Iraq: Babylon – Ishtar Gate
Babylon! The entrance to the massive complex that is Babylon is through the reconstructed copy of the Ishtar Gate (albeit significantly smaller then the original). The gate was constructed in 575 AD by order of King Nebuxhadnezzar II and it was the main entrance gate in to the city, the second gate was at the end of the long processional path. The gate was built out of specially made glazed bricks with animals and god-like creatures as reliefs on them (in fact different parts of the animals where on different bricks and molded separately and then they were combined like a jigsaw puzzle together). The original gate was unearthed by German archaeologists in the 1910s, the entire gate was disassembled into pieces and smuggle in a secret operations out of Iraq under the nose of the Ottoman authorities to Berlin, where the gate was reconstructed at the Pergamum Museum. Several sections of the original gate are displayed at the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad and a small pieces is at Babylon in a tiny museum next to the new gate. The two images repeating on the gate are those of mythical half-god creatures – aurochs (half-bull) and mushussus (half-dragon). And while the new gate is clearly a replica and smaller then the original masterpiece – it’s still impressive and magnificent.