Magazine article Geographical

Bygone Baghdad: The Recent Conflict in Iraq Has Left Many of Us with an Image of Baghdad That Revolves around Bomb Craters, Looting and Smoking Buildings. but It Wasn't Always Thus. in the First of a New Series, We Delve into the Archives of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to Show Another Side of the Metropolis Once Known as the City of Peace

Magazine article Geographical

Bygone Baghdad: The Recent Conflict in Iraq Has Left Many of Us with an Image of Baghdad That Revolves around Bomb Craters, Looting and Smoking Buildings. but It Wasn't Always Thus. in the First of a New Series, We Delve into the Archives of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to Show Another Side of the Metropolis Once Known as the City of Peace

Article excerpt

Baghdad, whose name means God-given in Persian, has shown remarkable resilience, withstanding centuries of invasions, floods, even plagues. Located in the historic Tigris-Euphrates valley, the city began life as a group of pre-Islamic settlements. In 762 AD, the second Abbasid caliph, Abu Ja'far al-Mansour, chose the site of modern Baghdad for his capital. He ordered a circular walled fortification to be built on the west bank of the Tigris and laid the first brick himself.

The city, then known as Madinat as-Salam, or City of Peace (a name that wasn't long in acquiring an ironic slant), quickly grew into an important commercial centre. During the Middle Ages it became a famous centre of learning and, as the capital of the caliphate, it was the cultural capital of the Islamic world. However, the caliphs' power gradually weakened, leading to much internal strife and even civil war. This culminated in the city's invasion in 1258 by Hulagu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan. …

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