The Architecture of Iraq

Written by Jood, Teen Volunteer
Halifax Public Libraries' Teen Blog is written by and for teens. Discover more posts here.

If you immigrated to Canada at a very young age like me, you also probably don’t know much about the architecture of your home country. Other than the few stories my parents tell me about Iraq, I really can’t imagine what it looked like when they lived there. To be honest, I don’t even know what it looks like now because I’ve never been there! But just because we don't live in our home countries due to things beyond our control—it doesn’t mean we should forget about them. 

So, to understand my heritage better, I wanted to know what Iraq looked like just a few decades before I was born.

Diverse areas

Like Canada, Iraq is a country full of diverse areas.

The cities

In most cities, like its capital Baghdad, sand-coloured brick houses with big backyards used to fill the neighbourhoods. Now, tall concrete buildings house families and growing businesses. It has a flat landscape and has a lot of tall palm trees. Baghdad's personal homes usually have tall ceilings, modern contrasts between dark wood and bright light, rooms like a maid's quarter, and to cool off from the heat—a nice pool. 

Rural areas

There are also rural places like the marshes of southern Iraq! These areas are full of Madan people (or known as “Marsh Arabs, opens a new window") that, to this day, continue to live on the marshland (the way they have for thousands of years) on the marsh on very small man-made reed islands. That means zero roads and small one story houses with rounded reed roofs that have incredible patterns.

Ancient architecture

Iraq was a very modern country but it was (and still is) very in touch with its peoples’ cultural traditions as well.  It has a lot of beautiful mosques all across the country which are made of sand-coloured brick with gold and blue detailing all along the walls or the exterior of it’s qubba, opens a new window (dome shape at the top of a mosque). 

Modern architecture

There are also amazing new monuments in Iraq such as the Al-Shaheed Monument, opens a new window (also known as the Martyr’s Memorial) built in 1983. This 150-foot blue split dome was originally dedicated to the Iraqi soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq War but it's generally known to be a commemoration of all of Iraq’s martyrs. 

Why I care

During my Design 11 course in school, we’ve been learning about design elements and how to incorporate them into our own designs. I’ve noticed that a lot of them originated from different cultures from across the world, especially patterns in carpets or wallpapers. Until taking this course, I’ve never grasped how beautifully generations before us expressed their religions or cultures, and who have made their own countries so unique through design. 

Even Halifax has unique architecture like our houses of every colour imaginable or our rapidly modernizing downtown! I enjoy learning more about Halifax architecture but I've never felt more at home than while reading about Iraq! 

If you know where your family or ancestors lived before coming here to Halifax, I suggest taking a couple minutes and seeing what life looked like for them by a simple Google search.

Learn more

Interested in learning more? Check out the websites I used to source information:

Research Gate, opens a new window

Encyclopedia Britannica - Architecture and Monuments, opens a new window

Wikipedia - Al-Shaheed Monument, opens a new window

Business Insider - Amazing Pictures , opens a new window

Wikipedia - Marsh Arabs, opens a new window

Aljazeera - Changing Face of Baghdad, opens a new window

About the writer

My name is Jood Shikara and I’m 15 years old. I'm currently in COVID-19 quarantine just like you. I have a dwarf hamster named Sesame who lives luxuriously. My life these days tend to centre around him and I am not mad about it! I’ve always thought learning was really fun but I like learning specifically about things that they don't teach you in school, like how to take care of a hamster! I love trying and learning about different styles of art because I want to channel my creativity in new and interesting ways.