Glennie Hammett

Glennie Hammett

Published: 15 Sep 2023


The Great Mosque of Samarra is an architectural marvel that continues to captivate tourists and historians alike. Located in Samarra, Iraq, this vast mosque is not only a significant religious site but also a testament to the ingenuity and skill of ancient architects. Built in the 9th century during the Abbasid Caliphate, it remains one of the largest mosques in the world, covering an area of 17 hectares. The mosque’s distinctive features, such as its iconic spiral minaret and exquisite decorations, make it a must-visit destination for those interested in Islamic history and architecture. In this article, we will explore ten fascinating facts about the Great Mosque of Samarra, shedding light on its historical significance and the wonders held within its sacred walls. So, let’s dive into the captivating world of this incredible landmark.

Table of Contents

The Great Mosque of Samarra is one of the largest mosques in the world

The Great Mosque of Samarra, located in Iraq, is renowned for its colossal size. With a total area of 40,000 square meters, it stands as one of the largest mosques ever built, making it an architectural marvel.

This historic mosque was constructed in the 9th century

The Great Mosque of Samarra was commissioned by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in the year 848 AD. Its construction took nearly six years, and the mosque was completed in 852 AD.

The mosque boasts the iconic Malwiya Tower

One of the most striking features of the Great Mosque is the Malwiya Tower. This spiraling minaret stands at a height of 52 meters and has a unique cylindrical shape, making it an iconic symbol of the mosque.

It houses the largest spiral minaret in the world

The Malwiya Tower, with its incredible spiral design, holds the distinction of being the largest spiral minaret ever built. It serves as a remarkable architectural achievement and is a testament to the skill of the artisans of ancient times.

The mosque was devastated by multiple invasions

Throughout its history, the Great Mosque of Samarra has faced numerous challenges, including invasions by Mongols and other conquerors. These invasions caused significant damage to the mosque, leaving it in ruins for several centuries.

It was extensively restored in the 20th century

In the 20th century, efforts were made to restore the Great Mosque to its former glory. Restoration work began in the 1930s and continued for several decades, meticulously recreating the intricate details and features of the original mosque.

The mosque features a vast prayer hall

Inside the Great Mosque, visitors will find a grand prayer hall covering an area of over 17,000 square meters. The hall can accommodate thousands of worshippers and showcases stunning architectural elements, including intricately carved pillars and ornate decorations.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage site

In recognition of its historical and cultural significance, the Great Mosque of Samarra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in This prestigious title highlights the importance of preserving this architectural masterpiece for future generations.

The mosque has influenced mosque architecture worldwide

The design and architectural elements of the Great Mosque of Samarra have had a profound impact on mosque architecture in various parts of the world. Its unique features have inspired the construction of many other mosques, both ancient and modern.

The mosque is a testament to the Islamic Golden Age

The Great Mosque of Samarra stands as a testament to the flourishing of Islamic civilization during the Abbasid period. Its construction and grandeur reflect the advancements in science, architecture, and culture that characterized the Islamic Golden Age.


The Great Mosque of Samarra is not just a remarkable architectural masterpiece, but also a testament to the rich historical and cultural heritage of Iraq. Its unique design, fascinating history, and breathtaking minaret make it a must-visit landmark for travelers and history enthusiasts alike. As one of the largest mosques in the world, it stands as a symbol of Islamic architecture and showcases the skill and ingenuity of the craftsmen who built it. Its significance extends beyond its religious importance, as it serves as a reminder of the greatness and influence of the Abbasid empire. Visiting the Great Mosque of Samarra is not just an opportunity to witness a grand architectural marvel, but also a chance to immerse oneself in the captivating stories and mysteries that surround this iconic landmark.


1. When was the Great Mosque of Samarra built?

The Great Mosque of Samarra was built in the 9th century, between the years 848 and 851 AD.

2. How tall is the famous spiral minaret of the mosque?

The spiral minaret, also known as the Malwiya Tower, stands at an impressive height of 52 meters (171 feet).

3. What is the significance of the Great Mosque of Samarra?

The mosque holds great historical and cultural significance as one of the largest mosques in the world, representing the architectural glory of the Abbasid empire.

4. Can visitors still access the mosque today?

Yes, visitors can still access the Great Mosque of Samarra. However, certain areas may be restricted due to preservation efforts.

5. Are there any unique features of the mosque?

One of the most distinct features of the mosque is its spiral minaret, which is considered a remarkable example of early Islamic architecture.

6. Is the Great Mosque of Samarra a UNESCO World Heritage site?

Yes, the Great Mosque of Samarra was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.

7. Can visitors climb up the spiral minaret?

No, visitors are not allowed to climb up the spiral minaret for safety reasons.

8. What is the best time to visit the Great Mosque of Samarra?

The best time to visit is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant and comfortable for exploring the site.

9. Are there any nearby attractions worth visiting?

Absolutely! The city of Samarra itself is home to several other historical sites, such as the Abbasid Palace and the Shrine of Ali al-Hadi.

10. Can I take photographs inside the mosque?

While photography is generally allowed, it is important to respect the sanctity of the mosque and follow any guidelines provided by the authorities.