Iraq: Great Mosque of Samarra

The iconic Great Mosque of Samarra is often viewed as the symbol of Iraq and is the perfect site to start the country’s exploration with. The magnificent mosque and its Malwiya Tower minaret was built in 848-851 and at the time was the largest mosque in the world. The distinguishingly-unique spiral minaret rises to 52 m (171 ft) high and is unlike any other minaret you see. The spiral walkway leads all the way to the to – no rails along the way! The top platform also has no rails – so not for those with fear of heights. The mosque itself was destroyed completely twice in the 12th and 14th centuries, with only some outer walls and the minaret remaining standing. The minaret was designed by one of the greatest architects of the time, al-Mutwawakkil, who was actually assassinated shortly after its completion – supposedly so it could never be copied. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.