Photo by Wojciech Fedoruk.

Samarra Archaeological City is the site of a powerful Islamic capital city which ruled over the provinces of the Abbasid empire extending from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century.

It testifies to the architectural and artistic innovations that developed there and spread to the other regions of the Islamic world.

Among its architectural monuments are the 9th-century Great Mosque and its Spiral Minaret, and the Caliphal Palace.

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Wojciech Fedoruk

Poland - 28-Nov-21 -

Samarra by Wojciech Fedoruk

Samarra is a true symbol of Iraq. The spiral minaret of the Great Mosque is perhaps the most famous monument in this country, more famous than the monuments of Babylon. Although Samarra is quite close to Baghdad, it has been virtually inaccessible for many years. The reason was primarily security concerns - Samarra is an extremely important place for Shi'ite Islam. Even now, in November 2021, Samarra is under special protection - when entering, at the checkpoint on the main road, we had to leave our passports and pick them up on the way back.

Samarra's UNESCO inscription contains many places, but there is no doubt that its focal point is the ruins of the 1,200-year-old Grand Mosque (once the largest in the world), which includes a wonderfully reconstructed spiral minaret. You can climb this minaret and admire the ruins of the Grand Mosque from above, just be careful not to fly down - there are no barriers (the top of the minaret has been destroyed), and the wind blows very hard! There is an entrance fee of IQD 25,000 (~USD 17) but it is worth paying - the site is quite well preserved. You can even buy a souvenir - a small replica of the spiral minaret.

Samarra was taken by the Islamic State, but for a very short time and these barbarians did not manage to seriously destroy anything - Shi'ite mosques were practically intact. In Samarra, we also visited another monument that cannot be missed - the Al-Askari mosque (top right photo), one of the holiest Shi'ite sites, with the tombs of two Shi'ite imams. The Al-Askari Mosque was not as lucky as the Grand Mosque, because it fell victim to bomb attacks twice in 2006-2007, among others destroyed its dome. I do not know how the Iraqis managed to rebuild it, but as I give you my word, there is no trace of any attacks. The mosque itself is simply breathtaking.


Iraq - 25-Mar-10 -

In 1975 we visited Samarra and we were astounded by the spiral minaret which stand out prominently in the desert surroundings. Climbing on the spiral outside staircase, was interesting and our guide said, the higher you climb, the luckier you get! The mosque nearby was admirable, so my Italian husband said and the view from the top was breathtaking, as the ruins from afar were clearly seen

A great experience.

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Site Info

Full Name
Samarra Archaeological City
Unesco ID
2007 - In Danger
2 3 4
Archaeological site - Near Eastern

Site History

2007 In Danger

Needs preventive measures and conservation

2007 Inscribed

1983 Deferred

Deferred until receipt of necessary info


The site has 10 locations

Samarra: Samarra North Zone - al-Mutawakkiliyya Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: Samarra Centre Zone Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: Samarra South Zone Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: al-Istablat Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: al-Quwayr Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: Qubbat al-Sulaibiyya Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: al-Ma'shuq Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: Tell Umm al-Sakhr Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: al-Huwaysilat Upper Salah al-Din Governorate,
Samarra: al-Huwaysilat Lower Salah al-Din Governorate,


The site has

Human Activity
Individual People
Religion and Belief
Science and Technology
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process