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Ukhaidhir, Iraq

Ukhaidhir, the colossal pre- or early Abbasid (late 8th century) fortified pleasure palace is 50 km south west of Kerbala and about 173 km south west of Baghdad, standing alone in the desert as one of the most impressive buildings in the whole World and one of the greatest monuments of early Islam.

It was built with stone and plaster on a plan which suggests the high skill of its architects in the use of vaults and arches, consisting of a fortified rectangular enclosure measuring 175x169 m, with a gateway in the center of each side. It has 4 rounded corner towers and 10 intermediate half-rounded towers.

General View of the Second Floor of Ukhaidir

Ukhaidhir's huge walls rise like a cliff out of the plain, and inside them you have the feeling of being in a particularly large warlike castle. The walls are immensely thick, the chambers legion, the whole massive structure 21 m high. Every room is vaulted and majestic.

The word Ukhaidhir means "small green place". It is one of several fortified mansions built by Arabs on the east and northern fringes of the desert; there are others in Jordan and Syria. Some authorities claim it is an early example of Arab architecture - that is, something not a straight copy from the Persian or Byzantine.

The open-fronted hall (or ewan) and its archway framed in a rectangular panel are both Persian in origin. Byzantine acanthus leaves decorate fallen stone capitals. The whole building with its circular buttresses and vaulted colonnades is neither Greek nor Persian, but the first, perhaps overbold step in the evolution of an individual (Arab) style, which later produced the Caliph's palace in Samarra.

There are interesting sights on the way to this leviathan of a building. Just outside Kerbala is a tiny shrine, with the usual dome of colored tiles, to Hurr bin Yazid El-Riahi, an officer in the army of Ubaidullah who joined Hussein's band when he realized that Ubaidullah would have no mercy. Hurr, ironically, was the first to fall.

Ceiling of the Mosque of Ukhaidir

Shulki Palace
This palace is one of the buildings of Ukhaidhir Palace. It has a square form with 55 m2. Its walls are distinguished by its inflate form which is made of backed bricks and tar.

The palace is also distinguished by its many galleries and its large yard placed in the middle. Two silver statues were found in the base of the construction, they were in two boxes made of unburnt and backed bricks.

The Royal Cemetery
Another construction of Ukhaidhir Palace situated to the east of the temples region. It is one of the richest cemeteries that have ever been discovered in the ancient history of Iraq.

Its history is traced back to the 3rd age of the dawn of dynasties. Most of the royal graves in this cemetery are situated at the southern region and consists of various rooms. The deads were buried in this cemetery with their belongings, furniture and servants.

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