Ukhaidir and Samarra: Architectural Legacy Of The Abbasid Dynasty

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Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir or Abbasid palace of Ukhaider in Iraq. Panoramic view from the ramparts ( Janos / Adobe Stock)

Ukhaidir and Samarra: Architectural Legacy Of The Abbasid Dynasty

The Abbasid Dynasty, founded by Abu al-Abbas as-Saffah in 750 AD, marked a significant transition in the Islamic world. It succeeded the Umayyad Caliphate and shifted the Islamic capital from Damascus (Syria) to the newly established city of Baghdad (Iraq). Under the Abbasids, the Islamic empire experienced a flourishing period of intellectual and cultural growth, often referred to as the "Islamic Golden Age." This era was characterized by advances in various fields, including science, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, literature and of course architecture.

Al-Ukhaidir Fortress near Karbala (Mustafa Hamzah Almosawy/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Al-Ukhaidir Fortress near Karbala (Mustafa Hamzah Almosawy/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Ukhaidir Fortress

In the vast expanse of Iraq's arid landscape, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad, the Ukhaidir Fortress, also known as Qasr al-Ukhaidir, stands as a sentinel of the past. The origins of this massive extended construction is shrouded in mystery. According to the Muslim Heritage site, it can be dated to anywhere from 720 to 800 AD, which poses a problem as that would include 30 years within the Umayyad Dynasty, predecessor of the Abbasid Dynasty, who gained power in 750 AD. The semi-circular arches point to Umayyad construction, while the pointed arches are Abbasid.


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