World Travel GuidesSamarra Archaeological City, Iraq

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Spiral Minaret of Samarra, Iraq
Spiral Minaret of Samarra, Iraq,_Iraq.jpg
Jim Gordon

Samarra Archaeological City are the ancient ruins of the powerful Islamic capital city of Samarra. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, about 125 kilometers to the north of Baghdad. Today archaeologists are uncovering a vast site of mudbrick ruins. Perhaps the most famous structure in Samarra is the Spiral Minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra, built in the 9th century. Called Malwiya, meaning "snail shell", the minaret is a spiralling cone that is 52 meters tall. A spiral ramp allows people to climb to the top, where there is a small cylindrical room measuring some six meters in radius.

Also preserved within the Samarra Archaeological City are the two largest mosques, namely the Al-Malwiya and the Abu Dulaf, as well as the largest palaces in the Islamic world, the Caliphal Palace of Qasr al-Khalifa, the al-Ja'fari, al Ma'shuq, among others.

Samarra Archaeological City was inscribed as a World Heritage Site during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee with convened in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 23 June to 2 July, 2007. On 1 April, 2005, the top of the spiral minaret was damaged by a bomb attack, brought along because US troops were using it as a lookout point. Partly due to this concern, the Samarra Archaeological City was also one of three sites added in 2007 on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the other two being the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador and the Niokolo Koba National Park of Senegal.

Photos of Samarra Archaeological City

Female statuette, circa 6000 BC, Samarra, Iraq
Female statuette, circa 6000 BC, Samarra, Iraq

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 34 20 27.562 E 43 49 24.755
Inscription Year: 2007
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, III, IV

Location Map of Samarra Archaeological City

to be added soon.

Return to Iraq's World Heritage Sites
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