The city of Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur.

The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad Caliphate in 750, and quickly consolidated their power by removing potential opponents. By 762 the new caliph had secured his position, and set about building a new administrative capital on the banks of the Tigris at a site previously occupied by an ancient village. Situated at a junction with the Sarat Canal that connected to the Euphrates, the new city benefited not only from plentiful access to water but also control over important trade routes.

Construction began on 30 July 762 after two royal astrologers determined that the city would fare best if built under the sign of Leo. Many thousands of workers, ranging from architects and engineers to unskilled labourers, were brought from around the Empire to complete the task. Four straights roads led directly to the centre of the city through concentric circular walls, the outer of which stood 80 feet high. The circular layout of Baghdad was said to be the only one of its type in the world at the time.

Construction was completed in 766 and the city was named Madinat al-Salaam or City of Peace, although the ancient name Baghdad was also used. The city soon established itself as a centre of learning and trade. A sophisticated system of commerce quickly developed, fuelled by the city’s connections to the east, which led to Baghdad becoming a multicultural hub as merchants settled to benefit from these links.

The growing population fuelled the development of schools which included the unrivalled House of Wisdom. This acted as a catalyst for the Golden Age of Islam that is widely accepted to have lasted until the Siege of Baghdad in 1258.

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