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Al-Mustansereyya School, Baghdad

Al-Mustansereyya School overlooking the Tigris from Rusafa side, near Shuhada Bridge, with courses in Arabic, Theology, Astronomy, Mathematics, Pharmacology and Medicine with application hospital, was the most prominent and highly-esteemed university in the Islamic world of Abbasids.

It took six years to build (completed in 1233 AD) in the reign of the 37th Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustanser Billah (1226 - 1242 AD), after whom it was called. Nearly three quarters of a million dinars in gold was spent on its construction and had an endowment valued at about one million dinars in gold from which the School obtained an annual revenue of 70,000 dinars to spend on staff and students.

Al-Mustansereyya School from north west side, Baghdad

It has a quasi-rectangular plan measuring 104.8 meters in length and 44.2 in width in the north, 48.8 in the south, making up an area of 4836 square meters. The built-up part totals 3121 square meters, the rest being a courtyard of 1710 square meters lined on all sides by ewans large ornamented galleries completely open to the courtyard.

There are rooms on two stories which were for students lodging, study and lecture halls, a library (which once held 80,000 books), a kitchen, a bathroom and, notably, a pharmacy attached to a hospital. It has its own garden, together with a house once specially used for the study of the Holy Qur'an and another for the study of Holy Tradition.

Al-Mustansereyya was famous for its clock which told the hours astronomically. Apart from telling the hours, it specified the position of the sun and the moon at every hour, besides other mechanical curiosities.

This school is also well known of its fine ornamentation, which is mainly composed of geometrical and floral arabesque curved on the bricks covering its interior and exterior facades.

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