The birth of Baghdad was a landmark for world civilisation
The foundation of al-Mansur’s ‘Round City’ in 762 was a glorious milestone in the history of urban design. It developed into the cultural centre of the world
If Baghdad today is a byword for inner-city decay and violence on an unspeakable scale, its foundation 1,250 years ago was a glorious milestone in the history of urban design. More than that, it was a landmark for civilisation, the birth of a city that would quickly become the cultural lodestar of the world.
We know a huge amount about the city’s meticulous and inspired planning thanks to detailed records of its construction. We are told, for instance, that when Mansur was hunting for his new capital, sailing up and down the Tigris to find a suitable site, he was initially advised of the favourable location and climate by a community of Nestorian monks who long predated Muslims in the area.
On 30 July 762, after the royal astrologers had declared this the most auspicious date for building work to begin, Mansur offered up a prayer to Allah, laid the ceremonial first brick and ordered the assembled workers to get cracking.
This was by far the greatest construction project in the Islamic world: Yaqubi reckoned there were 100,000 workers involved.
The ninth-century essayist, polymath and polemicist al-Jahiz was unstinting in his praise. “I have seen the great cities, including those noted for their durable construction. I have seen such cities in the districts of Syria, in Byzantine territory, and in other provinces, but I have never seen a city of greater height, more perfect circularity, more endowed with superior merits or possessing more spacious gates or more perfect defences than Al Zawra, that is to say the city of Abu Jafar al-Mansur.” What he particularly admired was the roundness of the city: “It is as though it is poured into a mould and cast.”
FULL ARTICLE :-
http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/ ... vilisation
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