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Visiting The Ruins Of Ctesiphon, The Last Persian Capital In Iraq.

One of the historical gems and unknown to most people in the are located  35 km/22miles southeast of Baghdad the capital of Iraq is the ruins of the ancient Persian capital, Ctesiphon, one of the ancient world´s great unknown wonders.

the ruins of the ancient city of Ctesiphon outside Bagdhad
The only remaining ruins of the ancient city of Ctesiphon.

The ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon, located on the eastern bank of the river Tigris served as the last capital of the Persian Empire from 226AD and until the Persian Empire fell in the year of 637AD during the Arab conquest of Persia.

standing under the arch of Taq Kasra in Iraq
I am standing under the arch of Taq Kasra.

It´s believed that Ctesiphon was the largest city in the world with a population of around 500 000 and that the city covered a surface area of over 30km, more than double the size of Rome at that time.
Ctesiphon the old Persian city Iraq

These days is the only surviving structure in Ctesiphon is Taq Kasra the most massive single-span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world and considered to be a landmark in the history of architecture.

And with the height of 37m/121 is it truly an ancient wonder, especially when you know that the archway has been standing for almost 1800 years already.

 Ctesiphon iraq
 Ctesiphon iraq
From the top of Taq Kasra Ctesiphon in Iraq
From the top of Taq Kasra. The arch is 1meter thick here.
Taq Kasra Ctesiphon
Long way up, all 37meters

Tas Ksra was part of a majestic vaulted hall which served as the palace for the kings that ruled over the Persian Empire, but after the Arabs captured Ctesiphon the palace was used as a Mosque for a short period of time the whole city had been abandoned.

After the Arabs captured Ctesiphon in 637 AD, they turned the palace into a mosque until the whole city was gradually abandoned, by the 8th century and locals were using the remains of Ctesiphon as a quarry for building materials and transported the bricks to the newly founded city of Baghdad.

Subsequent floods from the Tigris river have also over the years destroyed all of the remaining buildings of the area, most of the city was swept away by a flood here in 1888. 

The eastern part of Taq Kasra was rebuilt in the 1970 and 1980 on Saddam Hussein’s order, to try to protect Taq Kasra and stop the whole arch from collapsing. 

Western part of Taq Kasra Iraq
The western part of Taq Kasra.
That´s what i call a crack Ctesiphon iraq
That´s what I call a crack.
The backside of Taq Kasra Ctesiphon in iRAQ
The backside of Taq Kasra.
The backside of Taq Kasra Ctesiphon iRAQ
The backside of Taq Kasra.

About 200mesters east of Taq Kasra did Saddam Hussein build a modern building where a rooftop trace so people could get a panoramic view over the area.
But like the rest of Iraq did everything made by Saddam get burned down just after the 2003 invasion, while it´s still possible to climb the building, is it on your own risk. The whole building has burned down inside so your walking across rubble, cracked glass.

There´s also no security at Ctesiphon (like in the rest of the historical sites of Iraq), so tens locals are climbing to the top of the arch of Taq Kasra every day, so I won’t be surprised if the Arch will get more damaged over the next few years.

The Panoramic building just east of Ctesiphon in Iraq
The Panoramic building just east of Ctesiphon.
The view over Taq Kasra from the panoramic building in Iraq
The view over Taq Kasra from the panoramic building, the open fields on both sides of the road was before the war a popular picnic spot for locals, now it´s full of garbage, and nobody has picnic here anymore.
The view over Taq Kasra from the panoramic building in Iraq
The view over Taq Kasra from the panoramic building.

Getting to Ctesiphon?

Ctesiphon is located in what´s now the modern town of Salman Pak 35km/22miles south-east of Baghdad before the war was Ctesiphon together with The Ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu the two most popular day trips you could do from the Iraqi capital.

These days the 35km/22miles journey from Baghdad to Salman Pak will take close to 3hours due to all the military checkpoints you will have to pass through on your way here, and even more checkpoints when travelling back to Baghdad agian.
Like everywhere else in Iraq are most hotels and tourist infrastructure been either burned down or closed for years, so the only way to visit Ctesiphon is on a long day trip.

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Travel guide to Ctesiphon the last Persian Capital. Before the war an easy daytrip from Baghdad the capital of Iraq.
Travel guide to Ctesiphon the last Persian Capital. Before the war, an easy day trip from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

Larry Sam

Friday 27th of August 2021

Thanks for your trying to get working visa from Iraq.hop is easy to get?and is the place good to leave? Again can I relocate from Iraq to other labouring country like turkey, Georgia, amania,etc.or is it easy to get US visa from Iraq or other country visa?waiting to hear from you soon.

Munir El Kadi

Wednesday 1st of May 2019

Thank you brother for ringing the bells of warning regarding the decay of the archaeological sites of my country. I hope this time we will get it right....

Christian L.

Monday 6th of May 2019

I hope so as well, but only time can tell.

Max Müller

Wednesday 27th of February 2019

Iraq! I always wanted to go there. I have been to the kurdish regions a few times before. I have been to many unusual countries and also been living in some! Your site made me happy to find a likeminded wanderer out there. So please tell me everything about Iraq how did you get the visaf or Baghdad? Did you use a tour operator or fixers?

Best regards,

Maximilian Müller from Sweden

Larry sam

Friday 27th of August 2021

@Christian L.,

Christian L.

Wednesday 27th of February 2019

Hello Maximilian. I will be posting everything in near future about travelling in Iraq. I did big parts of the southern part of the country, Baghdad - Samarra - Karbala - Najaf - Kufa - Babylon - wetlands - Basra and I even took the local train from Basra back to Baghdad:) I will also post how to get the visa. The visa might be the hardest tourist visa in the world to obtain. But I have the contact to the person that can arrange everything:)