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Observations placeholder

Spiral Minaret at Samarra



Type of Spiritual Experience


Women Shrouded in Black Approach the Spiral Minaret at Samarra By Lynn Abercrombie

A description of the experience

The Great Mosque of Samarra (Arabic: جَامِع سَامَرَّاء ٱلْكَبِيْر‎, romanized: Jāmiʿ Sāmarrāʾ Al-Kabīr, Arabic: مَسْجِد سَامَرَّاء ٱلْكَبِيْر‎, romanized: Masjid Sāmarrāʾ Al-Kabīr, or Arabic: ٱلْمَسْجِد ٱلْجَامِع فِي سَامَرَّاء‎, romanized: Al-Masjid Al-Jāmiʿ fī Sāmarrāʾ, lit. 'The Great Mosque in Samarra') is a mosque from the 9th century CE located in Samarra, Iraq. The mosque was commissioned in 848 and completed in 851 by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil who reigned (in Samarra) from 847 until 861. The mosque is located within the 15,058-hectare (37,210-acre) Samarra Archaeological City UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed in 2007

The Great Mosque of Samarra was, for a time, the largest mosque in the world; its minaret, the Malwiya Tower, is a spiralling cone 52 metres (171 ft) high and 33 metres (108 ft) wide with a spiral ramp. The reign of al-Mutawakkil had a great effect on the appearance of the city, for he seemed to have been a lover of architecture, and the one responsible for building the great Mosque of Samarra. In a list of his building projects which appears in several different versions, the new Congregational Mosque and up to twenty palaces are mentioned, totalling between 258 and 294 million dirhams. The new Congregational Mosque, with its spiral minaret, built between 849 (235 AH) and 851 (235 AH), formed part of an extension of the city to the east, extending into the old hunting park.

The mosque itself was destroyed in 1278 (656 AH) after Hulagu Khan's invasion of Iraq. Only the outer wall and its minaret remain.

Al-Minārat Al-Malwiyyah (Arabic: ٱلْمِنَارَة ٱلْمَلْوِيَّة‎, "The Twisted Minaret" or "The Snail Shell Minaret") was originally connected to the mosque by a bridge. The minaret or tower was constructed in 848–852 of sandstone, and is unique among other minarets because of its ascending spiral conical design. Being 52 metres (171 ft) high and 33 metres (108 ft) wide at the base, the spiral contains stairs reaching to the top.

The height of the Malwiya made it practical to be used for the call to prayer. It is visible from a considerable distance in the area around Samarra.  

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items





Activities and commonsteps