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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