35 km 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 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.
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.
These days is the only surviving structure in Ctesiphon is Taq Kasra the largest 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.
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 the 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.
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.
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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