The Balkuwara palace


The Balkuwara palace was built in about 854 by the caliph al-Mutawakkil for his favourite son al-Mu`tazz. It is particularly well known for having been excavated by the German archaeologist Herzfeld in 1911.


The plan, 460 x 586 m, is composed of a central reception block, opening on one side onto a garden on the Tigris, and on the other onto a sequence of three courtyards leading to the land gate. The main reception block is composed of a cross of halls about a central dome chamber, with two monumental iwan halls, facing towards the Tigris and towards the land gate. The land side iwan was excavated and the brick walls are partly preserved today, with tall round-topped niches.

Decoration was principally in Bevelled Style stucco, but there were also fragments of glass mosaic.

The streets behind the palace were intended to accommodate a corps of 12,000 Arab soldiers recruited under the command of al-Mu`tazz.

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