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061. Samarra
— Qasr al-Ashiq

Salah ad-Din Governorate. About 60 miles north of Baghdad, on the Tigris. Often called the largest archaeological site in the world, Samarra stretches more than 40 kilometers along the Tigris. The region dates from the Samarra period (5600-5000 BC) at nearby sites Tell es-Sawwan and Choga Mami and also became a major urban center under the Abbasid caliphate (9th century AD).

In 836 AD the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu't, wishing to escape conflict with the local population in Baghdad, moved to Samarra, which remained the seat of power for the Abbasids for next 56 years, a period during which the largest mosque in all of Islam was built at Samarra. The city served as home for eight successive caliphs until 892, when the capital was moved back to Baghdad.

While all of Samarra can be considered an archaeological treasure, these monuments stand out in particular:

Qasr al-Ashiq

Located on the west side of the Tigris, 16 kilometers west of the modern city of Samarra.

Date: Abbassid period, 877-882


Qasr al-Ashiq (medieval name: al-Ma'shuq – ‘The Beloved’) was the palace of the last caliph of Samarra, al-Mu'tamid, located on the west bank of the Tigris 16 km from the modern city. Excavated by the Iraq Directorate of Antiquities in the 1960s, the palace was restored during the 1980s.



  34° 14' 31.5600"     
  34.2421° N
  43° 48' 30.6000"    
  43.8085° E

GoogleEarth satellite view of
Qasr al-Ashiq (external resource)