Great Mosque of Samarra in Samarra – Iraq
The Great Mosque of Samarra is a 9th-century mosque located in Samarra, Iraq. The mosque was commissioned in 848 and completed in 851 by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil who reigned (in Samarra) from 847 until 861.
The Great Mosque of Samarra was at one time the largest mosque in the world; its minaret, the Malwiya Tower, is a vast spiralling cone 52 meters high and 33 meters wide with a spiral ramp. The mosque had 17 aisles, and its walls were panelled with mosaics of dark blue glass. It was part of an extension of Samarra eastwards.
On April 1, 2005, the top of the Malwiya minaret was damaged by a bomb. Insurgents reportedly attacked the tower because U.S. troops had been using it as a lookout position. However, per Tony Blair in his January 21, 2011 Iraq Inquiry testimony, insurgents had attacked the mosque to incite Sunni-Shite violence and further destabilize the country. The blast removed pieces of brick from the top of the minaret along its spiral ramp.
The art and architecture of the mosque was influential; stucco carvings within the mosque in floral and geometric designs represent early Islamic decoration. Additionally, the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt was based on the Samarra mosque in many regards. The mosque was destroyed in 656 AH (1278 CE) after the Hulagu Khan invasion of Iraq. Only the outer wall and its minaret remain.