Mosul is Iraq's third largest city, with approximately 665,000 inhabitants as of 1987. It is situated close to 400 kilometers north of Baghdad on the west bank of Tigris, in the Diar Rabi'a region, close to the ruined Assyrian city of Nineveh. Though the population of Mosul is principally Kurdish, Mosul is home to other minority groups, including Aramaic-speaking Christian Assyrians, and to a lesser extent, Turcomans. The city has been described as 'the pearl of the north.' Once a walled city, remains of the original fortifications still stand along the Bash Tapia castle, on the western bank of the Tigris.
Mosul is the only major city east of Euphrates built primarily of stone and brick. It includes an extensive use of marble, especially in columns, door and window frames. Specialized masonry techniques, like the carving on marble with bitumen filling, were introduced to the city from Damascus during the reign of Nur al-Din. Its buildings and monuments were partially built with re-used elements from Roman temples and early Christian churches.
In approximately 850 BCE, King Assubanipal II of Assyria chose the city of Nimrud to establish his capital, where present day Mosul is located. Around 700 BCE, King Sennacherib made Nineveh the new capital of Assyria. Mosul later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Syria and Anatolia with Persia. By the eighth century, Mosul had become the principal city of northern Mesopotamia.
The city was an important trade center in the Abbasid era, because of its strategic position on the caravan route between India, Persia and the Mediterranean. In 1127, Mosul became the capital of the Zangid dynasty until 1224, when it was sacked by the newly prominent local Badr al-Din Lu'lu'. During Badr al-Din Lu'lu''s reign, the city reached its apogee, and was widely known for its textile and metalwork.
The city is also recognized for its abundance of shrines, dedicated to religious figures like Jonah, St. Georges, and several Shi'ite Imams. A distinguishing feature of these shrines is the dome, which appears a simple, conical or pyramidal form from the outside, but reveal exquisite muqarnas ornamentation from the inside. These forms spread beyond shrines, and were adopted by many local churches. Several decorative patterns and techniques that formed in Mosul also spread into the greater Muslim world, including brick decoration, and marble mosaic work.
In the thirteenth century, Mosul was nearly destroyed by Mongol invasion. It was not until 1534, when the Ottomans took control over Mosul, that the city was rebuilt, and transformed into the region's commercial and administrative center. Mosul declined after the opening of the Suez Canal, but was revived with the discovery and development of petroleum reserves in the area in the 1920s.
al-Janabi, Tariq Jawad. Studies in Medieval Iraqi Architecture. Baghdad : Ministry of Culture and Information, State Organization of Antiquities and Heritage, 1982.
Ettinghausen, Richard and Oleg Grabar. The Art and Architecture of Islam. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1994.
Architecture of the Islamic World, Edited by George Michell. London : Thames and Hudson, 1978.
Bosworth, Clifford Edmond. The New Islamic Dynasties. New York : Columbia University Press, 1996.
Al-Tabbaa, Yasser Ahmad. The Architectural Patronage of Nur al-Din, (1146-1174). New York : New York University, University Microfilms International, 1982.
The Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital was one of the main hospitals serving the city of Mosul. It is located on the right bank of the Tigris to the north of the old city in the quarter known as al-Shifa. Modernist Iraqi architect Hisham Munir designed the building, whose construction ended in 1964. The hospital was badly damaged during 2016-2017.
The hospital was the first project Hisham Munir completed upon returning to Iraq after his graduation from the University of Southern California. Munir submitted the design as part of a competition for a 500-bed hospital, then called the Mosul TB Hospital (Mustashfa al-Imrad al-Sadari fi al-Mawsil). He won the competition, and supervised the construction of the project. According to a summary of the project provided by Munir:
"Our design concept expanded on the latest American Hospitals, employing coordinated efficiency for nurse stations, patients and doctors. Although we agree with the saying 'architecture can not cure people,' we designed with our conviction that good design has the power to heal by creating ambient atmospheres, and to enhance the performance of the doctors and nurses inevitably passing on to the well-being of the patients. The design for the Teaching Hospital integrated bold geometric forms with up-to-date technology. The forms of folded plates further inspired the design, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of tents used for patients and family visits and gatherings. This approach reflects my philosophy of using up-to-date-technology to create inspired architecture that is visually, though never literally, vernacular and traditional."1
The hospital was severely damaged during the battle between Da'ish (ISIS) and a U.S.-led coalition for control of the old city of Mosul during 2016 and 2017, which ended in airstrikes on the old city by the U.S.-led coalition. As of July 2019, the hospital building still remained in a heavily damaged state.2