct Ottoman rule was imposed and lasted until World War I, during which the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers.

During World War I the Ottomans were driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, though only 112,000 were combat troops.

During World War I the British and French divided the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres, which was ratified in the Treaty of Lausanne, led to the advent of the modern Middle East and Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Iraq and Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

British troops entering Baghdad, 1917.    the architecture you must see