Baghdad (Arabic: بغداد Baġdād) is the capital of Iraq and of Baghdad Governorate. With a metropolitan area estimated at a population of 7,000,000, it is the largest city in Iraq. It is the second-largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo) and the second-largest city in southwest Asia (after Tehran).
Located on the Tigris River, the city dates back to at least the 8th century, and probably to pre-Islamic times. Once the center of Dar al-salam, the Muslim world, Baghdad has been a center of violent conflict since 2003 because of the ongoing Iraq War.
Map of Iraq showing Baghdad
Although there is no dispute over its Iranian origin, there have been several rival proposals as to its specific etymology. The most reliable and most widely accepted among these is that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bhaga "god" + dād "given", translating to "god-given" or "God's gift", whence Modern Persian Baɣdād, Arabic Baġdād. Another leading proposal is that the name comes from Middle Persian Bāgh-dād "The Given Garden".
History - Foundation
The city of Baghdad is often said to have been founded on the west bank of the Tigris on 30 July 762 by the Abbasid dynasty, led by caliph al-Mansur, replacing Harran as the seat of the caliphal government; however, a city of Baghdad is mentioned in pre-Islamic texts, including the Talmud , and the Abbasid city was likely built on the site of this earlier settlement.
Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, which was located some 30 km (20 miles) to the southeast, which had been under Muslim control since 637, and which became quickly deserted after the foundation of Baghdad. The site of Babylon, which had been deserted since the 2nd century BC, lies some 90 km (55 miles) to the south.
The city was designed as a circle about 2 km in diameter, leading it to be known as the "Round City". The original design shows a ring of residential and commercial structures along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another ring, inside the first. In the center of the city lay the mosque, as well as headquarters for guards. The purpose or use of the remaining space in the center is unknown. The circular design of the city was a direct reflection of the traditional Persian Sasanian urban design. The ancient Sasanian city of Gur/Firouzabad is nearly identical in its general circular design, radiating avenues, and the government buildings and temples at the epicenter of the city.
The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Persian precedents such as Firouzabad in Persia. The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's design were Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from Khorasan, Iran.
A mosque in Baghdad
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