Mosul, Iraq is one of the few cities in the Kurdish region that experienced diversity in its ethnic groups over time.
The people of this city thrived amid chaos ranging from internal civil wars, the Battle of Mosul, and its most recent war against ISIL.
What has kept this city and its citizens safe and strong from invaders and external threats? Is it their culture? What about its diverse religious practices? Or is it the Iraqi laws?
Many people are not aware that Mosul’s landscape was a significant part of Assyria that dates back to the 25th century BC. From 2335-2154 BC, a few years after Akkadian Empire’s reign, Mosul Northern Iraq became an integral part of Assyria.
For the next thirteen centuries, the majority of the population of Mosul resided in the shores of Assyria. They remained within Assyria’s geographical province until the mid-7th century when the “Early Muslim Conquests” began.
Following the Muslim Conquests, there was a continuous influx of Turkish Muslims, Arabs, and Kurdish people in Assyria. Although indigenous Assyrians waxed continuously in the region, maintaining the “Athura” name for distinction. The mound of Kuyunjik, the infamous King Sennacherib’s terrain, housed the imperial rule of the Assyrians. Not until after 652 BC did the Assyrian Empire regain its Kingdom after the brutal civil wars for decades.
Before the war, the city of Mosul only had a fragile ruling system and laws in place guiding the people of Assyria. Sadly, the impact of the internal civil war weakened the system causing years of a setback on Northern Iraq’s progress. Mosul, formerly known as the “Assyrian Town of Mepsila” around 612 BC, succeeded Nineveh assuming their territory. The Nineveh succession made Mosul the bridgehead connecting Anatolia and Assyria. As expected, the link between these parts of Iraq revived the Assyria economy in less than a decade.
As of 332 BC, Mosul province became a considerable part of the Seleucid Empire. This was possible because of the realignment of several cities in Iraq after Alexander’s conquests. Today, the tale of Mosul is likely connected to the “Seleucid Satrapy of Syria.” The Parthian Empire from 150 BC conquered Syria, which is the Greek term for Assyria. In the 1st century, Christianity crawled into Syria and had indigenous Assyrians’ hearts until the 4th century.
Where Is Mosul?
Just like every city in Iraq, tourists sometimes get confused about the exact location of Mosul. This Northern city is located 400km north of Baghdad. From the city of Cizre, Mosul is approximately 170km south. On the geographical map of Iraq, Mosul is East of Nineveh, directly opposite Syria, and West of Tigris. Today, the city extends on the east and west sides, cutting Tigris and Nineveh’s edges.
The Mosul district is approximately 180km square with a 232m elevation. According to the UNData in 1987, the urban estimated between 750,000 and 1,500,000 population density. It’s almost impossible to differentiate the indigenous citizens of Mosul from others with a diverse population.
Mosul hosts Assyrians, Arabs, Circassians, Mandaeans, Kurds, Turkmens, and Yazidis at various city parts. Armenians, Shabakis, Kawyilans are not exempted from the diverse population of the Mogul old city.
Mosul’s ethnic and religious diversity is more reason why the city experiences an increasing number of immigrants yearly. As a result of this continuous migration, Mosul’s population increased averagely around the turn of the millennium. As of 2004, the city’s census recorded a significant increase in its population, with Sunni Islam as the largest religion in Mosul. The census also highlighted a significant number of Christians and Saafi followers in the Mosul community.
In early 2006, Mosul’s population was a bit above 1,650,000, following a massive decrease from the consensus of 2004. The majority believed that this decrease occurred when the Levant and the Islamic States of Iraq took control of Mosul.
Thankfully, the Iraqi government won the city back from these movements in the “Battle of Mosul” three years after the takeover. Unfortunately, the city had been damaged beyond repairs from the battle, which resulted in several Mosul reconstruction projects.
Historical & Religious Buildings In Mosul
– Structures And Historical Monuments
The Mosul Dam is one of Mosul’s ancient structures that started serving the people in the 1980s. Before its creation, the Mosuls had limited access to water and zero sources of hydroelectric current. The dam remains in its damaged state as a result of Mosul’s war with ISIL. Aside from the Mosul Dam, five bridges help link Tigris to Mosul. However, these bridges are no longer in their best conditions because of terrorism.
The Old Iron Bridge, the “First Bridge,” helped the Mosul access Tigris from their city. Years after the Old Iron Bridge, the Al Huriya Bridge became the second construction connecting the North to South of both cities. The Al Shohada Bridge was the third bridge made available to the people at the time. Since these bridges only accessed certain parts of Tigris, there was a need for the fourth and fifth bridges.
There are attractive houses as old as the 19th century that serve as the city’s significant architectural buildings. The famous Mosul Museum is the one-stop destination for the historical sights of the old capital cities Assyria and Nineveh. The museum is a centuries-old architectural monument designed to remain stylish and elegant for centuries to come. Unfortunately, the war with ISIL led to the destruction of the Assyrian Artifacts in the museum.
– Mosques & Shrines
As the first Mosque erected in Mosul, the Umayyad Mosque dates as old as 640 AD. It was the central place of worship for the majority of Muslims, especially during religious celebrations. Another ancient religious monument is the Prophet Daniel Shrine, which used to be the acclaimed tomb of Prophet Daniel. Sadly, in July 2014, the Umayyad Mosque and Prophet Daniel Shrine got destroyed by the ISIL. These structures used to be a sight of beauty for international tourists and guests.
Two religious structures served as both mosques and shrines in the Northern city of Iraq. They are the popular Prophet Jirjis and Prophet Younis Mosques and Shrines. Both date back to the 14th and 8th centuries respectively as worship for both Muslims and traditional worshippers residing in Mosul and neighboring towns. Mosques in Mosul include Hamou Qado “Hema Kado,” Mujahidi, and The Great “Nuriddin” Mosques.
-Churches & Monasteries
It’s no doubt that Mosul Northern Iraq is home to some of the top churches and monasteries in the country and region. With the highest population of Christian believers in Assyria, the churches in Mosul dates back to centuries of Christianity. Shamoun Al-Safa, The St. Peter Church, is one of the oldest churches within and beyond the Kurdish region. It dates back to the 13th century hosting thousands of Christians for their meetings and religious activities.
Monks residing in the Mosul province have Mar Matte and St. George monasteries to perform their religious activities. Both date back to 362 AD and the 17th century, respectively, and are two architectural monuments worthy of tourist attractions. We have other monasteries like the Monastery of Mar Behnam and the St. Elijah’s Monastery in Mosul. Aside from the St. Peter Church, there are other Christian congregations like Mar Hudeni, Al-Tahera, Mar Petion, and Ancient Tahira Churches.
– Other Historical Sights In Mosul
Looking through East Mosul and other critical parts of the city, there are privately-owned centuries-old castles. Unfortunately, these castles and monuments aren’t opened for public sights for privacy sakes. However, the Bash Tapia Castle is an ancient architectural structure in Mosul with one of the Kurdish region’s finest finishings. The castle is erected high over the Tigris, and it stands as one of the few walls in Mosul until ISIL destroyed the wall.
There are only a few palaces in Mosul with impressive structures that are as old as the city itself; one is the Qara Serai palace. As it’s popularly called, the Black Palace is the 13th-century structure of Sultan Badruddin Lu’lu’. During the Battle of Mosul, the palace was a haven for most citizens residing in the city. Today, what’s considered as the remnants of the palace is located in Mosul for tourist attraction.
Notable People From Mosul
Mosul, the Northern city of Iraq, is home to many notable persons across various spheres of life. The first on the list is Yousif Dhanoon, a remarkable calligraphic specialist whose works are inscribed on famous Mosques’ walls today. His inscriptions Muslims believe in going beyond the characters of Arabic sharing inspiring meanings to those who read them. Zaha Hadid, the renowned architect and the first female recipient of the Pritzker Award.
Al Jalili, Ismael is the world-famous eye doctor that discovered the medical intervention for Jalili Syndrome. The city of Mosul also produced Munir Bashir, the famous Assyrian musician popular for his debut albums across the Mideast. Mosul also helped produced a qualified teacher of the Muslim world in the person of Asenath Barzani. She was the first-ever Jewish female Rabbi. It’d be impossible to skip Taha Yassin Ramadan on this list since he was a former Vice President of Iraq.
Salah al-Din al-Sabbagh is a notable name that’s helped the Arab Iraqi Army with his reputable service for his country. Mosul’s candidate for the 2004-2005 Presidential election, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, was also from the city. All of these persons and others contribute immensely in representing the Northern city of Iraq in their various fields. Though the city started with a rough patch, it’s no doubt that it has grown to become of Iraq’s pride.