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Mosul, Iraq

Mosul, 396 km north of Baghdad, is Iraq's 2nd largest city, a center for the tourist resorts of northern Iraq, and the north's major center for trade, industry and communications, with approximately 570,000 inhabitants. Situated in the northwestern part of the country, on the west bank of Tigris, and close to the ruined Assyrian city of Nineveh.

Mosul is called Um Al-Rabi'ain (The City of Two Springs), because autumn and spring are very much alike there. It is also named Al-Faiha (The Paradise), Al-Khadhra (The Green), and Al-Hadba (The Humped), and sometimes described as the Pearl of the North.

Houses in old Mosul on the banks of the Tigris

This city has been continuously inhabited since Assyrian times. Long before Islam, a number of Arab tribes had settled in it, and in later times it played a leading role in the Arab wars of conquest and became a city of great importance. It was an important trade center in the Abbasid era, because of its strategic position on the caravan route between India, Persia and the Mediterranean. It's chief export was cotton, and today's word muslin is derived from the name of the city.

Mosul needs to be wandered about in. It is rich in old historical places and ancient buildings: mosques, castles, churches, monasteries, schools, most of which abound in architectural features and decorative works of significance. The town center is dominated by a maze of streets and attractive 19th century houses. There are old houses here of beauty. The markets are particularly interesting not simply for themselves alone but for the mixture of types who jostle there: Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians & Turkomans.

The Mosul Museum contains many interesting finds from the ancient sites of Nineveh and Nimrud. The Mosul House is a beautiful, old-style building, constructed around a central courtyard and with an impressive facade of Mosul marble. It contains displays of Mosul life depicted in tableau form.

Historical Places in Mosul

Nuriddin Mosque courtyard and Al-Hadba (The Humped)The Umayyad Mosque
The first ever in the city, built in 640 AD by Utba bin Farqad Al-Salami after he conquered Mosul in the reign of Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab. The only part still extant is the remarkably elaborate brickwork 52 m high minaret that leans like the Tower of Pisa, called Al-Hadba (The Humped).

The Great (Nuriddin) Mosque
Built by Nuriddin Zanki in 1172 AD next door to the Umayyad Mosque. Ibn Battuta (the great Tunisian traveller) found a marble fountain there and a mihrab (the niche that indicates the direction of Mecca) with a Kufic inscription.

The Mujahidi Mosque
Dates back to 12th century AD, distinguished for its beautiful dome and elaborately wrought (mihrab).

The Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges)
Believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis (pbuh). Built of marble with beautiful relieves and renovated last in 1393 AD. It was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.

Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem
On the right bank of Tigris, known for its conical dome, decorative brick-work and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble, 13th century.

Bash Tapia Castle
Part of Mosul's old walls which has disappeared, with the exception of these imposing ruins rising high over Tigris.

Qara Serai (The Black Palace)
The remnants of the 13th century palace of Sultan Badruddin Lu'lu'.

Churches and Monasteries of Mosul

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