Baghdad Travel Guide, Iraq
Once a Center of Culture, Now in Turmoil
Iraq hasn't been getting good press lately, less so for its capital Baghdad. The result of the deployment in the city by United States and United Nation military forces and the resulting resistance can only mean a city that's always on its toes. One of the world's oldest organized cities, the 2nd in the whole Arab word after Cairo in Egypt, Baghdad is presently a risky place for tourists and its own citizens.
There are marked zones which are US military forces' strongholds. The areas outside those zones are said to be where armed struggles between insurgents US and their allies and ethnic groups. Because of such instability and security worries, travel to Baghdad is not advised.
Historically, Baghdad as a city traces back to the eight century and perhaps even before Islam was founded. What was once the undisputed focal point of the Muslim world, Baghdad has been a center of turmoil all because of the continuing war in Iraq.
Founded in 764 CE by caliph Abu Ja'far Al'Mansur, Baghdad is near two rivers: the Euphrates and the Tigris. The city was to outshine Ctesiphone- then the capital of the Persian Empire.
Within some thirty years after its founding, the city developed into a focal point of commerce and learning. A part of the city was dedicated to translating Middle Persian and Greek; and scholars flocked to Baghdad and the people eventually used the Arabic language. After this golden age, Baghdad fell into a period of decline--from the 10th century up to the 19th century.
By the end of the First World War, Great Britain was given a mandate by the United Nations to administer all of Iraq until a government of its own could be set up and running. Oil reserves were endeavored to be developed by 1931 between the Iraqi government and oil companies. Naturally, when complete independence was reached by 1932, the British watch-over mandate was lifted. Iraq as a maintained constitutional monarchy ended in 1958 after army officers took over the government. In 1963 the Baath party or the Arab Socialist Resurrection party took control of the government.
The oil boom of the 70s only served to bring more wealth to Baghdad. The immense wealth entailed massive developments resulting in a city of astounding scale—stretching both bank of the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
The 2003 invasion of the whole country meant Baghdad fell under Unites States control. The removal of Saddam Hussein from power still has repercussions felt in the city. Reconstruction efforts continue, but unfortunately so do violent clashes.
Baghdad has been a major focal point and influence in Arabic cultural life. It has been home to a great many notable writers, artists, musicians. Its crucial cultural institutions include the Iraqi National Orchestra (whose performance halter by the war has been resumed) and the National Theatre of Iraq (damaged and looted during the Iraqi takeover, but it is currently being restored). Reconstruction efforts are continuing, but since war-caused instability has returned to the city, traveling to Baghdad is not advised.
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